Although boxing isn’t the first sport that comes to mind when thinking of Italy, this is the country where some of the top boxers in the world were born. Many other Italian-American boxers were born in New York. Numerous Italian boxers changed their names so they would not face discrimination and prejudice. Boxing is an immense part of Italian-American culture and it is virtually impossible for Italians to think of boxing without thinking of legends such as Rocky Marciano. Below are several of the many greatest Italian boxers of all time.
1. Rocky Marciano
Rocky Marciano was born September 1, 1923 in Brockton Massachusetts. The best years of Marciano’s career were between 1952 and 1956. During this period, he was the World Heavyweight Champion. Throughout his entire career, he did not face a defeat or bout tie while holding the heavyweight title and he is the only boxer able to claim this. For this reason, he is widely considered the best Italian boxer of all time.
2. Joe Calzaghe
Joe Calzaghe was born March 23, 1972 in London to an Italian father and a Welsh mother. He is often referred to as “The Italian Dragon”. Calzaghe is a professional boxer who competed from 1993 to 2008. He is notable for being the longest-reigning super-middleweight world champion. He held the WBO title for more than 10 years!
3. Jake LaMotta
Jake LaMotta was born July 10, 1922 on the Lower East Side of New York City. He is also known as “The Raging Bull”. Jake LaMotta was a world middleweight champion! In 1980, he played the character of Robert De Niro in the film Raging Bull. One of his most famous victories was against Sugar Ray Robinson. LaMotta was known to have a thick skull, making him an ideal and incredible boxer.
4. Arturo Gatti
Arturo Gatti was born April 15 1972 in Cassino in Italy, but was raised in Montreal, Canada. His nickname is Arturo ‘Thunder’ Gatti. He has been the world champion in two different classes and in championships by two different boxing boards.
5. Joey Giardello
Carmine Orlando Tilelli, better known as Joey Giardello, was born in Brooklyn New York in July of 1930. Boxing was very common for young Italian men in New York during his time. In 1948, at the age of 18, Giardello began boxing professionally. He was the world middleweight champion from 1963- 1965.
6. Rocky Graziano
Thomas Rocco Barbella also known as Rocky Graziano was born on January 1, 1919 in Brooklyn, New York. He help the title of World Middleweight and was most noted for his capability to take his poonent out with a single punch! The film Somebody Up There Likes Me is an Oscar Winning movie that was based upon his life story.
7. Raymond Michael Mancini
Raymond Michael Mancini also known as “Ray Boom Boom Mancini” is the son of Lenny “Boom Boom” Mancini. Boxing was always an extremely large part of his life because of his father who was also a boxer. Mancini was born on March 4, 1961 in Youngstown Ohio. He is noted for holding the WBA lightweight title from 1982-1984. He was also inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
8. Young Corbett III
Corbett was born in Italy in 1905 but grew up in America. In 1933, he became the world Welterweight boxing champion and progressed to the Middleweight champion in 1938. He is known for his speed rather than the power of his punches. He died in 1993.
9. Primo Carnera
Primo Canera was born in Sequals in Italy in 1906. He is one of the best-known Italian boxers as he was the World Heavyweight Champion from 1933 to 1934. His nickname was the Ambling Alp. In his career, he had 88 wins out of 103 fights.
10. Willie Pep
Guglielmo Papaleo better known as Willie Pep, was born September 19, 1922 in Connecticut. He was loved for his speed and skillfulness. He is most noted for holding the World Featherweight Champion between 1947 and 1950. He boxed nealy 2,000 rounds throughout his career. His final record was 229–11–1 with 65 knockouts.
11. Tony Canzoneri
Tony Canzoneri was born on November 6th, 1908 and grew up in Staten Island, New York. Canzoneri became a three-time world champion in 1931 when he knocked Jack Berg out during the third round.
12. Johnny Dunde
Giuseppe Curreri, also known as Johnny “Scotch Wop” Dundee was born on November 19, 1893. Although Dundee was born in Sicily , he was raised in America. He was a featherweight and junior lightweight champion. Some of his many strengths included his great footwork, and ability to fight off the ropes. He is most noted for becoming the first well known junior lightweight champion in the world.
13. Carmen Basilio
Carmen Basilio was born on April 2, 1927 in Canastota, NY. He was a world welterweight and middleweight champion. He decided to become a professional boxer in 1948 after serving in the Marines. His final record was 56 wins and 16 losses. 17 of his wins were solely by knockout. In 1990, Carmen Basilio was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
14. Nino Benvenuti
Giovanni ‘Nino’ Benvenuti is considered the best Italian boxer ever by many sports critics even though he only boxed as an amateur. He had only one loss compared to his 120 wins. He won the gold medal for the Welterweight’s division at the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960. At the same competition, he was also awarded the Val Baker trophy which is given to the best boxer of the Olympic Games each year.