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International Boxing Hall of Fame   1 Hall of Fame Drive   Canastota, NY 13032  P: 315.697.7095 F: 315.697.5356

    CANASTOTA, NY - NOVEMBER 7, 2012 - The International Boxing Hall of Fame announced its flags will fly at half-staff in memory of Canastota’s welterweight and middleweight boxing champion Carmen Basilio. He passed away this morning at Rochester General Hospital in Rochester, NY at the age of 85.

“Carmen put Canastota on the worldwide boxing map and gave the village’s residents a sense of pride that couldn’t be matched anywhere in the world,” said Hall of Fame Executive Director Edward Brophy.  “During the 1950s and 1960s Carmen was everyone’s hero. They talked about him in the coffee shops, grocery stores, gas stations and barbershops all the time. And they still talk about him today. He was loved, respected and idolized. His career and memories will last forever in the Village of Canastota.”

Basilio, nicknamed  “The Upstate Onion Farmer,” was born in Canastota, NY on April 2, 1927. He twice won the world welterweight title, first from Tony DeMarco in 1955 and then from Johnny Saxton in 1956 before defeating Sugar Ray Robinson for the world middleweight championship in 1957. With an aggressive, charging style and a powerful left hook, Basilio scored wins over Lew Jenkins, Ike Williams, Billy Graham, Gil Turner, Art Aragon, Gasper Ortega and Don Jordan among others during his career. He incredibly engaged in five consecutive fights of the year: 1955 (vs DeMarco), 1956 (vs. Saxton), 1957 (vs. Robinson), 1958 (vs. Robinson) and 1959 (vs. Fullmer). His pro record reads 56-16-7 (27 KOs). 

Mike Milmoe, board member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the editor and publisher of the Canastota Bee Journal newspaper during Carmen’s fighting days, said, “Carmen was the best known and most famous native son in community history. He gave credibility to the Boxing Hall of Fame in its formative years with his participation and support. When he received the Hickok Award as Pro Athlete of the Year in 1957 after defeating Sugar Ray Robinson for the middleweight championship, he brought worldwide recognition to this community. Wherever he lived or visited his heart was always in Canastota. He was a wonderful individual and our best community ambassador.”

In 1990, Basilio was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.


Below please find photos celebrating the life of Basilio - Please click on a thumbnail to view larger.

1990 Hall of Fame Inductee Carmen Basilio
Basilio at his Hall of Fame Induction in 1990Welcome banner helps village honor new world champion upon return homeBasilio squares off against his nephew & fellow champion Billy BackusBasilio proudly displays The Ring championship belt with publicist Murray Goodman by his sideIn action during his championship careerCarmen (left) poses head to head with his younger brother & fellow fighter Jo Jo BasilioSurrounded by world champions including James J. Braddock, Gus Lesnevich & Paul BerlenbachBasilio never received his high school diploma as a teenager due to military service during WWII. He was presented with his Canastota diploma in 2009.Raised in victory by Angelo Dundee  (left) and Johnny DeJohn (right)Sharing a laugh with ring rival & fellow Hall of Famer Gene FullmerAccepting Hickok Award as 1957's "Pro Athlete Of The Year."Jumping rope in preparation for a fightWith New York Yankee superstar Mickey Mantle in the 1950sWith Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Bert Sugar and Sugar Ray LeonardBack in the MSG ring where he fought four times during his careerPosing with his team - Joe Netro (left) and Johnny DeJohn (right)The Upstate Onion Farmer, Basilio poses in the famous Canastota "muck lands" he worked as a youthBetween his parents - Joe and Mary - while training for a fightCelebrating the 40th Anniversary (1997) of his middleweight title win over Sugar Ray RobinsonSugar Ray Robinson looks on as Basilio weighs in prior to their bout1957's "Fight Of The Year" against Sugar Ray Robinson at Yankee StadiumBasilio connects with a right hand against Johnny Saxton in 1956's "Fight Of The Year"Basilio prepares for a fight by hitting the speed bagBasilio was proud to serve in the U.S. MarinesTwo legends meet - Basilio and Ted Williams in the 1950sMarker designating Basilio's birthplace on Main Street in Canastota, NYAlways gracious, Basilio signs an autograph for one of his fansBasilio and his nephew Billy Backus together in CanastotaWith Hall of Fame trainer Angelo Dundee after a boutWith two-division champion Ricky "Hitman" HattonWorking the heavy bag in advance of a fightBasilio in front of his childhood home & birthplace with his brother Paulie and wife Josie in Spring 2012Waving to fans during the Parade of ChampionsHard at work on the speed bagBasilio welcomes Mike Tyson to his hometown in 2011.