Angelo Dundee passes away at 90

By Paul Strauss: Several of the articles written about Angelo's passing are titled "Muhammad Ali's Trainer Dies". There seems to be something not quite right about describing Angelo that way. He wouldn't have minded though, and in fact probably would have been flattered. He was a humble man, but he also knew how to handle the public and the media. Even in death he would know the answer to the question: "Who is a bigger media favorite than Ali?" No one.

Yet, it doesn't do Angelo Dundee (born Angelo Mirena August 30, 1921 - February 1, 2012) justice to be characterized as such. It implies that he was what he was because of Ali, when in fact he was a great trainer before and after Ali. Maybe Ali made Howard Cosell, but he didn't make Angelo. Rather, the reverse might be true. Not that Angelo was instrumental in forming Ali's persona, but he certainly put up with it, which enabled Clay/Ali to blossom and mature as a fighter. Not many trainers would have put up with Clay/Ali's antics.

Angelo seemed to have that unique quality or ability to read people. He could size them up, and then supply what was needed in the way of compliments, scolding or avoidance to help them along. The popular modern day concept of a good trainer seems to be more technical, someone who puts together a team..........a nutritionalist, dietician, and strength coach, plus a few others who serve who knows what purpose. Great trainers like Angelo and Gil Clancy, Cus D'Amato, Eddie Futch didn't have need of all those fineries. They built on a foundation that was hard work (road work, exercise and sparring with plenty of rest) and common sense (avoid smoking, alcohol, fats and starches). They knew that strategy was the key to go along with God given talent.

In 1950, he and his brother Chris opened and operated the famed 5th Street Gym in Miami. Angelo practiced the old adage about being true to one's self. He let his fighters' own particular styles blossom, not trying to force the perverbial round peg into the square hole. He sensed who his charges were and their makeup. He worked on their strengths and weaknesses, and studied opponents in the same way. Then he worked out a plan or strategy for victory. There wasn't anything particularly unique about that strategy, but it coupled with the many years of tutelage he received from people like Ray Arcel, Charlie Goldman, and Chickie Ferrera, and others carried him and many of his fighters to the top. In fact, he worked the corners of fifteen world champions.

Angleo is famous for some of boxing's most colorful moments: the torn glove incident in the Clay vs. Henry Cooper fight; telling Sugar Ray Leonard, "You're blowing it son" in the Hearn's fight; and pushing Clay out of the corner in the 1st fight against Liston for the championship. There are many more. However, equally important is the way Angelo handled himself. You would be faced with a daunting task if ordered to go back and review any written or filmed interview with Angelo to find an instance where he spoke badly of anyone, opponent or otherwise. The worst thing you might be able to come up with might be something like, "My guy will beat the other guy".

His boxing legacy is great. He's on top with the best and deservedly so. But, don't forget the quality of his humanity. He was a good man, and that's true no matter what your definition of a good man might be. He always handled himself with dignity and humility. Those who knew him would say the list of admirable traits and attributes he possessed is a long one, all of which helps sum up the life of a wonderful, successful man. In fact, you might even get "The Greatest" to agree he should be gratetful and honored to be associated with Anagelo, not just the other way around.

Article posted on 03.02.2012

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