Buffalo Veteran Boxers Association - Ring #44
The following biographies are edited from the program book handed out at the 6th Annual Hall of Fame Dinner Banquet held the evening of Friday, August 9, 2002.With over 330 BVBA members, inductee family members, and guests - the annual banquet honoring six Western New York Boxing Legends was a showcase of past glories and future hopes. Held at Salvatore's Italian Gardens, in Depew, NY, the evening was filled with the stories and dreams of boxers and fans. The following is a review of the six inductees, and other notable "special guests" and boxing celebrities. Comments by boxing historian Angelo Prospero, former Canadian Heavyweight Champion George Chuvalo, and heavyweight contender Joe Mesi highlighted the event. But most of all there was the sense of brotherhood - of individuals and families coming together to celebrate the past, take joy in the present, and express their dreams for the future of boxing in Western New York. Many thanks to all those - past and present - that have given generously of their time and energy to bring such well deserved success to Ringt #44!
"Lockport" Jimmy Duffy - Lightweight/Welterweight, 1908 - 1921
Born June 12, 1889, in Lockport, New York. Duffy complied a documented record of 172 total bouts with only 22 loses - but he is estimated to have fought well over 200 bouts, many of which were early "smokers" or unrecorded bouts due to poor record keeping in that time.
Although he twice defeated lightweight champ Freddie Welsh, and once won over welterweight champ Jack Britton, they were no-decision bouts. Jimmy could never get anything but non-title bouts until he fought the great Benny Leonard in 1919, this being well past Jimmy's prime - and was KO'd in two rounds.
When Jimmy fought the great Packy McFarland in Buffalo, Oct. 25, 1912 (a bout in which Jimmy was not expected to last more than three rounds) he forced the issue so that he completely baffled McFarland, opened a cut over his eye and gave him a swollen cheek. So furious was Duffy's attack that McFarland never could get set for his potent kayo punch. The battle went the ten round distance and was ruled ND-W for McFarland even though Duffy came out without a scratch. Jimmy rated Packy McFarland over Benny Leonard, "Kayo" Brennan, Leach Cross, Jack Britton, Philadelphia Jack O'Brien, Johnny Dundee, and "Knock-out" Brown as the best man he ever fought.
One of Duffy's most staggering upsets was registered over Knock-out Brown, a protege of Dumb Dan Morgan. Brown earned his nickname by scoring 17 straight knockouts in his first 17 fights. He was at the height of his career when he met Duffy on July 3, 1912 - in Buffalo. Duffy gave him one of the worst setbeacks of his career, cutting him up so badly that he had to be kept in Buffalo for a week before returning to New York.
Two years later, Nov. 19, 1914, at the Broadway Auditorium in Buffalo, NY - before a record breaking crowd, Jimmy Duffy proved conclusively that he was a real contender for the lightweight championship after a 10-round ND-W over the lightweight champion, Freddy Welsh. In one of Duffy's toughest fights he nearly stopped the British champion in the early part of the sixth round staggering Welsh with a solid left to the jaw. This was the second fight and second win over Welsh that year, with an earlier 8-round ND-W on Feb. 25, in St. Louis, Missouri.
Duffy's main weapons were his clever style of boxing, a lightning like deadly left hand, and a right cross, forever moving in, crowding his foe and forcing the fight. He fought his entire career with a partially crippled right arm. Jimmy broke his right elbow when he was six years old and it was never set. When Jimmy went into the Army during WWI, the doctors revealed his secret during his physical. After that, opponents could avoid that right cross and Jimmy wasn't the same figher that he had been.
Following his ring retirement in 1921 - after being KO'd by Rocky Kansas in the first round, Jimmy became a Sheriff's deputy, a position he held for 27 years on consecutive 3-year appointments. The "Duke of Lockport" - Jimmy Duffy, as he was known, put boxing on the map in western New York and will always be a champion to the people of Lockport, New York!
Art "Tiger" Foster - Lightweight, 1940 - 1949
Art was one of the best amateur boxers ever to come out of the Buffalo area. Born in October, 1919, in Rolla, Missouri, he started fighting at an early age, and was a member of the crack Brown Bombers A.C. team from St. Louis. It was here that Foster won the Ozark A.A.U. featherweight title. Later, after moving to Buffalo, he won the local Golden Gloves featherweight championship in 1939, and the following year won the Diamond Belt & Golden Gloves in the lightweight division. His amateur record totaled 59 wins with 36 KO's.
Art turned pro in late 1940, and his early record shows that he fought Johnny Greco six times in Canada, winning 3 and losing 3. Greco later went on to become Canadian welterweight champion.
In 1943, Foster joined the U.S. Army, serving in the South Pacific, and attaining the rank of Sergeant. It was during this time that he won the Army's Pacific welterweight title in Auckland, New Zealand. After his discharge in late 1945, and weighting 155 - Art got down to 139 pounds in his next fight in March 1946.
After a few more wins, Art was stopped by 18 year old Ron Delaney of Akron, Ohio, and decided to quit boxing. He later became a painter and a carpenter, retiring from the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority after 25 years of service. Foster died on November 4, 2000 after a short illness.
Sam Butera - Bantamweight, 1943 - 1949
Salvatore Butera was born December 11, 1927, and raised on Buffalo's West side. He was known as "The Atomic Muscle" during his boxing career in the U.S. Army - for his ability to jar his opponent when connecting. Sam started training for boxing at the age of fourteen at a time when there were plenty of role models of boxers to look up to. One in particular that he met while training at Singer's Gym, was a former top lightweight contender named, Bobby Tracey. Sammy learned the fundamentals of boxing and was soon managed by Bobby.
Sam started out in the bantamweight class and went on to win the 1943 NYS Golden gloves novice Bantamweight title. After racking up a string of knockouts, Sammy went on to win the 1944 NYS Golden Gloves open class Bantamweight Championship. Sammy had an opportunity to fight for the British Empire Bantamweight title up in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens late in 1944 & wound up knocking out his opponent from London in 39 seconds of the first round. Sam moved up to the featherweight division in early 1945 & unanimously won the 1945 NYS Golden Gloves Featherweight Championship.
Sam was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1945 and was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington. Had he not been drafted, Sammy would have begun a world tour in the fall of 1945 at the request of the U.S. government. He would have started his world tour in England and then traveled through South America. During his two-year service in the U.S. Army from 1945-47, Sammy made his mark on the North West coast. He won the U.S. Army featherweight titles in three different army divisions, the 6th Army, 8th Army, and the 25th Division Army title. In 1947, he was selected as one of ten contestants representing the U. S. Army at Fort Lewis, Washington in the A.A.U. Junior Boxing Tournament. One of the other fellow army contestants was an up and coming boxer who would eventually go on to become the Undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the World, Rocky Marciano. Sam cherishes his U.S. Army Boxing team photo with him and Rocky in it. Sam also was a boxing instructor at the North Fort Sports Arena at Fort Lewis.
Sam holds a very impressive amateur record - in 105 amateur bouts, he won 103 fights, 100 of them by knockout, 3 by decision, while losing only two by decision. After being honorably discharged from the service in 1947, Sam returned home to Buffalo and decided to turn pro. He met and married wife, Arlene in 1947, and had one daughter. Sam hung up the gloves after a two-year professional career, as his interests were in the restaurant business. Over the years, Sam has owned four successful restaurants serving Italian cuisine. He is well known for his many tasty Italian dishes, especially his meatballs! Sam has resided all his life in the same house he grew up in on Buffalo's West side. Sam is truly an inspiration for his dedication to the sport of boxing, and his Buffalo area community!
Rocky Fumerelle - Middleweight, 1955 - 1963
They called him the "Blonde Bomber." And one California boxing fan compared him to Jack Dempsey who had "that same exciting way of trying to annihilate an opponent quickly, explosively, and in any way he knows how."
Richard Rocco Fumerelle was born in South Buffalo, and with the encouragement of his father, a former amateur lightweight, began boxing while attending South Park High School. In 1955 Rocky won the Buffalo Golden Gloves novice middleweight title, and the following year did the same in the Open division. In all, Fumerelle went undefeated in 19 amateur bouts, and rather than attempting to win any national titles, he decided to turn pro, under the management of Mike Scanlon.
Boxing in Buffalo was at a low ebb, so Scanlon decided to take his stable of fighters to California where they rented a house in San Francisco with Joey Giambra, Bobby Scanlon and Richie Todaro. During this time Rocky appeared on the undercard of numerous Richmond, Oakland, and San Francisco promotions, and according to one Richmond writer, was "Northern California's most popular preliminary fighter." (It was customary then to award a prize watch to the most exciting figher of the evening, and Rocky almost always came away with the timepiece.)
Still undefeated after 16 bouts, Rocky returned to Buffalo, had a couple of easy wins, made the decision to leave Mike Scanlon, and signed with two NYC managers, Carmine Graziano & Tony Ferrente, who he believed could further his career. Later in 1959 Rocky was matched against the tough veteran Joe Micili, who had fought all the best welterweights, and came away with a 10-round decision win to remain undefeated in 25 bouts. A few months later, still feeling the effects of a flu bug, Fumerelle dropped a decision to Tony Dupas, for his first loss.
Rocky had only 4 more fights, the most notable of which was a victory over Ralph "Tiger" Jones, the veteran middleweight, who everyone had watched countless times on TV. After a few more fights, Fumerelle decided to retire from the ring, declaring that "it wasn't fun any more."
After attending Canisius College for a few years, Rocky went into the communications and property management business, where he is still active. Married to the former Rita Cafarella, they have two children and two grandchildren.
Dick Wipperman - Heavyweight, 1961 - 1968
Dick was born in July of 1941, son of Gertrude & Edward Wipperman Sr. Life was tough for the Wipperman family growing-up amongst the hard times of the Lakeview Projects - soup & day-old bread became the staple of their diet. Thus, no one was surprised when Dick left Grover Cleveland High School to go to work, and begin an amateur boxing career. He was not the first member of his family to enter the ring. His father was an amateur fighter, while his step-father and older brother Ed were pro fighters. Dick, in fact, would alway idolize his older brother, Ed Jr. It was also his brother who would pay Dick's gym fees early in his career.
Dick became an amateur fighter at the age of eighteen and then a professional figher two years later in 1961. By then Dick had entered Sloan High School and received his high school diplima. He was one of the many fighters who trained at Singer's Gym. Dick Wipperman was managed by Bernie Blanchard and trained at different times by George Smith, Tony Pinto and Prentice Hall. Wipperman was part of a stable of fighters that included his brother Ed, Vic Brown, Al & Manny Quinney, Willie Cole, Sammy Anderson, Stan Fitzgerald, Bobby Wartham and the concluding parts of the careers of Joey Giambra and Jimmy Watkins.
Due to some pressue from his job and some declining skills, Dick lost his last eight fights. Dick Wipperman fought all comers and was never afraid of a tough opponent. He was decisioned by Oscar Bonavena and Buster Mathis. He was also knocked out by Joe Frazier, Henry Copper and twice by George Chuvalo. His manager was also in the process of negotiating a fight with Sonny Liston when Dick decided to retire. Wipperman felt that George Chuvalo was his toughest opponent. He fought like a bulldozer! Dick felt that Henry Cooper was his hardest hitting opponent.
Dick is a marvelous person to talk with. He has a great sense of history, a love of the sport of boxing and a great deal of respect for all fighters that have ever entered the ring. Wipperman was a very close friend of Vic Brown and an admirer of Jimmy Ralston, Jackie Donnelly, Vinnie Cala, Tony La Barba and his boyhood idols, Joe and Phil Moscato.
Dick has no regrets for the direction his career went. He got to meet Sonny Liston, Floyd Patterson, Lee Oma, Rocky Graziano, and one of his favorite entertainers, Howard Keel. He also got to fight in Montreal, London, and he also headlined two boxing cards at Madison Square Garden.
In his own words - Dick Wipperman, although he lacked dynamite in his hands, he moved well and had a granite chin, a durable and darting left hand, as well as an awkwardly clever style that confused a lot of fighters.
Vic Brown - Heavyweight, 1963 - 1982
Vic Brown was born on November 20, 1939. During an amateur & professional career that extended from 1959 - 1982, Brown became one of boxing's top southpaw heavyweight fighters. In an amateur career that included 137 fights, Vic Brown won the National A.A.U. Heavyweight, the All-Army-Navy-Marine Championships, and a pair of divisional Golden Glove titles.
Vic began his professional career in May 1963. His career spanned twenty years. His pro career was managed by Johnny Sudac. Like his close friend, Dick Wipperman, Vic Brown fought all the top heavyweights of his day. He was always a very hard working and dedicated figher. On August 29, 1964, Brown was TKO'd in the first round by Alvin "Blue" Lewis. Vic won a 10-round decision over Von Clay in Buffalo on December 12, 1967. On January 16, 1967, he was KO'd by George Chuvalo in the 4th round, and then again on September 17, 1968, in the 3rd round.
The year 1971 was a big year for Vic Brown. Vic lost 10-round decisions to Ernie Terrell on April 28th, and Floyd Patterson on August 21st. The Patterson fight was held at the Peace Bridge Arena in Buffalo, and was nationally televised. On June 12th, Brown was KO'd in the 5th round by Ken Norton. In the following year he fought a two-round exhibition in Cleveland against Muhammad Ali.
As Vic Brown's career went into decline, he suffered 1st round knockouts at the hands of Terry Mims on January 12, 1978, and June 2, 1981.
When Vic's career came to an end, he relocated in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he helped in the development of a series of young fighers. He also served as a sparring partner for Pete McNally, Buster Mathis Jr., and Mike Tyson.
In mid-September 1996, Vic returned to Buffalo to visit friends and relatives. On October 11th, he suffered a fatal heart attack while jogging in Delaware Park. He was 56 years old.
BANQUET GUESTS & CELEBRITIES
Angelo Prospero - Master of Ceremony - 6th Annual Hall of Fame Dinner Banquet
It was with great pleasure that we introduced Angelo Prospero as "Master of Ceremony" for the 6th Annual Hall of Fame Dinner Banquet! Angelo is recognized as a premier boxing writer and a historian. Since he is originally from Batavia, he brings with him a great deal of pride and experience in Western New York. Angelo is a graduate of Canisius College with a Bachelor's and Master's degree in History. He is currently a Professor of History at Trident Technical College in Charleston, South Carolina, where he recently was presented with Trident's "Oracle Award" for teaching excellence. Without question, his devotion to his students and his knowledge of the subject are exceeded only by his love of history. He is an enthusiastic, and at times, dramatic instructor, who brings each topic to life. Prior to teaching at Trident, he had already experienced long and fruitful careers in education, teaching in both the New York and South Carolina public education systems, and various community colleges.
Angelo's love of history is only equaled by his love of boxing. He had many accomplishments over the years; as a sports reporter for the Batavia Daily News, sports editor of the Genesee Independent Press, his numerous articles for Ring, Boxing Illustrated, Boxing Digest, Unitas Boxing World magazines and the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame. Angelo has written many articles of title bouts like Frazier-Ali I, Hearns-Leonard I, Leonard-Duran I, Ali-Norton III and Hearns-Hagler. His articles were more than just descriptions of the fights themselves; they were-in-depth studies of the emotions of fighters, the behind the scenes maneuvering, the history of the period, and personal recollections. Mr. Prospero is also the author of the book titled, "Great Fights and Fighter." As a well-known boxing historian, Angelo Prospero takes great pride in his knowledge of the many great fighters that Western New York has produced over the past century.
In the early 1970s, Angelo Prospero founded "The Rochester Boxing Association" - where he served as president for eleven years. It became one of the premier Veteran Boxer's Associations in the country. Angelo is currently a licensed boxing judge in South Carolina, and has judged hundreds of bouts including two Championship fight.
Angelo's membership to Ring #44 is a powerful representation of the multi-talented and prestigious quality of our organization. Ring #44 takes great pride in sharing his enthusiasm and sense of humor over the past four years at our Dinner Banquets. The "Professor" now performs like a well-oiled machine.
George Chuvalo - Former Canadian Heavyweight Champion - Special Guest Speaker
A sports writer once said, "If all fights were a hundred rounds, George Chuvalo would be heavyweight champion for twenty years." George Chuvalo's story is one of the amazing sagas of the ring. First of all, in 93 fights he was never off his feet, despite meeting the best heavyweights in the world for over two decades. He won the Jack Dempsey Tournament in Toronto in 1956, and first won the Canadian title in 1958 - when he kayoed James J. Parker in one round. Twenty years later he was still Canadian champion, kayoing George Jerome in one round and retired still the champ.
When Chuvalo challenged British Empire champion Henry Cooper, the latter said, "I don't even want to meet him socially!"
George did meet Muhammad Ali twice, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Yvon Durelle, Ernie Terrell, Jerry Quarry, Jimmy Ellis, Floyd Patterson, and all the great heavyweights of two eras. In 91 bouts he scored 64 knockouts. In his last nine fights, up to age 41, he won eight, all by kayo - losing only a twelve round decision to Muhammad Ali. Jerry Quarry, who was kayoed by Chuvalo in seven rounds in Madison Square Garden said, "I've never met anyone toughter, in or out of the ring."
George Chuvalo was a powerful fighter - at home in the ring - no matter where the ring was. Therefore it was no surprise that he never lost a bout to a Western New York fighter. He beat Buffalonians - Dick Wipperman, Vic Brown, Tony Ventura, and Lloyd Washington; Rochesterians Bob Biehler and Mike Boswell; and Syracuse native Mike DeJohn.
George Chuvalo's career was one of the finest and most unique in boxing history for strength, bravery and longevity. A Chuvalo comes along once in a lifetime!
"Baby" Joe Mesi - New York State Heavyweight Champion - Special Guest
Buffalo's own Joe Mesi has a professional record of 23 wins, 0 losses, and 21 KO's. After a brilliant amateur career that led to a berth as an alternate on the 1996 U.S.A. Olympic Boxing Team, Joe turned pro on Nov. 1, 1997. Team Mesi has recently merged with Sugar Ray Leonard Enterprises, and has fulfilled one of their promises to the Western New York Public. With strong determination and resolve Baby Joe Mesi kept his career based in Buffalo and has successfully re-rooted the resurgence of boxing in Buffalo and the surrounding area. ESPN promotes and broadcasts boxing cards from this area nationally because of the success of Joe Mesi. He has maintained his winning ways and attracted sellout crowds in our local arenas. The Heavyweight Championsnip of the World is the other promise that they have made to themselves and the general public. We are privileged to enjoy this assault on the title. His 14th straight KO victim was Talmage Griffis. This was the main featured bout on a nationally televised broadcast of the ESPN 2 Friday Night Fight. "Baby Joe" is steadily climbing the ladder for a promising shot at a world title in the future. Ring #44 and the Western New York and Ontario boxing community is faithfully behind him to bring home a world championship title! For more information see: Mesi Team
John Tedesco - "Person of the Year!"
John Tedesco was born in Port Dalhouise, Canada in 1924. His family moved to Buffalo in 1930 where John attended Public Schools #1 and #2, as well as Boys Vocational High School. While attending high school John began his two careers that would bring him both fame and fulfillment. While still in high school he began working for the Ellicott Square Florist Shop. He remained with them in different capacities, with time off for the war, until 1967 when he opened Flowers By Johnny in Kenmore. During the next 23 years John became one of the most successful florist in Western New York. In 1974 he became the first local florist to be invited to Washington, D. C., to help decorate the White House for Christmas. John still does volunteer work for Grow Wholesale Florists.
John served in World War II from February, 1943 to November, 1945. He was in the military police stationed at both Pearl Harbor as well as on the island of Guam. Like so many people from his generation, John has devoted his life to service. John has been a long time member of the Kenmore Lions Club. He was president in 1993 and 1994, and in that year he received the Melvin Jones Award, the highest award that a member of the Lions can receive. John was also a member of the Kenmore Businessman's Association and the president of the group in 1973. John has also been a long-time member of the Niagara Frontier Retail Florist Association, and the United Florists of Western New York. He was president for four years of the former group, and a vice president of the latter group. John Tedesco is also a member of the VFW, American Legion and the Catholic War Veterans.
John's other love has been boxing. He competed in the Golden Glove and Diamond Belt tournaments while in high school. Tom Stenhouse was his first opponent in an amateur fight held at the Mars Hotel. While in the marines, Tedesco had 43 fights. After WW II John followed his wife's advice and retired as an active fighter. Jack Singer was like a father to John. Jack guided John as he entered a "new" boxing career - that of a licensed boxing second. John's major duty was that as a glove man. He worked many of the Bobby Scanlon and Joey Giambra fights. Jack Singer frequently called up John Tedesco to work the corners for many of the out of town fighters.
Today John is a loyal and hardworking member of the Buffalo Veteran Boxing Association - Ring #44, as well as the group's Sgt. of Arms. John has been married to Pauline for more than 50 years and has three sons and a daughter - as well as nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Ring #44 is unanimous in their support for John Tedesco as he receives this award as "Person of the Year" for his many contributions to boxing in Western New York.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS!Buffalo Sports Society - Host Society of the 2005 North American Indigenous Games
It is with a great deal of pride that we at the Four Directions Foundation & the Patterson Consulting Group announce the formation of the Buffalo Sports Society. We are excited about the opportunity to submit our Letter of Intent & Preliminary bid Proposal to become the Host Society of The North American Indigenous Games during the summer of 2005.
History: For thousands of years before European contact, Aboriginal people held games throughout the continent of North America, often being revered as Turtle Island. Historical records dictate that many modern team sports were derived from traditional indigenous games. What is not well known is that these games taught personal and social values, which were a curriculum for their way of life. These practices taught each generation values and personal qualities that are reflective throughout indigenous lifestyles and cultures to the present day. Qualities such as honesty, courage, respect, personal excellence, and gratitude for the guidance of parents, elders and communities - prepared children and youth for the responsibility of adulthood.
Present: The North American Indigenous Games will be a celebration of indigenous cultures from across our continent as over 7,000 athletes gather to compete in our own games. This event will no doubt be a truly splendid combination of sport and culture. It will feature remarkable performances - by hosting competitions from a wide variety and multitude of sporting events. These events include archery, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, boxing, canoeing, golf, field lacrosse, rifle shooting, soccer, softball, swimming, Tae Kwon Do, volleyball and wrestling. It will also include more traditional First Nations pursuits such as hoop dancing, lahal and a social Pow Wow.
The North American Indigenous Games promises to be the largest amateur sporting event in Buffalo, New York, and perhaps even the largest of its kind in the United States during the summer of 2005. The Host Society believes these games will be remembered in years to come, by participants and spectators alike, as a true world-class celebration of sport and Indigenous cultures. The 2005 North American Indigenous Games, and the Host Society for these Games, will create immediate and tangible opportunities to leave substantial legacies for youth, sport, culture and heritage preservation. Specifically, the Bid will revitalize sport, recreation and physical fitness activity through a strong commitment to elite athletic development. The 2005 Bid will allow the Haudenosaunee to showcase our unique identities and cultural diversity to the world.
The Buffalo Sport Society is an emerging leader in developing amateur sport excellence, from recreation and leisure grassroots level - to Indian Country's high performance, elite athlete. The Buffalo Sports Society is dedicated to strengthening the unique contribution that the redemptive power of sport makes to our unique First Nations identity, culture and society.
Corporate Sponsors, Communnity Organizations and Volunteers interested in becoming "Friends of the Games" can contact Guy G. Patterson, Jr., at 716-822-1389. For more information see NAIG
Future Western New York Boxing Museum gets first donation!
Angelo Prospero, Master of Ceremony of the BVBA Annual Hall of Fame Dinner Banquets, donates an original poster of the 1913 Jimmy Duffy vs Tommy Burns fight to start the museum collection.