Tracking Jimmy Dupree

By Mike Casey on December 5, 2013
Tracking Jimmy Dupree
Jimmy Dupree remains a good and decent man and we send him our very best wishes.

The boxing community rallies round its brothers wonderfully well in times of need, especially when one of us isn’t too well. Jimmy Dupree, that splendid light heavyweight contender from the sixties and seventies, is currently unwell and undergoing “minor’”surgery according to his daughter, Pearline.

It hasn’t taken long for Jimmy’s admirers to convey their best wishes. Bobby Franklin, of Ring 4 in Boston, recalls: “I saw your dad fight Dick Hall in the Boston Garden.”

Former fighter Rick Farris says: “I fought on the undercard of Jimmy’s bout with Ray (Windmill) White in 1971.”

Our old friend Charley Norkus Jr., who frequently posts here, has his own memory: “My dad took me in to see your dad fight Johnny Persol in the Garden in 1969. Though Emile Griffith was the main event, the fight of the night went to Jimmy Dupree who was all over Persol with a TKO victory. Very exciting fighter, your dad. His fights with Bobby Cassidy were something too. Best wishes and prayers for your dad at this time.”

Jimmy (The Cat) Dupree was indeed a classy operator and a very slick and skillful boxer. Unluckily for Jimmy, his time as a top contender came when the mighty Bob Foster was on the throne and being shadowed by another very dangerous fighter in Venezuela’s Vicente Rondon, who won a version of the championship when the ever interfering WBA got fed up with big Bob. The man Rondon beat for the title, by sixth round knockout at the Nuevo Circo in Caracas, was Jimmy Dupree.

Foster settled the split championship nonsense when he dispatched Rondon in two chilling rounds in 1972, but it is sometimes forgotten that Rondon had quite an impressive run during his WBA reign. He followed his knockout of Dupree with six title defenses against decent opposition.

It was just as well, perhaps, that Dupree never faced Foster, but that shouldn’t be taken as a disparaging remark against Jimmy. He was a top three contender for some time in The Ring ratings, jostling for position with class fighters in former champion Dick Tiger, Ray Anderson, Mark Tessman, Yvan Prebeg, Bob Dunlop, Andy Kendall, Hal Carroll and Welshman Eddie Avoth.

Jimmy The Cat’s professional career began in 1961 and concluded in 1974. In a 54-fight career, he won 40, lost 10 and drew 4. He defeated good quality men in Herschel, Jacobs, Charley (The Devil) Green, Paul Johnson, Johnny Persol, Eddie (Bossman) Jones, Willis Earls, Ray (Windmill) White and Eddie Owens. Jimmy also won, drew and lost in an exciting three-fight series with Irish Bobby Cassidy, as well as drawing with Ray Anderson.

Your writer remembers the unpredictable Charley (The Devil) Green giving former world champion Jose Torres a major fright in a wild one at Madison Square Garden in 1969. Jose was knocked down twice in rounds one and two before knocking out Green in the second. Floyd Patterson needed 10 rounds to get rid of pesky Charley in their 1970 fight.

Johnny Persol was another danger man of that era, while Irish Bobby Cassidy was never an easy proposition for anyone. You had to be more than a tad useful to get past such men and Jimmy Dupree was more than useful.

Back in late 1969, after overcoming several setbacks to establish himself as a top contender, Jimmy reflected: “Setbacks are bitter medicine for unstable boxers. But the medicine usually cures. My losses taught me how to avoid losing and keep from being knocked out. More important still, to win and score kayoes.

“I’m more anxious to move into the money because I want the best for my kids.”

Jimmy’s favorite fighter was Sonny Liston and Dupree was also pals with Chuck Wepner. Jimmy wasn’t just a knockout in the ring either. He did a lot of good work for those in need.

In 1969, he was trying to influence his hometown of Jersey City to open a gymnasium for youngsters. “I’m willing to give as much of my time as I can spare to work with kids and Chuck Wepner would do likewise. We would teach them how to box.”

In later years, Jimmy, who kept himself superbly fit, would become known as ‘the man who runs for causes.’ Among other projects, he raised money for sickle cell anemia, retardation and muscular dystrophy.

One of his more memorable runs was from City Hall in New Jersey to City Hall in Newark, crossing 13 bridges from the New Jersey end of the George Washington Bridge to the Willowbrook Hospital on Staten Island.

Dupree was also the runner who led the New York Giants into their new stadium at Meadowlands.

Jimmy remains a good and decent man and we send him our very best wishes.

Mike Casey is a writer and Founder & Editor of ALL TIME BOXING at He is a freelance journalist and boxing historian and a member of the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO).

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  1. Mike Casey 02:43am, 12/10/2013

    Thanks, Bobby - best wishes!

  2. Bobby Cassidy Jr. 03:06pm, 12/09/2013

    Thoughts and prayers to Jimmy Dupree ... My Dad always spoke highly of Jimmy “The Cat” Dupree.. It was not often that you would see a pair of contenders fight three times in the same year, but that was 1973 and things were a little different back then .. And when my dad talked about him, he always said his nickname ... I had the pleasure of meeting him in Atlantic City once, what a gentleman. what a fighter.

  3. Mike Casey 03:34am, 12/07/2013

    Thanks as always, Ron - great memories! You sparred with some terrific fighters back then.

  4. RonLipton 07:49pm, 12/06/2013

    I enjoyed that article Mike, Bravo!  I knew Jimmy very well back in the 70’s when I was an Investigator with the Hudson County N.J. Prosecutor’s Office in Jersey City.  I would go down to his gym and visit with him and box round after round with him, teaching me even more of his in the ring tricks that he mastered so well.  I never forgot them either and pass them on to my boxing students to this day.

    He always treated me well and welcomed me there as a friend. I was ringside for many of his fights in the Garden and I was there with my cousin in the Felt Forum when he fought Bobby Cassidy III and was dropped and kept getting up. 

    Little did I know then that I would be refereeing fights in the Garden with Bobby Cassidy handling the boxers in the corner, like Lonnie Bradley.

    Great article, thanks.

    Ron Lipton

  5. Mike Casey 03:33am, 12/06/2013

    Thanks, Mike!

  6. Mike Silver 01:43pm, 12/05/2013

    My prayers go out to Jimmy. I have a personal connection to this fine and gracious man. I was taking boxing instruction at Stillman’s gym in 1961and I was there when my trainer, Willie Grunes, started Jimmy off in the amateurs. He was already 23 years old and had only has 4 amateur fights before turning pro. Jimmy had tremendous reflexes, was very strong and could take you out with his right hand. He had virtually no schooling but if you spoke with him it was obvious he was very intelligent and insightful. No telling how far he would have gone with an education.

  7. Mike Casey 11:59am, 12/05/2013

    Nice story, Peter - thank you.

  8. peter 11:56am, 12/05/2013

    Jimmy was a great guy. I trained with him at Bufano’s Gym, on the corner of Beacon & Oakland Streets in Jersey City. I remember Jimmy telling me about the day before his fight with Johnny Persol in the Garden. He said by mistake he forgot what day it was and he ended up drinking a whole six-pack of Pepsi before the fight. Jimmy still ended up winning the fight…Jimmy normally trained at his own gym, but every once in awhile he’d come to train at Bufano’s.  Rodell Dupree trained up there, too. We always thought Rodell was Jimmy’s brother, but then I heard otherwise.

  9. Mike Casey 09:14am, 12/05/2013

    Yes, Mike, you’re quite right about Jimmy. Re. Rondon, his fight against Shavers became a cliffhanger in the later rounds when Earnie became exhausted from trying to blow Vicente away and had to hang on for the decision. The Foster knockout of Rondon was chilling. I liked Richie Kates too. Some really good men around back then.

  10. Mike Schmidt 09:08am, 12/05/2013

    Your usually good as it gets story/write Sir Casey. I personally loved it- it was a solid solid Light Heavy compete back then and guys like Mr. Dupree, and another fav of mine, Richie Kates, were guys to watch with enjoyment. I remember the Rondon fight well- there was a big build to that fight as the WBA/WBC split Champs- Rondon looked frozen off the get go and Bob Foster did what Bob Foster did- K.O. Funny thing, about Rondon, (and you hit it right Mike he was on a run before Foster) he had fought as a middle (think he fought lost to Bad Bennie), was a tall guy but not broad build, and I remember being shocked that after Foster he moved up and fought Ronnie Lyle and I think Shavers as well. Anyrate, Rondon career did the tailspin after that second round Foster demolition. Back to Jimmy and if you look at his record, one to be exceptionally proud of in a tough tough era when he and guys like Richie Kates would have been Champs in another time- good stuff Mike

  11. Mike Casey 08:17am, 12/05/2013

    Pearline Dupree has since told us us that surgery has gone well for her father and that he now needs to recover.

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