Remembering Tony Alongi

By Ted Sares on November 16, 2015
Remembering Tony Alongi
Tony Alongi had back-to-back draws with highly-rated and undefeated Jerry Quarry.

When he passed away at the relatively young age of 64, his professional boxing career was not mentioned in his Miami Herald obituary…

“My Tony Alongi will be heavyweight champion within two years.”—Rocky Marciano

“Somehow, Tony Alongi, one of the better heavyweights of that era, is almost forgotten today. But, he was the most exciting fighter and number 1 drawing card for promoter Chris Dundee, in Miami. He was…often showcased and [was] featured in the sports sections of newspapers all over the country.”—Steve Canton

Boxing was a mainstream and exciting sport in the early 1960s—a carryover from the great post-war ‘50s going into the Golden Age of the ‘70s. Unlike today, the best fought the best and the well-schooled heavyweights were especially outstanding and active. This well-stocked division included Cassius Clay (who later would become Muhammad Ali), Joe Frazier, Floyd Patterson, Sonny Liston, Jimmy Ellis, Cleveland Williams, Henry Cooper, Eddie Machen, George Chuvalo,  Ingemar Johansson, Zora Folley, Jerry Quarry, Leotis Martin, Ernie Terrell, Oscar Bonavena Doug Jones, Karl Mildenberger, and others too numerous to list here. And also unlike today, 6-feet-5-inches was considered unusually tall. See: http://heavyweightaction.com/Decade%201960s.html

Tony Alongi

Tony Alongi, who sparred with Cassius Clay at the legendary 5th Street Gym in Miami in 1960, fought during this era; he was one of the better heavyweights who roamed the boxing landscape and his accomplishments warrant a distinct place in boxing’s memory bank.

Often called the “Elongated Beanpole” and/or the “Florida Superstar,” Tony stood over 6-feet-5-inches. He had retired from amateur boxing with an undefeated record of 27-0 and several New Jersey titles including the New Jersey Golden Glove Title in 1957. Moving to the pros, he became a highly regarded and highly touted heavyweight who fought from 1959 to 1967. Alongi hailed from North Jersey but later moved to and fought out of the Miami, Florida area where he was a big fan favorite at the Auditorium in Miami Beach (though he fought in many other locales and venues) and seemed destined to be a World Heavyweight Champion by the end of 1963.

Marciano’s Protégé

In a dream-come-true setting, Alongi was guided by legendary trainer Charley Goldman who, of course, had trained Alongi’s long-time idol Rocky Marciano. Alongi became a protégé of Marciano and was well known and appreciated by serious boxing fans. He was a classic stand-up boxer-puncher and he coupled that with outstanding footwork. Using his long reach, he also had a snapping “lightning bolt” left jab. He was once described as being “a smart and tricky fighter and, besides a good left jab, he knows how to use rough-house tactics, as he is well-schooled and ring-smart.”

Tony won his first 28 fights and graced the covers of several boxing magazines including the February 1961 Boxing Illustrated. Coming off a November 1961 victory over ranked heavyweight George “Idaho Gladiator” Logan, Tony became ranked and was poised to soar to the heights.

First Defeat

However, it was not to be as disaster struck. He was stopped on a closed eye near the end of the last round in his 10-round bout with Argentinean Rodolfo Luciano Diaz (15-5-1). Tony was well ahead on points at the time and only needed to hang on for a few more seconds. Many of his supporters blamed the eye injury on a head-butt. All hell broke loose, as Alongi complained at the quick stoppage, and argued that he was not hurt and could continue. Whatever the case, the defeat ended his dream of remaining undefeated and also seemed to defuse the spark that had torqued his career to that high point.

’[It was] completely ridiculous. Tony was so far ahead on the scorecards [against Rodolfo Luciano Diaz] there was no way he could lose. The guy head-butted him the 7th round, and the referee missed it. He lets it go until there are 26 seconds left, and then says he was worried Tony could get hurt. Completely ridiculous.”—Charley Goodman, Alongi’s manager

“I was in complete control and won every round until he head-butted me. Still, I was so far ahead in points, and he never hurt me. I couldn’t see for 3 rounds, then the referee stops it with 26 seconds left. Sure, he’s worried about my health.”—Alongi

Two fights (and wins) later, Tony was upset and stopped by the talented and equally tall Billy “The Barber” Daniels at the Sunnyside Gardens in Queens, New York. The Barber was coming off a stoppage of top 10 heavyweight contender Mike DeJohn (43-10-1 at the time) and had given Cassius Clay all he could handle. The setback appeared to end any hope Tony had of becoming a champion.

The Comeback: Chuvalo and Quarry

Dejected, Alongi took five months off indicating twice that he would retire, but then he launched a surprisingly successful comeback going undefeated in his final 15 outings. Included in this streak (between June 1963 and February 1967) was a draw with rugged George Chuvalo. Many, including me, think he had beaten the Canadian. The Associated Press had Alongi a 96-94 winner.

Tony then had back-to-back draws with highly-rated and undefeated Jerry Quarry. These fights (one at Madison Square Garden in New York City and one at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles) were billed as a match-up of a ‘West Coast Young Prospect’ versus an ‘East Coast Older Prospect’ and a puncher with a ‘powerful’ left-hook vs. a boxer with a ‘whip-like’ left jab. Most observers thought that Tony had schooled Jerry during the first bout. In fact, the scores were 5-5, 5-5, and 7-3 (Alongi).

Alongi would have a third straight draw in 1966 when he and the well-traveled Bill McMurray were badly cut and referee Luis Gonzales was forced to call it a technical draw after three rounds as both had been butted.

Tony had his final two fights in 1967 beating Chuck Leslie and knocking out Charlie Hall in two rounds.

Retirement

And then at age 27, Tony suddenly announced his retirement citing damage in his right eye after which he lived out his days in a quiet and normal life in South Florida. Reportedly, when he passed away at the relatively young age of 64 on November 27, 2003, his professional boxing career was not mentioned in his Miami Herald obituary.

When Tony Alongi was right, he could give anybody big trouble. Indeed, his record could well have been 43-1-2, but as it was, it still was an eyebrow-raising 40-2-4. He was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame in 1996 and posthumously into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame in 2014.

In the end Tony was never bitter and was heard to say, “Everything worked out for the best. It just wasn’t meant to be. I might have become rich and famous and not realized how nice it would be to have a wife and family. I wouldn’t trade my family for all the championships in the world.”

Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and holds several world and North American records. He enjoys writing about boxing.

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George Chuvalo - Tony Alongi



Jerry Quarry vs. Tony Alongi I, 1966, Draw 10.



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  1. Ted 07:44am, 01/29/2016

    Thank you

  2. RENEE CRUDO 07:35pm, 01/28/2016

    GREAT ARTICLE ON TONY,..  HE ACTUALLY BECAME INTERESTED IN BOXING, AS A YOUNG BOY,  THROUGH THE HOLLYWOODAND POLICE PAL PROGRAM.,  HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA.  MY FATHER, CAPTAIN SANDELIER, ALSO A BOXER IN HIS YOUTH, MENTORED TONY, AND INTRODUCED TONY TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO FURTHER HIS CAREER. HE WAS A GOOD FRIEND OF TONY’S, AND WAS SO PROUD OF TONY’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS.  HE IS MISSED

  3. KB 06:45pm, 11/21/2015

    Thank you Tex. I appreciate that

  4. Tex Hassler 06:40pm, 11/21/2015

    I am one who remembers Tony. He was a very gifted fighter and like others got some bad breaks.  Great article.

  5. KB 08:29am, 11/18/2015

    Thanks much Mike. I sometimes read posts made by his daughter and based on them I suspect he kept most of his memorabilia. The amazing stat to me is his three consecutive draws. He was one very talented heavyweight that few, except historians like Steve Canton and yourself, ever heard about. 

    I don’t do much historical stuff but I enjoyed doing this one berceuses I remembered, albeit vaguely, watching him once on TV..

  6. Mike Casey 08:19am, 11/18/2015

    Too bad that Tony was forced into retirement, Ted.. He wasn’t sensational but obviously a tough man to beat who compiled a very respectable record. As you know, he made the cover of Boxing Illustrated, so I hope he kept a copy!

  7. KB 06:52am, 11/17/2015

    Here is an interesting email that my friend, former MSU boxing star, and pro referee Herbie Weiss received from his brother and former boxer Walter Weiss aka Wally Sonny Weiss

    “Herb:

    “In 1961 (?), I accompanied the late Las Vegas fight promoter, Mel Greb, to the airport to pick up Tony Alongi, his manager, Chuck Seriani, Charley Goldman and Rocky Marciano, for his fight here in Las Vegas with Jefferson Davis.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  We went directly to the late Ash Resnick’s home located on the Stardust Country Club, just a few blocks from my present home.  Alongi was a quiet and pleasant young man.  Seriani was a very successful developer in Florida and insisted on a separate suite for himself and away from Rocky, Goldman and Alongi.  Resnick made the arrangements, I forget in what hotel.  The reason it stands out in my mind is because we were all in the kitchen and I had to use the restroom, located on the other side of the home.  As I walked from the kitchen to the restroom, I passed through the living room and saw Ash’s infant daughter face down in the swimming pool.

    “I immediately yelled to Ash and we pulled her out of the pool and resuscitated her.  His daughter, Dana Gentry, is a television station executive here.  I mentioned this story to her several years ago.  She is currently doing a book on Ash’s life, who was a great basketball player with NYU and the original Celtics.  He was a major bookmaker here and left the East coast to avoid prosecution for college basketball fixes.  He was the first person I looked up when I came here in 1958.  Ash was a huge favorite at Grossinger’s during Rocky’s years there in the 1950’s.  We were quite friendly.  Ash died of Leukemia some 10 years ago. 

    ” Speak with you soon.
    WW”


    Boxing is a very small world.

  8. KB 02:52pm, 11/16/2015

    Yes FD and note Tony’s footwork and jab. Like I said, he was well-schooled by Charlie Goldman. He also could roughhouse with the best of them if need be. A very underrated fighter and not given much ink by historians except Steve Canton. That’s why I decided to get this one into the archives for posterity. Tony deserves it..

  9. FrankinDallas 02:33pm, 11/16/2015

    Wow…Quarry looks like a baby in that video. Could have been
    played in a movie by a young Val Kilmer who is not, unfortunately,
    a super HW.

  10. KB 02:03pm, 11/16/2015

    Thank you for your posts. I rarely do quasi-historical articles but when I do, I only do ones that I can remember when they occurred or ones that I saw live. Tony vs. Chuvalo was on TV. Age has that advantage.

  11. Big Wally 01:05pm, 11/16/2015

    Nice tribute to someone I never knew about. When I meet the Big Guy in the Sky, I want you to write my obit.

  12. John aka L.L. Cool John 11:18am, 11/16/2015

    A well researched historical piece. It made for a fun read. Keep ‘em coming, Ted!

  13. Eric 10:45am, 11/16/2015

    I had heard of Chuck Leslie but I didn’t realize how “light” the guy was while fighting legit 200lb heavies. He was all of 182lbs while fighting Alongi and weighed between 177-185lbs while fighting fighters like Joe Frazier, Ron Lyle, Earnie Shavers and Ken Norton.

  14. Dollarbond 10:42am, 11/16/2015

    I really like the way you sequence your
    Writing.  Nice style

  15. KB 10:28am, 11/16/2015

    Yessir, Jerry was always poorly handled. Only his great skill moderated that handicap.

  16. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:23am, 11/16/2015

    Jerry"s second year as a pro….stick and move Alongi with his 80 inch reach a seven year vet with 42 fights. Stupid decision to redo two months later….goes along with some of the other ill advised career moves that hurt Jerry very, very badly in the end.

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