Angelo Dundee’s real name is Angelo Merena. He was born on
August 30, 1921 in Philadelphia, PA. He learned the intricacies of the
boxing science while watching the great trainers at Stillman's Gym in New
York in the late-1940s. The first world champion he worked with was
Hall-of-Famer Carmen Basilio, who held the welterweight and middleweight
crowns. Dundee, along with his brother Chris, a Hall of Fame promoter,
eventually moved to Miami Beach and he was the chief trainer at the world-renowned
Fifth Street Gym.
While in Miami, Dundee's career thrived. In 1960, Dundee was hired to train
Muhammad Ali and he remained in Ali's corner until his fight with Larry
Holmes. Dundee, a quick thinker and master motivator in the corner, helped
Ali get through some of his toughest fights.
“Any fighter that didn't like Ali should have his head examined, because Ali
did so much for boxing”, Dundee once said. Angelo Dundee’s name has always
been intertwined with that of Muhammad Ali. After a 21-year partnership
which impacted the far reaches of the world, both names will forever be
In 1976, Dundee was asked to help shape the career of Sugar Ray Leonard.
Again, Dundee was a genius in building a boxing legend and hall-of-famer.
Few boxing fans could ever forget his "You’re blowing it, son" talk to
Leonard just before he knocked out Thomas Hearns to unify the welterweight
crown. Dundee had such a great respect for Ray Leonard. After Muhammad Ali,
the sport of boxing had a void. Ray Leonard was a little welterweight who
took up that void. There came a little welterweight that picked it up
because everybody needed that. Boxing needs a star at the forefront for the
public to stay interested. And if you lose that, you're in deep trouble.
Boxing should not be quiet - the worst thing in the profession is silence.
You've got to have some noise; you have to let people get excited. We don't
have that right now. Ray Leonard handled it all by himself back then.
In addition to Ali and Sugar Ray, Dundee has trained champions Jimmy Ellis,
Luis Rodriguez, Sugar Ramos, Ralph Dupas, Willie Pastrano, and George
Foreman. Actually one of Dundee’s great feats was when he was in Foreman’s
corner as he knocked out Michael Moorer to win the heavyweight title.
The Boxing Writers Association of America named Dundee its Manager of the
Year in 1968 and 1979. He was also awarded the organization’s Long and
Meritorious Service Award in 1996.
Angelo was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994
Trainer of Champions
Angelo Dundee was real tough when he had to be. He
persuaded Muhammad Ali back into the ring when Ali wanted to quit the first
time he beat Sonny Liston. He also ''loaned'' hundreds of thousands of un-repaid
dollars to 16 world champions. Dundee has variously served as trainer/manager,
forgiving father and compassionate brother. Over his amazing career, this
long-time Weston resident is not only known as the calculating figure in the
opposite corner, but he truly is a trainer with kindness and extraordinary
Howard Cosell once said about Dundee: “He is the only man in boxing to whom
I would entrust my own son.''
He studied and admired classic trainers: Lou Duva, Emanuel Steward, Gil
Clancy, Freddie Brown, Whitey Bimstein. But he was always an original who
never slavishly followed their lead. He brought character to this very cruel
sport. Dundee took so many fighters to so many places; every continent was
his second home.
He taught knockout punches as a perfect set of moves like in “slide right,
stick, stick, slide right, bang! Drop the right hand over, make an angle”
etc. Some of the famous punching combinations used by Muhammad or Sugar Ray
were his inventions. He always said that certain things you teach to some
athletes, you can also implement on other guys. But he did not want to make
a fighter be like a clone of another fighter because it just couldn't happen.
Each fighter’s reflexes would be different, the balance would be different,
the approach would be different, the height would be different. So much goes
into play in the science of boxing. Dundee helped make it a complete study.
The whole process of creating a champ always thrilled Angelo Dundee - all
the phases of that process: finding the right fighter and helping him
develop his skills etc. Most of his fighters started as young talented boys
that turned into mature, powerful champions under his guidance.
Angelo Dundee was one of those that helped boxing become the king of
fighting sports. Trainers of mixed martial arts fighters and kickboxers have a lot to learn
by studying the life and teachings of Angelo Dundee. He taught his champions
how to use their minds before they used their fists. His 24 hour a day
dedication to his fighters is what helped create such superior athletes and
true champions. I am afraid that today’s trainers (unlike Dundee) stress the
importance of using steroids and being tough more than that of using
strategy, proper technique, and building character.