The Impudent Sammy Angott

By Clarence George on March 19, 2013
The Impudent Sammy Angott
Sammy "The Clutch" Angott fought from 1935 to 1950. He was stopped only one time.

March 19, the Feast Day of St. Joseph, and the adoptive father of Our Lord smiled upon one good Italian-Catholic boy…and not on the other.

Willie Pep (229-11-1, 65 KOs) reigns supreme as greatest featherweight of all time. He’s second to none, and that includes fellow legends Sandy Saddler, Tony Canzoneri, and Salvador Sanchez.

“Will o’ the Wisp” won the title from Chalky Wright by unanimous decision in 1942 and held it until Saddler defeated him by fourth-round KO six years later, the first time Pep had been stopped…but not the first time he’d been beaten.

From Pep’s pro debut on July 25, 1940, when he defeated Joey Marcus by unanimous decision, to March 2, 1943, when he stopped Lou Transparenti by sixth-round KO, Pep’s gloved fist was raised in victory in every single fight he had—62 wins, 23 by stoppage. But at Madison Square Garden on March 19, 1943—70 years ago today— referee Billy Cavanaugh took another man by the wrist and lifted high his hand.

Sammy Angott (94-29-8, 22 KOs) fought from 1935 to 1950. He was stopped only once, by Beau Jack via seventh-round TKO in 1946. “The Clutch” won the NBA lightweight title by outpointing Davey Day in 1940 and was recognized as Lightweight Champion of the World following his unanimous decision win over Lew Jenkins in 1941. He successfully defended his title once, defeating Allie Stolz by split decision in 1942, before relinquishing his crown because of an injured hand. Angott regained the NBA championship in 1943 by beating Slugger White via unanimous decision. He lost the title the following year, defeated by Juan Zurita via unanimous decision.

Samuel Engotti, as he was born, took on the best of his time, including lightweights Bob Montgomery and Ike Williams, welters Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong, and Fritzie Zivic, and featherweights Baby Arizmendi and Gugliermo Papaleo, the latter better known as…Willie Pep.

It was hardly a one-sided affair. After all, Cavanaugh had it five rounds to four, as did judge Bill Healy, while judge Joe Agnello awarded the victor six of the 10. Still, the fact remains that Angott brought to a halt Pep’s jaw-dropping 62-win streak.

Nil desperandum, cried Pep. He must have, because he proceeded to win his next 73 bouts, 22 by stoppage—undefeated over the course of five years. An amazing achievement, hardly marred by the sole draw of his career, against Jimmy McAllister in 1945. 

Pep regained his title from Saddler by unanimous decision in 1949, only to lose it back to him the following year—Pep couldn’t answer the bell for the eighth. “Will o’ the Wisp” failed to regain his crown in the final bout with his nemesis, Saddler retiring him in the ninth. Saddler-Pep IV, which took place in 1951, is one of the delightfully dirtiest fights in the history of the sport, up there with Tony Galento vs. Lou Nova and the first bout between Zivic and Al Bummy Davis.

In addition to Saddler, only three men managed to stop the greatest featherweight in the history of the Sweet Science—Tommy Collins by sixth-round TKO in 1952, Lulu Perez by second-round TKO in 1954, and world featherweight titlist Hogan Kid Bassey by ninth-round TKO in 1958. Pep last fought in 1966, losing by unanimous decision to Calvin Woodland.

As for Angott… The all-important question leaps to one’s mind, doesn’t it? Between March 19, 1943 and his death on October 22, 1980…did Angott ever have to pay for a drink? Nah.

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  1. Jim Crue 11:29am, 03/20/2013

    When Robinson fought Angott the first time they were the same weight. If the powers that be would have allowed Robinson to fight for the lightweight title he would have won that easily. In their other 2 fights there was about a 4 LBS. weight advantage for Robinson. Sammy knew he would get a good pay day fighting Ray and Ray would not give him a beating. Robinson carried lots of guys.

  2. Clarence George 03:18am, 03/20/2013

    Guys born to it, eh, Mike?  To it…and for it.

  3. Mike Casey 03:11am, 03/20/2013

    Yes, I seem to recall Willie and Sandy either got suspended or banned, Clarence. It was hard to keep track in that era! Great, great boxers. Saddler - with his box of tricks allied to his knockout power - must have been a downright frightening guy to fight. I think Willie did pretty well in that series. He’d had his plane crash by then and many felt that he was never quite the same boxer after that - by his own exceptional standards of course!

  4. Clarence George 02:53am, 03/20/2013

    So glad you liked it, Mike, and thanks for the information.

    Wasn’t Pep also banned after his fourth fight with Saddler?  And Saddler, too, I think.

    They’re among my favorites.  In terms of quality, there’s no more than a millimeter between them.  Imagine what they, even more than Angott, would do to the current crop.  Talk about wiping the floor!

  5. Mike Casey 01:57am, 03/20/2013

    Willie was a wonder, Clarence - so beautiful to watch. But that Lulu Perez ‘loss’ got him banned in New York. I just checked the film again, and Willie’s impression of a stunned man is quite woeful. Funny side to it though - his wonderful skills are so innate that he instinctively rides the knockdown punches! But you look at that record of Willie’s - ditto Robinson - and it’s awesome. Saddler’s record is similarly awe-inspiring - something like 103 knockouts alone, which even surpasses Henry Armstrong’s total. And these guys were campaigning against a terrific pool of talent. Thanks for remembering ‘Sammy the Clutch’ too, who would tie the current crop in knots.

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