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Tue, 08.30.1921

Angelo Dundee, Boxing Coach born

Angelo Dundee

*Angelo Dundee was born on this date in 1921.  He was a white-Italian-American boxing trainer and cornerman.  

Dundee was born Angelo Mirena in Philadelphia to Italian immigrant parents Filomena Cianelli, mother of seven children, and Angelo Merenda, a railway construction worker, an Italian native from Reggiano Gravina. The father's name was erroneously transcribed in Mirena at the time of immigration. In the early 1940s, he changed his surname to 'Dundee,' after the United States champion boxer Johnny Dundee.

During World War II, he served as an aircraft mechanic in the United States Air Force, including an active service deployment to England in 1944-45. His first experience of cornerman work was in U.S.A.F. boxing tournaments. After leaving the Air Force in late 1945, at the war's end, he headed to New York City, where he was employed at Stillman's Gym as an apprenticeship and boxing trainer.  After completing his apprenticeship, Dundee relocated to Miami Beach, Florida, where he opened the “Fifth Street Gym” with his brother.

Carmen Basilio was the first World Champion for whom Dundee acted as a cornerman in 1955 and Sugar Ray Robinson for the World Middleweight Crown in 1957.   On Feb. 19, 1957, he was in his Louisville hotel when the phone rang: "I am Mr. Cassius Clay, and I will be the heavyweight champion of the world. I would like to talk to you."  The rest would be history.  Dundee traveled around the world with Ali, and he was the cornerman in all but two of Ali's fights (Tunney Hunsaker in 1960 and Jimmy Ellis in 1971).

Dundee trained the young Cassius Clay, as Ali was then known, in most of his early bouts, including those with Archie Moore (who had trained Clay before his partnering with Dundee) and Sonny Liston, where Clay won the heavyweight title.  Regarding the transformation of Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, Dundee said, “Clay, and then Ali, were two similar fighters but not the same guy. But he did it all by himself.”   Dundee continued to train Ali in all of his fights until his exile from boxing. Upon Ali's return to the sport, Dundee trained him in almost all of his fights, including Ali's famed bouts with fighters such as Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, Joe Frazier, Floyd Patterson, George Foreman, Ken Norton and, later, Leon Spinks.  

In 1998, after decades, Dundee reunited with Muhammad Ali and appeared alongside him in a sentimental Super Bowl commercial. The two men were friends until Dundee's death, and the veteran trainer would always refer to Ali as "my kid."  Dundee saw a future emerging star in Sugar Ray Leonard, whom he called "a smaller version of Ali."  In Leonard's first bout with Hearns, Dundee, thinking that his protégé was behind on the scorecards, quipped the now famous words, "You're blowing it, son! You're blowing it!" before the start of round 13. Leonard scored a fourteenth-round win when the referee stopped the fight.  

In 2005, Dundee was hired to train Russell Crowe for Crowe's characterization in Cinderella Man. To that end, Dundee traveled to Australia to work with the Oscar-winning actor and appeared in the film as "Angelo," the corner man. In November 2008, he was hired as a special consultant for Oscar De La Hoya's fight with Manny Pacquiao.  Angelo Dundee, internationally known for his work with 16 world boxing champions, died peacefully in his sleep at 90 on February 1, 2012, in Tampa, Florida. A funeral was held on 10 February 2012 at the Countryside Christian Center in Clearwater, Florida, attended by a crowd of several hundred mourners, including Muhammad Ali.  

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