Buffalo Veteran Boxers Association
7th Annual Hall of Fame Dinner Banquet
Friday, August 15, 2003
Salvatore's Italian Gardens, Depew, New York


  • Jackie Donnelly, Lightweight 1958-1963
    In the 1930's and 1940's, Jackie Donnelly was the epitome of a First Ward kid - a tough little Irishman, more out of necessity than choice. Jackie was born on December 22, 1934. He graduated from St. Bridget's Catholic School and attended McKinley High School.

    At about nine years of age, Jackie abandoned street fighting and joined the Babcock Street Boys & Girls Club because, by his own admission, he was too small to play other sports. In his "salad days" at the neighborhood club, Jackie lost only one bout and that was to Danny DiLiberto, who went on to become a rated pro lightweight boxer. Jackie rapidly progressed to a popular amateur boxer and in 1951 entered the Courier-Express Golden Gloves Tournament as a bantamweight. He didn't lost until the final championship bout.

    In 1952, at the age of 17, Jackie enlisted in the United States Air Force. Furthermore, in addition to his military duties, he was a member of several service boxing teams and toured the country participating in more than 200 bouts before being discharged in 1956. During his enlistment he won the USAF Bantamweight championship and the All-Service Bantamweight title.

    Jackie joined the professional ranks in 1958 as a lightweight and retired in 1961, achieving an impressive record of 32 bouts with only two losses. His first loss was to Bobby Scanlon in a questionable decision. Jackie was floored by a punch after the bell ending the fourth round but gamely finished the twelve round bout, even though he could not recall anything about the last eight rounds of action. The flagrant foul was noted and mentioned by sports writers in the next day's issues of local newspapers. His second loss was to Paola Rosi in Boston. Rosi was an internationallly rated boxer from Italy whom Jackie had previously beaten in Buffalo for the New York State Welterweight Championship.

    In 1963 Jackie attempted a comeback in Allentown, Pennsylvannia, and knocked out his opponent in the third round. Even though he scored an easy victory, Jackie chose to retire from the ring.

    After his retirement from the professional ranks, Jackie became an iron worker in Union 45 for thirty-seven years. He also operated his own gym, where he trained and coached young amateurs from 1979-1984. He performed the same duties for the next 12 years at the Babcock Street Boys & Girls Club, where he staged outstanding amateur boxing cards. He now works part-time at the fitness center of the Buffalo Club on Delaware Avenue.

    Jackie, still a resident of the First Ward, is the proud father of four girls, has eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.

  • Stan Fitzgerald, Lightweight 1958-1963
    When asked why he became a boxer, Stan Fitzgeralld replied, "because boys in my neighborhood were kind of tough. They took my popsicles and candy away."

    Born Stanford Fitzgerald on July 4, 1934, he attended schools in Buffalo, where his name could usually be found on the honor roll. He started boxing at age 17 while attending Technical High School, where he also participated in Track & Cross Country. Starting off in the local Golden Gloves tournament, Stan entered the 1951 novice 112 lb. division, and was the runner-up that year. Subsequently, he won Golden Gloves titles in 1952 and 1953, and Niagara District A.A.U. championships in 1953 and 1954. Later that year he became one of Buffalo's most successful amateur boxers by being the runner-up to the Eastern Golden Gloves 126 lb. champion in NYC's Madison Square Garden. Also, in 1954 he captured the National A.A.U. 125 lb. crown in Boston at the Boston Garden.

    While Stan was engaging in amateur fights, many of them out-of-town, he was also attending Erie County Technical Institute, majoring in Construction Technology. After completing this two-year course, Stan took a job with the NYS Department of Transportation as a surveyor, working on highway design and inspection of construction.

    Stan turned pro in 1955, and after a few fights was named "Prospect of the Month" by The Ring magazine in their July 1956 issue. Subsequently, he had a 10 bout winning streak snapped when he was stopped by Earl Dennis, who hit him with a flagrant low punch. In 1957 Stan was drafted into the U.S. Army and served as a paratrooper stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Later, after being discharged in February 1959, he resumed his boxing career and took Bernie Blancher as his manager. In early 1960 Stan traveled to Philadelphia where he fought an eight-round bout with the local favorite Sid "Sweet Pea" Adams, losing a highly disputed "home town" decision. The fans were so incensed by this injustice, that they threw debris into the ring.

    A few months later, Stan received some publicity when he fought 3 bouts within the space of 5 days. After driving to Philadelphia for a 10 round bout, he drove all the way to Sarnia, Ontario (almost 600 miles) where he fought another main event the following evening! Then Stan drove back down to Akron, Ohio and had a third main event 3 days later. Those who have seen Fitzgerald fight say that he won with a swarming style that overwhelmed his opponents.

    After finding it difficult to obtain opponents, Stan retired from boxing with only 3 losses on his record, two of which were highly disputed. He continued working for the State of New York, and retired after 41 years. Stan lives in Buffalo, and has 2 daughters and 7 grandchildren.

  • Tony LaBarbara, Lightweight 1959-1969
    When I first met Tony LaBarbara I was amazed by the excellent physical condition he was in. LaBarbara fought professionally until he was in his early 30's. He was still participating in neighborhood boxing exhibitions when he was 50. Tony is still a regular at the gym. Until he began to experience knee problems, Tony was one of the top handball players in the city of Buffalo. He now devotes a great deal of his free time to fishing.

    LaBarbara is a very positive, confident, enthusiastic and successful gentleman. LaBarbara feels that a very successful boxing career gave him the confidence that made him successful in his City of Buffalo job and succeeding jobs as a restaurant manager, health club manager and the owner of a very successful used car sales business. His mother's strong religious faith brought him back to the church and helped him deal with some of his personal problems.

    It was his father as well as Johnny Sacco that encouraged LaBarbara to begin his boxing career. Tony began training at Singer's Gym under the watchful eye of Frank Alberta. LaBarbara's amateur career stretched out over a three year period and included 18 fights, most of which he won. In his first fight Tony KO'd Oscar Monterro in 24 seconds.

    LaBarbara turned pro in 1959 with Cosmo Militello as his manager. Later in the year Tony switched managers and was signed to a two year contract by Art Raiseen and Phil Gliosca. Tony proceeded to win fourteen consecutive fights over the next three years. On March 15, 1960, LaBarbara won a six-round decision over Ray MacNeil. The fight was part of an excellent card at Memorial Auditorium that featured Tony Dupas and Jose Tones in the main event.

    On May 3, 1960, Tony won a six-round decision over Carmen Scialabba. Although victorious in the fight, Tony suffered a broken jaw and did not fight for 6 months. On April 3, 1961, LaBarbara had an excellent fight with Estella Cruz. It was a six-round fight that was full of action. LaBarbara was victorious in a fight that the Buffalo Evening News described as "blistering."

    Tony's first ten-rounder and first big fight was against the veteran Ike Chestnut on April 2, 1962 at Memorial Auditorium. It was expected that the winner would receive a fight with Junior Lightweight champion Flash Elorde. The fight ended in a draw and neither figher received that fight with Elode. In addition, Chestnut never gave LaBarbara a rematch.

    Afer a six-moth layoff, LaBarbara resumed his career in New York City, in February 1963. With the move LaBarbara's career was taken over by NYC manager Nunzio DeLucia, and Buffalo trainer Tony Pinto. The move had the complete backing of former manager Phil Gliosca. After defeating Pablo Acevedo and Tony Tozzo, LaBarbara fought three fights with Angelo Soto, losing on March 23rd, fighting a draw on May 18th, and winning an eight rounder on August 3rd.

    LaBarbara's next fight would be his biggest fight since the Ike Chestnut fight. On January 3, 1964, Tony would fight Frankie Narvaez in Madison Square Garden, the winner to fight Flash Elorde for the Junior Lightweight crown. Unfortunately Tony lost the fight on a TKO in the 5th round. On a more positive note, LaBarbara made $3,000, the biggest payday of his career. This was a far cry from the $150 check that he received for his first fight in Welland, Ontario. That check actually bounced!

    With a growing family and a good civil service job with the city of Buffalo, Tony decided to retire from the ring. He remained close to boxing by training Tony Ventura as well as operating a health club.

    After a four year layoff, Tony returned to the ring in April 1968. Over the next 2 years LaBarbara had five fights, winning 4 and fighting a six-round draw with Tom Kristian. Tony concluded his career on September 16h, with an 8 round decision over Willie Williams at Memorial Auditorium. Although both the Buffalo Evening News and the Buffalo Courier Express carried a series of articles concerning a possible Vince Cala - Tony LaBarbara fight, the fight never materialized. It would have rivaled the Jackie Donnelly - Bobby Scanlon fight of 1960. Unfortunately boxing promoter Don Elbaum was unable to financially bring the two fighters together. The fight was never held and LaBarbara's boxing career came to an end. Tony concluded his career with a record of 22 wins, 2 losses, and 2 draws.

  • Bobby Scanlon (1936-1975), Lightweight 1954-1966
    Bobby Scanlon had a very difficult childhood growing up in Father Baker's orphanage. Possessing choirboy looks, Bobby was frequently the target of tougher kids. Scanlon turned to boxing and became the orphanage champion.

    Scanlon began his pro career in mid 1954. During the first 2 1/2 years of his career, he was undefeated in his first 22 fights. He competed mainly in New York City with occasional stops in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Erie, Pennsylvania.

    Bobby's sister Carol remembers her brother driving his powder blue Thunderbird around the First Ward. He is also remembered as a very generous brother who returned home during the Christmas season to buy gifts for his sisters.

    Bobby Scanlon's manager, Mike Scanlon (no relation), then moved Bobby and his other three fighters, Rocky Fumerele, Richie Todaro and Joey Giambra to San Francisco in 1957. After a brief stay Todaro returned to Buffalo. The remaining three fighters occupied the same house along with Mike Scanlon, and they all became top contenders in their divisions. Scanlon improved his winning streak to 32 in California. He defeated such top fighters as Lauro Salas, Wallace "Bud" Smith, Joey Lopes and Davy Gallardo.

    Following the March 1957 fight with Davy Gallardo, Scanlon broke with his managaer Mike Scanlon. Bobby was already showing a dislike for the tough training techniques utilized by Mike. His contract was purchased by Art Benjamin, and later by Nick Kobseff and Lou Sabella. Freddie Apostoli, former middleweight champion, would later become Bobby Scanlon's trainer.

    According to Rocky Fumerele, "Bobby Scanlon was his own worst enemy." Bobby was good looking and a good fighter. He was very popular amongst the Irish of San Francisco. If he would have remained in better shape and maintained a regular training schedule, "I have little doubt that Bobby Scanlon would have been the Lightweight champion of the world."

    From late 1958 to early 1960 Scanlon not only saw his winning streak come to an end, but he also lost five of seven fights. Scanlon's winning streak came to an end when he suffered a third-round knockout to Paoli Rosi. Prior to this fight Bobby was rated third in the Lightweight Division behind Rosi and Carlos Ortiz. Soon after his initial loss to Rosi, Scanlon lost another ten-round decision to Paoli. Bobby also lost a pair of ten-round decisions to Johnny Gonsalves was well as a decision to Alfredo Urbina. Scanlon did, however, win a big ten-round decision over Orlando Zulueta.

    Scanlon then returned to Buffalo to fight fellow Buffalonian Jackie Donnelly. In a hard fought 12-round fight, Scanlon won the New York State Lightweight championship. It was one of Bobby's biggest paydays as he collected $4,937 for the fight.

    Following the first Johnny Gonsalves fight, Scanlon began to suffer double vision. It got worse as he prepared for the second fight with Gonsalves. The problem continued through the Jackie Donnelly fight, as well as an August fight with Chico Santos. Bobby laid off from boxing for a year before he returned to fighting again in 1962. Things were not the same. In addition to the double vision, Scanlon had suffered a serious kidney and liver infection. He changed managers four times, and saw his level of competition go down, but still lost seven of his last thirteen fights.

    Although Bobby was fighting less frequently in 1965 and 1966, he was still experiencing eye problems. Finally, Bobby retired from boxing in mid-1966. After he retired from the ring everything went downhill. Early in his boxing career Bobby was offered a job in public relations with the Oakland Raiders. Now there were few job offers. Although he became deeply religious, his physical and mental health began to deteriorate. Scanlon was struggling to adjust to life without boxing, struggling to restore some meaning to his life, when he died in a fire at the Hotel Lackawanna on June 23, 1975. Bobby was only 39 years old. His final record was 42-12 and 1.

  • Frankie Schoell (1901-1981), Welterweight & Middleweight 1918-1930)
    Old timers who saw Frankie Schoeel box all agreed that the "East Side Dutchman," as he was known, was one of the best. Although he was never a champion, he fought and beat many of the champs of those days, while usually conceding his opponents considerable poundage.

    Frankie was born on Buffalo's East Side in 1901, and lived his entire life in this city. He attended St. Mary's school where he completed the 9th grade, and started fighting as a lightweight in 1918 in an era of no-decision bouts. Managed by Bert Finch, he quickly became a crowd favorite, and moved into 10-round main events by the following year - fighting such veterans as Joe "Kid" Kansas, Jake Schiffer, Willie Jackson, and Lockport Jimmy Duffy. In 1922 and 1923 Schoell was matched against top-notchers such as Dave Shade, Soldier Bartfield and future champion Pete Latzo. Frankie beat Jack Britton in 1923, a year after Britton lost his welterweight title. By this time, Schoell was a full-fledged welterweight.

    By 1924, Frankie was ranked in the top 10 of the welterweight division by Ring Magazine, and started taking on the best of his division, and even such good middleweights such as Tiger Flowers (to a draw), in which Schoell was outweighed by 11 pounds.

    None of the ranked contenders or champions cared to meet Frankie in the ring, so he was forced to box men who outweighted him. In 1926, Frankie fought the first of a 7 bout series with future light-heavyweight champion Maxie Rosenbloom, and Maxie always had a 10 pound or more advantage.

    Although Frankie Schoell fought 7 different world champions, either before or after they won titles, he never got a title fight himself. The closest he came to landing a championship was when promoter Charley Murray signed Mickey Walker to defend his welterweight championship in a 15-round bout against Schoell - to be held in Buffalo's Broadway Auditorium in 1926. But Walker decided to take a tune-up bout against Pete Latzo in Scranton prior to the Schoell fight, and to increase the gate it was decided to make it a championship affair. Latzo won a 10-round decision and the world's welterweight crown. Although Latzo had fought Frankie 4 previous times, he refused to give Schoell a title shot. Latzo lost his championship a year later to Joe Dundee.

    Frankie Schoell was only knocked out once in over 150 fights, when he disregarded his corner's advice to box and decided to slug it out with the heavier (by 13 1/2 pounds) Jimmy Slattery. Slats KO'd Schoell in the 3rd round.

    Schoell continued to fight until the end of 1930, when he hung up his gloves and took a job as a maintenance employee with the Buffalo Parks Department. He later took a similar position at Memorial Auditorium, retiring in 1958. He also continued to give advice to aspiring young boxers, based on his wide experience. Frankie died in Buffalo in 1981.

  • John Sudac, Jr., Manager/Trainer 1950s-1980s
    John Sudac, Jr., was a former Golden Gloves Champion and made even greater contributions to boxing as the owner of Singer's Gym and trainer of scores of young boxers. Sudac fought 39 amateur fights in the 1940's and took his Golden Gloves title in 1942 during a boxing career that spanned decades.

    A Tonawanda resident who retired in 1987 from a career as a steamfitter - working out of Steamfitters Local 395, Johnny Sudac was a multi-talented man who had an exceptional love for the sport of boxing. He once turned down an opportunity to dramatically increase his financial status by refusing an offer to relocate and apply his wielding skills on the Alaskan Pipeline Project. He confided to his family members that he could not leave boxing or his "kids."

    Sudac took over the most renowned boxing gym in the region in 1966. Founded by promoter Jack Singer in the early 1920's, Singer's Gym has been a haven for American and Canadian boxers for much of this century. Sudac took it over from John McCarthy when the gym was moved from its original location downtown to a 45-step walk-up at 629 Main Street. In 1982, when transit mall construction cut automobile access to the gym, Sudac moved the boxing ring and weight bags to yet another location at 151 E. Eagle Street.

    Sudac worked closely with the Police Athletic League and many other local groups, and his efforts led to lasting friendships with boxers, sportscasters, and promoters. He took pride in maintaining a code of gentlemanly conduct in his gym.

    In 1982, he recalled for a reporter, a list of "some good fighters" who had trained in his gym, including Hank Pelow, Jimmy Ralston, Al Quinney, and Ralph Racine. He also recalled "a lot of wise guys who got straightened out here - they found out they had to be a gentlemen." John Sudac, Jr., died Saturday, December 12, 1987. His efforts in promoting the sport and providing training and career opportunities for young men earned him a special commendation from the Erie County Legislature in 1982. Also, James D. Griffin, Mayor of the City of Buffalo, officially proclaimed Saturday, February 20, 1988, as John Sudac, Jr., Day in the City of Buffalo, in memory of him and his positive impact on the sport of boxing in our city. No matter how strong and powerful John portrayed himself in the boxing world, his family enjoyed the warm loving side of him - who pampered and honored his parents, adored his sisters, and remained devoted to his fourteen nieces and nephews.

  • Person of the Year: Joseph Cardina
    Although Joe Cardina's action inside the ring was limited to intramural bouts in college and inter-camp frays in the US Army Air Corps during World War II, his involvement in boxing spanned more than 55 years. It all began in 1950, when he joined the promotion department of the Buffalo Courier Express and promoted the Western New York Golden Gloves Tournament. In those days, when boxing occupied a more prominent place in the sports world, the local tournament drew SRO crowds - often thousands - to Buffalo's Memorial Auditorium. So many aspiring young boxers participated in the tournaments that three nights of preliminary bouts were necessary to qualify boxers for two additional nights of semi-final and championship finals at the "Aud." When the Courier-Express relinquished the Golden Gloves franchise in the late 1950's, Joe joined Msgr. Franklin Kelliher, who for four years staged the tournament in the Working Boys Home. He then played a key role in the subsequent sponsorship of the tournament by the Buffalo Council of the Knights of Columbus in their clubrooms on Delaware Avenue.

    Joe served as an officer in the Niagara District of U.S.A. Boxing for twenty years. This organization is the governing body of amateurs in the United States. His duties, which were shared with Tom Stenhouse, then District President, included weight-in, and evenly matching opponents for boxing cards. For 18 years he performed the same duties, plus officiating bouts in the New York Empire State Games, and at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY. His officiating certification enabled him to referee bouts in several National Tournaments and in boxing cards featuring area boxers against national teams from Canada, Finland, Ireland, Russia, and Ghana, West Africa. Of the thousands of bouts in which he officiated, several included future professioinal champions - the most prominent of which was Mike Tyson, who became the world's heavyweight champion. Joe was one of the judges in Tyson's last amateur bout, and Joe also served as timekeeper in Baby Joe Mesi's first pro bout in Buffalo.

    Joe is retired after a 35 year career with newspapers, including the Tonawanda News, Buffalo Courier Express, and the Buffalo News. In the early 1960's he was the publicity director for the nationally televised All-America Football games, featuring the nation's best college players - at War Memorial Stadium. He also created and directed promotional events for the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. Joe is also a veteran pilot with 35 years of active and reserve military service, having logged more than 5,000 hours of flying. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.

    Today, as he has been for many years, Joseph Cardina is a loyal and hardworking member of the Buffalo Veteran Boxing Association Ring #44 - as well as the group's Recording Secretary. Joe is the father of six children, and eight grandchildren.

  • Master of Ceremony: Angelo Prospero
    It was with great pride that BVBA Ring #44 could once again introduce Angelo Prospero as "Master of Ceremony" for the 7th Annual Hall of Fame Dinner Banquet. Angelo is recognized as a premier boxing writer and 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 what else? - History! He is currently a Professor of History at Trident Technical College in Charleston, South Carolina, where he was recently 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 Prospero's love of history is only equaled by his love of boxing. He had many accomplishments over the years: as a sports reporter or 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 on 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 pride in his knowledge of the many great fighters that Western New York has produced over the past century.

    In the early 1970's, Angelo 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. He is currently a licensed boxing judge in South Carolina, and has judged hundreds of bouts including two championship fights.

    Angelo Prospero'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 five years at our Dinner Banquets. The "professor" now performs like a well oiled machine.

  • Special Guest Speaker: George Chuvalo - Former Canadian Heavyweight Champion
    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 Jermone in one round, and finally retiring 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, and 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 at Madison Square Garden said, "I've never met anyone tougher, in or out of the ring."

    George Chuvalo was a powerful fighter, at home in the ring, no matter where that ring was. Therefore it is 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. We, of Ring #44 are honored to have him as a special guest for our Hall of Fame Induction Dinner.

  • Special Guest: Rocky Fratto - The Fighting Pride of Geneva, New York
    Even as a high school youngster, Ralph "Rocky" Fratto dreamed of being a professional boxer. He started his career in the service, and continued as an amateur compiling a 51-8 record. Rocky went to Tony Graziano, legendary trainer and manager from Canastota, who helped Carm Basilio start his championship career, and asked him to manage his career as a pro. Graziano had retired, and was reluctant to re-enter the strenuous boxing world. But Fratto persisted and Tony Graz relented - but set up stringent conditions for his new fighter. No worry! Young Rocky was a spartan pupil and with Ralph, Sr., they proved a formidable team. Rocky reeled off 23 straight wins - drawing huge crowds all over Western and Central New York.

    On April 25, 1981, before 9,000 boxing fans at Rochester's War Memorial, Rocky won the NABF middleweight title by decisioning Rocky Mosley. This gained him a WBA title shot for Sugar Ray Leonard's vacated crown against Japan's Tadashi Mihara. Fratto lost a close 15-round decision to Mihara in a hard fought contest. In all, Rocky Fratto won 29 - and lost 4. However, his main legacy was a revitalization of the boxing game in the area, at a time when the sport was in the doldrums. Today, Rocky is a highly successful businessman in the construction field.