Carmine Fatta: Fighting Fury

By Clarence George on December 13, 2015
Carmine Fatta: Fighting Fury
Carmine Fatta’s motto was, "Keep your right hand high and your ass off the canvas."

Given his 95 fights over what really amounted to only six years (an average of 16 bouts a year), it’s no surprise Fatta took on all comers…

“It is nice to know they remember me.”—Carmine Fatta

Born Louis J. Muratore on March 31, 1919, on Manhattan’s tough Lower East Side, the equally tough Carmine Fatta fought out of Brooklyn from 1939 to 1947 (though out of the ring in ‘45 and only fighting once in ‘46), winding up with a record of 69 wins, 30 by knockout, 19 losses, eight by knockout, and seven draws.

Managed at one time by Lew Jenkins’ fiery wife, Katie, the lightweight eventually came under the more experienced control of Lew Burston, manager of such luminaries as Panama Al Brown, Sal Bartolo, Charley Burley, Al Bummy Davis, Pedro Montanez, Marcel Thil, Dick Tiger, and Randy Turpin.

“Sugar Ray had Paris in his legs,” Burston observed after Turpin outpointed Robinson, relieving him of his middleweight title, at Earls Court Arena in London on July 10, 1951, in reference to the Sugarman having lived the sweet life in France prior to the bout. Replacing that sugar with spice, Robinson won back the title in their rematch, stopping Turpin by 10th-round TKO at the Polo Grounds in New York that September 12.

And there was the time Lew got slugged by Bummy when he unwisely sought to restrain him from killing Fritzie Zivic. But that, too, is another story.

Given his 95 fights over what really amounted to only six years (an average of 16 bouts a year), it’s no surprise Fatta took on all comers, drawing against Maxie Shapiro (who beat Sal Bartolo, Phil Terranova, and Bob Montgomery) at New York’s Hippodrome on March 10, 1939, outpointing Chester Rico at Coney Island’s Velodrome on July 31 that year, and doing the same to never-stopped Solly Gerstler at Madison Square Garden that December 1 and to Lew Feldman (who once beat Lew Jenkins) at the Velodrome on July 5, 1940, as well as knocking out Lefty LaChance (another one who beat Terranova) in the fourth at Laurel Garden in Newark on December 1, 1941. In 1942, Fatta twice faced Jerry Moore—who fought Tippy Larkin, Ike Williams (twice), Willie Joyce, Sheik Rangel (twice), Freddie Dixon, and Juan Zurita—drawing against him at the Valley Arena in Holyoke, Massachusetts, on March 2 and beating him by unanimous decision at the same venue just 21 days later. That May 25, he stopped power-punching Tommy Jessup by second-round TKO at the same arena.

Outpointed by never-stopped Billy Davis at the Garden on November 21, 1941, he suffered a similar fate at the hands of Tippy Larkin at Laurel Garden that December 22, Fatta threatening to quit the fight after being slapped in the face by his second, Fred Amorsa, who was indefinitely suspended for “conduct unbecoming a second.” After losing a second time to Davis, this time by unanimous decision at the Valley Arena on February 2, 1942, he lost to Cleo Shans by unanimous decision at the same arena on April 20 that year before again losing to Larkin, outpointed at Brooklyn’s MacArthur Stadium that June 9.

Carmine knocked out Joe Echevarria in the second at the same venue on June 23 that year before avenging himself against Shans, winning by split decision at the Valley Arena that August 3. Fifteen days later, Beau Jack knocked him out in the first at MacArthur Stadium. Though he only drew against Bobby Ruffin on September 22 that year, in the final main event ever to take place at the New York Coliseum in the Bronx, he outpointed cement-chinned Richie Lemos at Brooklyn’s Broadway Arena that October 13, losing to him on points at the Garden that November 6.

Meeting tough Johnny Hutchinson at Philly’s Convention Hall on January 4, 1943, Fatta got stopped by fifth-round TKO. He suffered a similar fate in his bout with Sal Bartolo 18 days later at the Arena in Boston, this time by second-round TKO. In his rubber match with Shans, at the Coliseum in Baltimore on November 27, 1944, Fatta got stopped by third-round TKO. He also fought Cleo’s brother, Jimmy, outpointing him at MacArthur Stadium on July 21, 1942.

However game, he proved no match for Enrique Bolanos, (who three times challenged Ike Williams for the Lightweight Championship of the World), the “Durango Dropper” dropping him four times in the first, winning by TKO at Los Angeles’ Olympic Auditorium on January 29, 1946, in what proved to be Fatta’s only bout that year and his first since December 19, 1944, when he was outpointed by Dom Amoroso at Jersey City Gardens. Following the Bolanos loss, he wouldn’t fight again until January 14, 1947, outpointing Eddie White at the Park Arena in the Bronx.

It was at that same venue, that March 25, that Fatta scored his last win, outpointing Oscar Lewis. He quit the ring following back-to-back losses, first to Jimmy Warren, who won by second-round TKO at Brooklyn’s Broadway Arena on April 8 that year, then to Bill Eddy, who stopped him by third-round TKO at the I.M.A. Auditorium in Flint, Michigan, that May 9.

“I thought the time had come for me to hang up the gloves after those two knockouts that came in the second and third rounds,” said Fatta. “When the canvas starts coming up and hitting you, the time has come to retire.”

Tami Mauriello may have been Frank Sinatra’s favorite fighter, but Fatta was a close second and was equally popular with Joe DiMaggio, Phil Silvers, and Jackie Coogan, among other celebrities.

And not just with the rich and famous. Over the weekend of September 18-20, 1987, Fatta and one-time nemeses Tippy Larkin and Sal Bartolo were honored by the International Veteran Boxers Association at the Friar Tuck Inn in the Catskills. In addition, Fatta, “135 pounds of fighting fury,” was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame on November 15, 1991.

A longtime resident of Newburgh, New York, Carmine Fatta, whose motto was, “Keep your right hand high and your ass off the canvas,” died May 25, 2008, age 89, and is buried at Calvary Cemetery in New Windsor, New York, as is his wife of 65 years, Fannie Muratore, who died this July 13, age 92.

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  1. Clarence George 03:00am, 12/17/2015

    Thanks very much indeed, Mike.  Yes, so many.  So very many.

  2. Mike Silver 09:08pm, 12/16/2015

    It warmed my heart to see this article about Carmine Fatta. So many competent, tough pros of that era deserve recognition. Thank you CG.
    Mike Casey, was Angelo was serious when he made that statement about Fatta beating Ray Leonard? That might have been around the time when Leonard reduced his salary for a big fight and Angelo was justifiably pissed. Then again, Angelo might have truly meant it because he saw them both fight and knew their strengths and weaknesses. I’ll say one thing: I don’t know what Leonard’s record would have been had he averaged 16 fight a year!

  3. Clarence George 07:01pm, 12/16/2015

    Never too late to hear from you, Walter, and thank you.  As a reward, I have a story for you.  I was crossing the street this evening when I felt myself pulled in the opposite direction.  Next thing I know, I find myself in a sort of embrace with two comely wenches.  What happened is that one of them was carrying her dry cleaning and a hanger had hooked me at the wrist.  One of them said, “That’s one way of hooking a man.”  We laughed and went our separate ways.  That’s kind of a disappointing ending, granted, but I’m not as young as I used to be.

  4. Walter Wojtowicz 06:16pm, 12/16/2015

    Once again comrade I am late to the party in order to be the first to compliment you on a great piece of writing and history. Thanks, really enjoyed it.  Good to hear Carmine walked away as the canvas was arising..  In any event, I have video of the great Tommy Burke hitting the bag at the Marshfield Y.  Am sending you a copy.  He’s a cross between Tony Galento and John Belushi.  You have been warned.  Pressing Onward!

  5. Clarence George 01:07pm, 12/15/2015

    Advertised, I assume, in “The Ring.”  Or maybe “True Detective,” a favorite of mine when I was but a lad.  I don’t think I remember a cover that didn’t feature a beauty both bound and scantily clad.  Never had anything to do with the contents, but no matter.

  6. Mike Casey 11:24am, 12/15/2015

    One of my favourites was the guy who charged a small fortune for his sure-fire method of getting rid of mice. Takers were sent simple typewritten instructions along the following lines:
    1 Place lump of cheese in a prominent place
    2 Wait until mouse comes along
    3 Hit mouse over head with a big hammer

  7. Clarence George 09:47am, 12/15/2015

    Mild, Eric, in comparison to those who pay a fortune for Piero Manzoni’s canned excrement.  If that ain’t a sign of a civilization on the verge of extinction, I don’t know what is.

  8. Eric 09:38am, 12/15/2015

    I read a story were some moron paid for a jar supposedly filled with Brangelina breath/air. hehe. Can’t remember how much the idiot paid, but anything over .02 cents would be too much.

  9. Clarence George 08:18am, 12/15/2015

    You’re quite right, Mike, which reminds me of Lotto’s current ad campaign, called, “You’d Make a Way Better Rich Person.”  For example:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DkTLZlWWgw

  10. Mike Casey 08:09am, 12/15/2015

    I bet more than a few suckers pay the 899 bucks just because they can. Ernie Bilko wouldn’t believe the amount of fruit on the trees if he was still around.

  11. Clarence George 07:05am, 12/15/2015

    Incidentally, the accompanying photo reminds me that an online dealer is offering one for $899.10 (down from $999), a “Limited-Time-Only” price. Nothing short of insane.  Another dealer is offering two, one for $85, but even that’s too much, and the other for $65, which is still a bit high.  A fair and reasonable price, IMO, is $45.

  12. Clarence George 07:26pm, 12/14/2015

    Makes my day when you visit, Laurena, and thank you for your very kind words and great post.

  13. Laurena 06:28pm, 12/14/2015

    Always a pleasure to read your work and stroll down memory lane in my home town. And I very much agree with Jim Crue’s comment about reminding us, well, maybe not “us,” but “them,” that there was a time when the best consistently fought the best. Thank you for your beautiful writing.

  14. Clarence George 02:43pm, 12/14/2015

    Very glad you liked it, Beaujack, and thank you for another terrific post.  Tippy Larkin is outrageously forgotten today, as is the never-stopped Willie Joyce.  It’s an honor, and a real pleasure, to write articles where they’re at least mentioned.

  15. beaujack 02:21pm, 12/14/2015

    Clarence, your great article on Carmine Fatta brings back another great memory trip for me…Growing up in the 1940s my dad and I would see Carmine Fatta on many a card in the various fight clubs in NYC area.
    Those days the fighters fought so often because of the tremendous amount of pro boxers plying their trade.In the Metropolitan area of NYC, there was at least one boxing card every night of the week sans Sunday. And Carmine
    Fatta fought in many of them. One of the names you bring up was Tippy Larkin as fine a boxer as a lightweight since the halcyon days of Benny Leonard.
    Tippy had a glass chin but was almost impossible to decision, outclassing Billy Graham of all people and the great lightweight Willie Joyce three times Keep em a cumin Clarence .

  16. Clarence George 10:10am, 12/14/2015

    Glad you like these, Chuck (the feeling is mutual), and I appreciate the info.  Whatever Fatta’s time in the military, it clearly didn’t interfere with his ring career, as he fought extensively throughout the war (except for 1945).  He couldn’t have been sent overseas, which is kinda surprising, as he was only 22 when the war started.  That said, my father spent the entire Korean War at Fort Dix (mainly enjoying vanilla milkshakes at the PX), despite being a terrific shot.

  17. c.h. 09:39am, 12/14/2015

    Clarence, i don’t know if Fatta entered the Army in 1940 (per Nj.bhof) but I copied a picture of him from RING mag, in fighting pose around 1945, thats states he is returning to the ring after serving in the army. RING once stated that more boxers served during WW 2 than any other sport…Please keep these stories coming.

  18. Clarence George 08:45am, 12/14/2015

    This may interest you in particular, Irish:  We all know about Sinatra (whose 100th birthday was on the 12th) and DiMaggio, but did you know that Silvers was married to Miss America 1942, Jo-Carroll Dennison, while Coogan was married to Betty Grable?  Hope for the rest of us, I calls it.

  19. Clarence George 08:23am, 12/14/2015

    Thanks very much indeed, Jim.  Fatta was emblematic of his era—not quite top-tier, but tough and able, as well as fan-friendly and extremely active.  At the very least, I’m sure Leonard would have found him a handful.

    Very pleased you liked it, Irish.  Yeah, I love that “conduct unbecoming a second.”  Was his sabre broken, like they did to Jason McCord (Chuck Connors) in “Branded”?  A safe bet on Fatta’s post-boxing life, I’m sure, though I came across few specifics.  Yeah, hard-pressed to find someone more revolting than Father Miqueli.  What a disgrace.

    Thanks, Chuck.  As I said in my reply to Irish, not a whole lot of non-boxing info available, including on his military service.  No disrespect to the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame, but I ignore much of what they have to say, as I usually find them to be factually unreliable.

  20. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:07am, 12/14/2015

    BTW I’m flying in to JFK to have my Christmas confession heard by Father Miguelli…it’s been 65 years since my last confession and I’m thinking he’s the priest I need to lay some easy penance on me.

  21. c.h. 07:20am, 12/14/2015

    Thanks Clarence, good stuff, as always. Of course, Carmine had some prime career years interupted, like thousands of others, serving (army) during WW2.

  22. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 06:12am, 12/14/2015

    Clarence George-This write up is just my cup of tea! “Conduct unbecoming a second”....only a couple of weeks after Pearl Harbor and the commission was already on a war footing. Looks like he got out at age 27….his sweetheart of 65 years was probably a big influence there. I’m betting he had a long life after boxing as a working stiff/family man

  23. Jim Crue 06:10am, 12/14/2015

    Another excellent piece Clarence. 
    Anf I think Angelo was not kidding. The depth of fighters in every division during the so called golden age of boxing was enormous. Thanks for reminding the readers of this site that there actually were fighter who fought the best time and time again.

  24. Clarence George 03:33am, 12/14/2015

    Always delighted when you drop by, Mike, and love the Dundee anecdote, which I’d never heard.

  25. Mike Casey 03:05am, 12/14/2015

    Ah, so glad you wrote one on Carmine Fatta, Clarence. He was indeed a huge favourite with many people and always a dangerous customer. A good pal of mine, who might well be dropping his thoughts on this thread, told me some time ago that when Angelo Dundee was asked his true opinion of Sugar Ray Leonard in an unguarded moment, he replied: “Carmine Fatta would have flattened him.” Did Angelo have his tongue in his cheek when he said that?

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