Remembering the Legendary Angelo DundeeWritten by Lee Cleveland
Boxing mourns the loss of Angelo Dundee who died Wednesday. He was 90.
Dundee purportedly died of a heart attack in Florida after suffering from a blood clot in recent weeks.
Angelo Dundee was born Angelo Mirena in Philadelphia, PA on August 30, 1921. A boxing trainerand cornerman, Dundee is best known for his work with Muhammad Ali (1960–1981) Sugar Ray Leonard, George Foreman and Carmen Basilio. He also trained José Nápoles, Jimmy Ellis, Luis Rodriguez and Willie Pastrano.
Unlike most accomplished trainers, Angelo Dundee never boxed, himself. He learned intricacies of the manly art while acting as a "bucket man" to some of the sport's grandmasters of the day. His mentors included Charlie Goldman, Ray Arcel, and Chickie Ferrera.
Dundee moved to Miami Beach, FL in the 1950s and helped his brother Chris run the 5th Street Gym. His first world champion was Carmen Basilio, who won the Welterweight Championship from Tony DeMarco in 1955.
Angelo Dundee is most known for training Muhammad Ali. He traveled around the world with Ali and was the cornerman in all but two of Ali's fights (Tunney Hunsaker in 1960 and Jimmy Ellis in 1971).
In 1971, as both the manager and trainer of Ellis, but only Ali's trainer, Dundee decided to work with Ellis for the fight with Muhammad Ali. It was one of only two fights in Ali's career in which Dundee was not in 'The Greatest's' corner. Ali knocked out Ellis in the 12th round.
Dundee would train Ali from 1960 to 1981 and was very much a part of the Ali's life and the Muhammad Ali caravan of the 1960s and 70s. And even as late as 1981, when Ali was a mere shadow of himself, Dundee was still there for his man.
Rumble in the Jungle
After Ali upset Foreman in 1974, Angelo Dundee was immediately accused by Foreman of purposely loosening the ring ropes before the fight to enable Ali to lean far back against the ropes, almost in parallel fashion, to avoid Foreman's fuselage of hard punches. Dundee consistently and vehemently denied tampering with the ropes.
It was on this night, October 30, 1974, Ali would introduce his now famous Rope-a-Dope technique.
Sugar Ray Leonard
Dundee started training Sugar Ray Leonard, a young fighter whom he referred to as "a smaller version of Ali," in 1977, shortly after Leonard captured gold at the Olympics in Montreal. But Dundee's role in the Leonard camp was unlike his role in Ali's. Dundee was not a full-time trainer for Leonard. He oversaw Leonard's training procedures but left the day-to-day work to Dave Jacobs and Janks Morton. It wasn't until two to three weeks prior to a fight that Dundee would join Leonard's camp. He would also choose Leonard's opponents. For his services, Dundee received 15% of Leonard's purses.
In one of the most revered moments in boxing history, it was the brilliant motivator, Angelo Dundee, who was caught on camera urging on Sugar Ray Ray Leonard in his megafight with Thomas Hearns. With Leonard well behind prior to the start of Round 13, Dundee uttered the now epic words:
"You're blowing it, son! You're blowing it!"
Leonard would go on to hurt Hearns in the 13th Round before earning a stoppage in Round 14.
After Leonard and Dundee parted ways in 1987, Dundee primarily worked with George Foreman (during the second half of his comeback) Pinklon Thomas, Trevor Berbick, Michael Nunn, Michael Olajide and Tom Zbikowski among others. He was also hired by Oscar De La Hoya in 2008 as an advisor for De La Hoya vs Pacquiao.
"Angelo died surrounded by family and friends," his family said in a statement.
"He was very happy that he got to celebrate Ali's 70th birthday earlier this year and also that he got to go to the Hall of Fame.
"He still had much to do, but led a full and extraordinary life."
Dundee's son Jim told the Miami Herald: "He was recuperating and coming along quite well.
"He was already making plans to (go) to Las Vegas for another event in two weeks.
"Thankfully the whole family was with him. We have lost a great man.
"My dad led a wonderful life. Sadly, many of the great people from that generation are gone.
"This is the end of an era."
Angelo Dundee Facts
- Dundee was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994
- Dundee trained Ali for both Liston fights and was in Ali's corner when he upset Liston in 1964 to win his first title. He also trained Ali for, and served in his corner during, the 'Fight of the Century,' 'Thrilla in Manilla' and 'Rumble in the Jungle.'
- Dundee trained Leonard for, and was in Leonard's corner during, the famous 'No Mas' fight in 1980 (Leonard vs Duran II), Leonard vs Hearns I (1981) and Leonard vs Hagler (1987).
- Dundee helped train Foreman for, and was in Big George's corner during Holyfield vs Foreman (1991).
- Dundee also helped train Foreman for, and was in Foreman's corner on the night Big George knocked out Michael Moorer to regain the lineal heavyweight title, becoming the oldest heavyweight champion in the history of the sport.
Rest in Peace Angelo!
Lee is Managing Editor of FightSaga.com, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.
A gym rat in the 1990s, Lee was trained by 1976 Olympic Silver Medalist Charles Mooney and several retired seasoned pros. He was also a sparring partner for former WBA Super Middleweight Champion Steve Little who upset Michael Nunn for the WBA Super Middleweight Title in '94.
Lee created FightSaga.com to honor and preserve boxing's rich heritage, chronicle the achievements of top fighters, celebrate the legacy of big fights and provide a fun, educational experience for fight fans.