Dick, twin brother Wally, and sister Carol were born of Ukrainian-Italian parents, Walter and Virginia (Milano) Topinko in 1944.While growing up and facing the challenges of Lackawanna’s tough first ward Dick and Wally were small in stature but quickly made you pay for thinking that you had an advantage. They developed such a reputation for fighting anyone who tried to bully them that they earned the name “Double Trouble”. The athleticism of the twins emerged very quickly and capulted them into becoming all around athletes excelling in sports such as baseball, basketball, football and hockey. Dick also developed quite a golf game and loves the sport to this day.
Young Dick Topinko ‘s boxing career began in the fall of 1964, when Roy Brasch a friend and amateur boxer himself took Dick to Singer’s Gym in Buffalo. Dick will always be grateful for that. He was trained by Sam Cardinale and Tony Pinto but also received many hours of advice from Johnny Sudac and Joe Capuani.He was still a senior at McKinley Vocational High School in Buffalo but lived in Lackawanna when he first entered the ring as an amateur boxer. He also immediately embarked on a career in carpentry. While putting maximum effort on both fronts there was little leisure time for young Dick Topinko. Dick always enjoyed a good scrap, so boxing was a natural for him and he soon learned to love it. He became very dedicated, trained hard and was always in excellent shape. With only three months training he entered the Golden Gloves, won all four of his fights and the novice Jr. Welterweight championship in 1965.As a result of this performance young Dick was awarded his first trophy ever as the “Winningest Fighter of the tournament” from the Galanti Athletic Club. That same evening he met two of his all time idols, Ilio DiPaolo and Carmen Basilio, who would remain as permanent inspirations in Dick’s life. He continued boxing and was undefeated in 10 fights before being drafted into the Army. After serving a year in Vietnam where he had little time for boxing; Dick still managed to attain 1967 runner up in the U.S. Army All Command Light-welterweight boxing championship. Dick’s opponent (Drake), after winning three straight bouts via knockout, was taken the distance for the first and only time to secure the victory over Mr. Topinko. Upon his return home from the Army in 1967 he resumed his boxing career. After competing in the Nationals in Salt Lake City Utah which is a route to the Olympic trials, he had three more matches as an amateur boxer which resulted in a total combined amateur record of 27 wins and 3 losses. In 1968, Dick embarked upon two very challenging professions simultaneously. He turned pro as a boxer and officially joined the local carpenter’s union and excelled in both venues. Dick went undefeated in his first fourteen fights and was selected by Ring Magazine as prospect of the month in 1970. That same year he also was selected by Ring Magazine as fourth of the five best prospects in the world. Unfortunately the following year while competing in a match on the undercard of the former Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson Dick suffered a severe career ending injury. Upon his retirement from the sport Dick Topinko went on to enjoy success as a professional model; an actor; and a ballet performer. He appeared in plays and in TV commercials and performed with the Royal Dance Theatre at the Shea’s Buffalo. Over the years Dick remained in shape and helped many boxers in gyms around the area by training them and sparring with them. Dick gives all credit to the sport of Boxing as the catalyst to providing the self confidence and drive which inspired him to seek those challenging levels of artistic endeavors. Today Dick still maintains a very healthy training ritual and enjoys a wonderful life with his lovely wife Rosalie and their four children, and four grandchildren and many relatives and friends.
Tonight we are delighted to induct Dick Topinko into Ring 44 Boxing Hall of Fame.