Thursday, February 2, 2012

Boxing legend Angelo Dundee dies at 90

source: Santos A. Perez | The Miami Herald

Angelo Dundee, the Hall of Fame trainer who guided Muhammad Ali’s career, died of a heart attack Wednesday night in Clearwater. Dundee was 90.

Dundee had been admitted to a Clearwater-area hospital after suffering a blood clot following his return trip from Louisville to celebrate Ali’s 70th birthday two weeks ago, said his son, Jim Dundee. After spending a few days in the hospital, Dundee was transferred to a rehabilitation center, where he died.

“He was recuperating and coming along quite well,” his son said. “He was already making plans to take a trip to Las Vegas for another event in two weeks.

“Thankfully, the whole family was with him. We have lost a great man,” he said.

Dundee’s legendary training career spanned six decades. He worked with 16 world champions but most notably Ali, the iconic heavyweight champion, whom Dundee guided from his early 1960s fights through his first-title winning performance against Sonny Liston, the three epic fights with Joe Frazier, the knockout win over George Foreman and final career bout in 1981.


Dundee’s 40-year link of guiding champions stretched from Carmen Basilio in the 1950s, through Sugar Ray Leonard 1980s dominance and to Foreman’s title-winning performance at age 45 in 1995.

“My dad led a wonderful life,” Jim Dundee said. “Sadly, many of the great people from that generation are gone. This is the end of an era.”

Dundee fondly remembered his father’s special attribute of making friends.

“My dad had a very common saying, ‘it doesn’t cost nothing to be nice,’ ” his son said. “He didn’t just say it. He lived it.”

Dundee and his brother and promoter, Chris, made South Florida a boxing destination when Chris opened the 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach in the early 1950s. For the next 30 years, Chris promoted shows at the nearby Miami Beach Auditorium and Angelo trained many of the fighters who worked out at the Gym and fought in his brother’s cards.

In addition to Ali, other Dundee-trained fighters who trained at the 5th Street Gym and also became world champions included Luis Rodriguez and Willie Pastrano.

“Angelo was a mentor to me,” said South Florida-based promoter Ramiro Ortiz. “When we first started doing shows in the 1980s, he gave us tremendous advice and support.

“About a month ago we had a long talk and he kept saying, ‘Ramiro we had a lot of fun.’ Now that I look back it seemed as if that was his way of saying goodbye.”

Born Angelo Mirena in Philadelphia, he and Chris took the surname Dundee after his older brother, Johnny, used it to promote his own boxing career. Angelo moved to New York in the 1940s, where he began his training career and later settled in Miami Beach, where he joined Chris.


The Gym was torn down in the early 1990s but re-opened in the same location of Washington Avenue and 5th Street two years ago.

Dundee and Ali led the list of luminaries who attended the gym’s re-opening.

“Although he moved away, Miami was always in my dad’s heart,” Dundee said. “When he went back to the new gym you could tell how much he was touched by that.”

More than 10 years ago, Dundee and his wife, Helen, moved to Clearwater to be closer to Jim and their daughter Terri Dundee Coughlin. Helen Dundee died in 2010.

Although he retired from training fighters after he moved to Clearwater, Dundee remained involved in the sport and made repeated appearances at many boxing-related events.

Dundee was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992.

In addition to his son and daughter, Dundee is survived by six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Funeral services are pending.