Vinne Curto—The Documentary

By Robert Ecksel on April 24, 2013
Vinne Curto—The Documentary
“Rocky I, that was me,” said Vinnie Curto. “Rockies II and III, them was some other guys.”

“Why do some people with no talent and inept in almost every way reach the pinnacles of success where others with talent and heart struggle just to survive?”

Boxing can be so triumphant and heartbreaking, so exhilarating yet depressing, that it’s sometimes hard to forget it’s redemptive at its core. One fighter who experienced the triumph and heartbreak, the ups and the downs, is former super middleweight contender Vinnie Curto.

An East Boston native, Curto had his first pro fight in 1972, shortly after he turned 18, and had his last fight 24 years later. When he retired in 1996, his record was a respectable 62-10-3 with 26 KOs.

Curto was trained by Angelo Dundee. He sparred with Muhammad Ali. He was managed for a time by Sylvester Stallone. “He seen some Rocky in me,” Vinnie explained in 1986. “Rocky I, that was me. Rockies II and III, them was some other guys.” And while Curto’s competition, like his skills, left something to be desired, he did get it on with Rodrigo Valdes in 1974 (52-4-2 at the time), Tony Licata in 1975 (47-0-3), and beat Bennie Briscoe in 1975 and 1980, although the first fight was ruled a draw.

“It was in Philadelphia,” Vinnie said. “I would’ve had to of killed him to win. They’d give him a draw from a stretcher.”

As substantial as Curto’s boxing career was, his pre- and post-fight careers were as well.

“I was born in East Boston, Massachusetts,” he said during his one-man show. “I was an abused child. I was sexually abused. My father, Jimmy Curto, whacked my life around. He was a raving sick, homosexual alcoholic, and the jury is still out on my mother. They got married to appease normal societal practices. I left home when I was 14 to pursue a boxing career that I was brainwashed into, and to escape the sexual advances of my father and the unloving behavior of my mother.

“I traveled around the world three times fighting for three world titles, winning one (WBF super cruiserweight title) on my final attempt—and for what? For years I was still broker than the 10 Commandments because I had six wives and seven kids from all walks of life. I was the King of Commitment with a Fatherly Touch. If you look up in the dictionary the word divorce, you will find a picture of me holding two signs. One says, ‘Will work for birth control.’ The other says, ‘Eating is a tough habit to break.’”

If that doesn’t whet your appetite, there is more.

“I realized over the years I was here to find the answer to one question: Why do some people with no talent and inept in almost every way reach the pinnacles of success where others with talent and heart struggle just to survive? It seemed unfair. I found answers along the way, from Christian Mystics, to studying with an Indian university professor in Montreal named Rooshi Kumarpandya, to a little Jewish physicist named Lester Levenson, although after he had left the earth. In the end, they all had one common thread. The path to true winning lies in one thing only: LOVE… LOVE… LOVE.

“I lived 400 years on my 55 years on this Earth. I’ve lived it. I’ve seen it. I’ve done it. I made everything happen that was bad, I ruined everything that was good. I was a victim of your worst nightmares, and I freely indulged in your wildest dreams.”

The wildest dreams of Vinnie Curto are being made into a documentary called CURTO—A True Story of a Real Fighter. It’s the story of a boxer, gangster, hustler and actor, a man who took the phrase “survival of the fittest” literally.

In 1997 Mark Wahlberg, who portrayed Micky Ward in “The Fighter,” and Robert De Niro, whose tour-de-force as Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull” is still on tour, tried and failed to make a film of Vinnie’s life called “Out on My Feet.” That film was out on its feet not long after the opening bell.

Larry Golin, a screenwriter in LA who has written sports films for HBO and SHOWTIME, is attempting to raise funds to finish the Vinnie Curto project. The difference between winning and losing is often in the eyes of the beholder, and in this beholder’s eyes the documentary CURTO looks like a winner.

If you’re rolling in dough, have some spare change, or just have a hankering for showbiz, contact http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1398812776/curto.

Tell them Boxing.com sent you.

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Chong-Pal Park vs Vinnie Curto II 1/7



Chong-Pal Park vs Vinnie Curto II 2/7



Chong-Pal Park vs Vinnie Curto II 3/7



Chong-Pal Park vs Vinnie Curto II 4/7



Chong-Pal Park vs Vinnie Curto II 5/7



Chong-Pal Park vs Vinnie Curto II 6/7



Chong-Pal Park vs Vinnie Curto II 7/7



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  1. Julie Wynn 03:26pm, 05/03/2013

    What an inspiring story! Very interesting read!

  2. Russ Anber 07:33pm, 04/25/2013

    No the check didn’t come in yet, you cheap prick! LOL But this one is one the arm buddy. I know you better than most, and am happy to share and tell your story Vinnie. Boxing shouldn’t forget one of its finest talents and great characters. You deserve your day! I only wish todays fans and fighters could see what they would have had to contend with had they been a middleweight in the late 70’s and 80’s

  3. VinnieCurto 07:00pm, 04/25/2013

    Russ I can see you got my check???!!!! Just kidding!!! Thank you buddy for your kind and inspiring words.. The statute of limitations is up and I can tell my real story.

  4. Ted 05:34pm, 04/25/2013

    How great it is to see Russ Anber on here. He is a true legend in Quebec boxing circles and a great guy to boot.

  5. Russ Anber 05:24pm, 04/25/2013

    If it wasn’t for Vinnie Curto, I never would have gotten a start to live the life of boxing which I have lived for the last 35 years.

    As an eager, untested 18 year old, Vinnie Curto gave me the time, the caring and the belief that I could be someone. Without his words of encouragement, without his sincerity and without his honesty, I could never have succeed in this game. Vinnie gave me the confidence needed and the belief that I could succeed. I will never forget what he did for me.

    As for Vinnie the fighter, and now speaking 35 years later, I can confidently say that he is without a doubt one of the greatest boxing minds I have ever met. To look at him and his height and reach, or lack thereof, one would imagine a hard-nosed slugger with little regard for defence. On the contrary, while definitely hard-nosed, Vinne was a defensive genius with remarkable talent and sound, old-school skills.

    What a shame that more film and video doesn’t exist on this boxing genius. So many people today are unaware of the man who fought such great fighters like Rodrigo Valdez, Bennie Briscoe, Vito Antuofermo, Mark Frazie, Chong Pal Park, and the list goes on. If fight fans today could get a look at how simply awesome Vinnie was in the ring, this movie would have already been made!

  6. Ted 03:04pm, 04/25/2013

    HOLY SHIT!

  7. Clarence George 02:46pm, 04/25/2013

    And handle a hose.

  8. Ted 02:41pm, 04/25/2013

    Joy Harmon almost made me forget Halle Berry. Joy sure knew how to wash a car.

  9. Clarence George 02:21pm, 04/25/2013

    Irish:  You never cease to amaze…and amuse.

  10. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 02:16pm, 04/25/2013

    Clarence George—I guess it was Agnes’ stage presence that caught my undivided attention when she sometimes played elegant, remote, prim and proper ladies of style and substance (before “Bewitched”)....the thought of getting a hummer from such a creature is enough to make one’s blood boil!

  11. Clarence George 01:37pm, 04/25/2013

    Your extraordinary taste in women, Irish.  Yes, there are indeed rumors that Agnes Moorehead was a lesbian.  Besides, she doesn’t hold a candle to Hope Emerson…which is perhaps not the best choice of words.

    Mike Schmidt:  I share your admiration for Donna Douglas (Elly May Clampett), but you’re conflating two Maureens (you wish!)—O’Hara was in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, while O’Sullivan (Mia Farrow’s mother) played Jane to Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan…so to speak.

    I’ll take this opportunity to add a couple more:  Judy Carne and Meg Myles.  And let’s not forget Joy Harmon and her effect on the boys of “Cool Hand Luke.”

    Mike Casey is a very bad influence on the rest of us and he should be deeply ashamed.

  12. Mike Shmidt 11:14am, 04/25/2013

    Back to all seriousness- without a Federal Commish and guidelines in terms of ticket sales, venue allocations, TV allocation, and how if any flows down to the fighter—well Lind it ain’t gonna change—too many players

  13. Lindy Lindell 10:34am, 04/25/2013

    Can’t get the financing to finish the project?  What is unmentioned in the article and the 38 posts of responses so far is that the atmosphere of the film is thick with such an abundance of millionaires (Stallone, Wahlberg, etc.) that the veritable chump change involved puts the whole business in a situation that should be held up as an embarrassment to those millionaires, especially Stallone, who owes his “break” into Shobiz to boxing, and who continues to milk that fame/notoriety and giving nothing back—at least to boxing, as I’m aware of.

  14. Mike Schmidt 10:18am, 04/25/2013

    Kim Novak, Diana Rigg and Diane Lane as well oh and since I just got back from Panama (what a show—Duran, Chemito, Pedroza, Hillary Zapata, 50 Cent, Jeff Mayweather, Kenny Bayless, Steve Smoger, Vic the Dracula, El Nica, Celestino—he lost, all in the house) any all the lovely ladies that inhabit the land of Isthmus Central America—according to the lovely Suzanna I am allowed to look, only, anything else and the momma’s boy Coyote/Shepherd Bronson gonna get me—adios

  15. Mike Schmidt 10:11am, 04/25/2013

    Maureen O’Hara—I knew it would come to me—oh and as a gimme I gotta have Raquel Welch in movie Fathom, the dino flick and the rollerball flick yep yep

  16. JOHN COILEY 10:11am, 04/25/2013

    did someone mention HALLE BERRY?????????

  17. Mike Schmidt 10:09am, 04/25/2013

    Sharon Tate, Catherine Deneuve, Jethro Bodine’s sister Elle May, Julie Newmar, the chick that played in the Tarzan and Hunchback of Notre Dame movie—I want em allllllllllll. Sorry Fearless Editor I got distracted—these lads are a very bad influence.

  18. Ted 09:29am, 04/25/2013

    Halle Berry thank you!

  19. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:24am, 04/25/2013

    You guys can have the rest…it’s Agnes Moorehead for me…I bet she was a devil in between the sheets! I hope Clarence George won’t spoil my fun by reporting that she was a Lesbian….in that case maybe that gate swung both ways…hope springs eternal!

  20. Clarence George 04:18am, 04/25/2013

    Ooh, Hungarian women.  I once had one from the mountains come at me with a knife the length of a scimitar.  After disarming her, we…  I thank God that She Who Must Be Obeyed only reads my articles—my piece on Troelenberg, especially the accompanying comments, got me into sufficiently hot water.

  21. Ted 04:09am, 04/25/2013

    And let’s not forget my ex-wife who was a Hungarian beauty named Kozcan.

  22. Clarence George 02:41am, 04/25/2013

    And let’s not forget Yvette Vickers, who always seemed to be rubbing lotion on those legs of hers. 

    Hollywood Gothic:  Dead in her home for at least a year…and nobody knew.

  23. Clarence George 02:33am, 04/25/2013

    Oh, I love Joey Heatherton!  Definitely among my top 10.  Is she your favorite, Frank?  If so, an excellent choice.

  24. FrankinDallas 10:12pm, 04/24/2013

    Joey Heatherton.

  25. Clarence George 05:05pm, 04/24/2013

    Ooh, that was painful, Ted.  Clever, but painful.

  26. Ted 02:38pm, 04/24/2013

    Ha, Clarence, thanks for the heads up on Jayne.

  27. Clarence George 01:18pm, 04/24/2013

    Ha!  Jayne’s Hungarian husband is certainly a factor, but she had other…assets.

    Yes, terrible death, but apparently not decapitated, contrary to popular belief.

  28. ted 01:09pm, 04/24/2013

    Clarence, But that look a “hungry” Kim gave Holden was so pure 50s It almost makes me weep thinking about it. Yes Jane was something as well, but I know why she was one of your favorites. I have broken the code.  Mickey Hargitay. Birth Name: Miklós Hargitay; Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary;

    I really loved her, but she came to a bad ending. I’ll leave it at that becuase the thought of what happened is not a pleasant one.

  29. Clarence George 12:53pm, 04/24/2013

    Ted:  There’s a photo of me as a boy of four or five, and I have an insufferably smug look on my face.  The wall in front of which I’m standing a la Hefner is plastered with photos of nightgowned women that I had cut out with plastic scissors from a variety of magazines.  I got away with it by convincing my mother that they reminded me of her.  Though my mother was (and is) a beautiful woman…that ain’t why I cut them out.

    I’ve never known anyone more lustrous than Kim Novak in “Bell, Book and Candle” (awful movie, though).  Lila Leeds disappeared into obscurity and died about 15 years ago.  Yes, I wrote about Barbara Payton a couple of months back.  Thanks for remembering.  But my own personal favorite is…Jayne Mansfield.

  30. VinnieCurto 12:52pm, 04/24/2013

    Ted, I have been working on the bitterness.  I recently met with Sly Stallone and his brother Frank, along with Schwarzenegger.  I told Sly I was sorry for the misunderstandings in the past.  He hugged me and said in his inimitable way, “Vinnie, it’s a new day!”

  31. Robert Ecksel 12:37pm, 04/24/2013

    Hi Patty. My email to you got bounced back to me. I made that change and added a hyperlink. I hope it helps. Please keep me up-to-date on this project. I’d like to interview Vinnie during the next phase.

  32. Patty 12:37pm, 04/24/2013

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1398812776/curto

    If you click on the link above, it will take you to the kickstarter page “CURTO” where you can donate what you can and reap some great rewards. This is the only way we can get his story made.  Let’s make this happen for Vinnie!

  33. Ted 12:25pm, 04/24/2013

    Clarence, your memory bank of intriguing and beautiful women is incredible, but nothing, and I mean Nothing, tops Barbara Peyton whom I believe you have documented—unless it is Lila Leeds. Both were from the heartland, of course. As was my personal favorite, though innocent, and Chicago neighborhood girl, Kim Novak.

  34. Ted 12:18pm, 04/24/2013

    Russ may be in Argentina working Martinez’s corner but I forwarded him your post, Vinnie

    You are beloved by the Ring 4 guys, believe me on that.

  35. Patty 12:04pm, 04/24/2013

    Thank you to Vinnie and thank you Robert for posting this. It brought tears to my eyes.

  36. VinnieCurto 11:54am, 04/24/2013

    Thanks Ted, it’s all going to come out. I have been working on the bitterness actually….I had a great meeting with Sly Stallone recently, we had gotten into it a bit when I fought for Tiger Eye. We met with Arnold Schwarzennegar and his brother Frank, who was the mediator.  I said to Sly, “I’m sorry, Sly, for the misunderstandings we’ve had over the years.”  Sly hugged me and said in his inimitable way, “Vinnie, it’s a new day!”

  37. Clarence George 11:48am, 04/24/2013

    Poor Simone—her topless antics with Mitchum at Cannes didn’t launch her career, and she was dead before 30.

  38. VinnieCurto 11:42am, 04/24/2013

    If and when this documentary is completed, the boxing world will know the truth.  In a sport where you need 100% positive mental condition to go along with the obvious physical, I fought every fight with 10% mental health, and I fought all the baddest fighters the world had to offer in this condition. I was fighting for my very existence, and nobody knew it.  I hope this documentary will answer the many unanswered questions that plagued and helped my career. In recent years, I made peace with myself, along with Sylvester Stallone, and I posted a little something on Hagler’s website in the same spirit.  A close friend of mine, named Rooshi Kumarpondya, who I met at McGill University in Canada, when I was preparing to fight this young lion named Eddie Melo helped me. Eddie Melo, God rest his soul, did his homework and found out about my child abuse as a kid, and he made snide remarks at the weigh in, that really got to me, about my father.  Russ Anber, who I discovered up there when I was training, was attending the school and told me about Rooshi.  When I went, Rooshi had the article on his desk, and said he saw all that was said about me and my father.  He said, “Do you want to win!” I said, “That’s why I’m here.”  He said, “Good, we will get started right away!  Are you prepared to love this man?” My eyes got real wide, I took a deep breath, and I said, “Yes I am, Rooshi!”  I beat him, after Don King had just signed him, everyone had thought he would win.  Now, I am finally winning in the rest of my life. It sounds cliche, but Love IS the answer.  It’s strange, over the years, when it seemed like it was me against the world, my two silent admirers, Larry Golin and his wife Patty, never forgot me, and they are the reason why this is coming to fruition. Thanks to all you readers also, so much, for all the contributions and support!!!!!  VC

  39. Ted Sares 11:33am, 04/24/2013

    God Bless Vinnie.

  40. Vinnie Curto 11:32am, 04/24/2013

    If and when this documentary is completed, the boxing world will know the truth.  In a sport where you need 100% positive mental condition to go along with the obvious physical, I fought every fight with 10% mental health, and I fought all the baddest fighters the world had to offer in this condition. I was fighting for my very existence, and nobody knew it.  I hope this documentary will answer the many unanswered questions that plagued and helped my career. In recent years, I made peace with myself, along with Sylvester Stallone, and I posted a little something on Hagler’s website in the same spirit.  A close friend of mine, named Rooshi Kumarpondya, who I met at McGill University in Canada, when I was preparing to fight this young lion named Eddie Melo helped me. Eddie Melo, God rest his soul, did his homework and found out about my child abuse as a kid, and he made snide remarks at the weigh in, that really got to me, about my father.  Russ Anber, who I discovered up there when I was training, was attending the school and told me about Rooshi.  When I went, Rooshi had the article on his desk, and said he saw all that was said about me and my father.  He said, “Do you want to win!” I said, “That’s why I’m here.”  He said, “Good, we will get started right away!  Are you prepared to love this man?” My eyes got real wide, I took a deep breath, and I said, “Yes I am, Rooshi!”  I beat him, after Don King had just signed him, everyone had thought he would win.  Now, I am finally winning in the rest of my life. It sounds cliche, but Love IS the answer.  It’s strange, over the years, when it seemed like it was me against the world, my two silent admirers, Larry Golin and his wife Patty, never forgot me, and they are the reason why this is coming to fruition. Thanks to all you readers also, so much, for all the contributions and support!!!!!  VC

  41. Ted 09:51am, 04/24/2013

    Simone Silva! I am truly impressed.

  42. Ted 09:50am, 04/24/2013

    Poor Mitchum contributed to reefer madness. Oh what a sin. But anyone who doesn’t like Mitchum, doesn’t like Palance, and anyone who doesn’t like Palance, well hell, I just don’t know what to say.

  43. Don from Prov 09:38am, 04/24/2013

    “looks happy enough to be a promoter”

    Very good, Mr. Sares.  Made me laugh.

  44. Clarence George 09:29am, 04/24/2013

    An amazingly underrated actor, Mike.  His performance in “Night of the Hunter” froze the blood—“Don’t you touch that, little lamb.  Don’t touch my knife.  That makes me mad.  That makes me very, very mad.”  “Cape Fear” even more so—“I got something planned for your wife and kid that they ain’t never gonna forget…and neither will you.”

  45. john coiley 09:29am, 04/24/2013

    I AM truly impressed. I was aware of the potential for this movie of Vinnie’s life and career, and knew, too, of the roadblocks. Vinnie and I began our careers in Boston’s New Garden Gym. We sparred a time or two or three. When he came back from FL after having worked with Angelo Dundee, he was so much slicker, elusive, countering everything thrown at him. He hung in there, thank God. I wish you the best, Vinnie…

  46. Mike Casey 09:15am, 04/24/2013

    I could easily hate Mitch if I didn’t like him so much!

  47. Clarence George 09:11am, 04/24/2013

    Yes, I think Mazurki was either Austrian or Hungarian.  He almost always played goons, such as Moose Malloy in “Murder, My Sweet.”

    With Mitchum, when arrested for marijuana possession, was the lovely Lila Leeds.  And remember that buxom babe who was all over him at the Cannes Film Festival?  Simone Silva.

  48. Ted 08:42am, 04/24/2013

    Curto is in Florida now and runs a gym. He can be heard on a number of videos, but he needs to shake his anger. Russ Anber worked with him in Montreal and they are both tight.

    I saw Vinnie fight several times, but even though he was from Boston, he mostly fought in Florida and Canada.

    Here is what I ONCE SAID ABOUT HIM

    “As soon as I entered the smoke-filled auditorium and heard the ooohs and aaahs, I sensed immediately what kind of fighter was in there. Then I heard, “Oh my God, he missed him,” and “did you see that move?” That’s when all doubt was removed.

    The guy who was fighting that night in Boston was slick Vinnie Curto, 43-5-3 at the time, and he was making crafty side-to-side, stick and get-out moves. Slipping and dipping, he was countering well against his ferocious looking opponent. By employing all the tricks, he was nullifying his opponent style and taking away his game plan. Soon, he would take away his spirit. But this wasn’t just any opponent; it was none other than Bad Bennie Briscoe, 64-20-5 coming in.”

    Vinnie was one of my favorite fighters and I use him to test whether a so-called aficionado is really an authentic one. If you know about Vinnie, you know about boxing IMO..

    Robert, don’t mean to hijack your story, but you really got my attention on this one and I have distributed it to my lists.

  49. ted 08:33am, 04/24/2013

    Mike Mazurki., Clarence spotted him right off. He was great spot actor back in the day. A real tough guy. A great pro wrestler. Might be Hungarian. Not sure. Played in a shitload of films.

    Guy on the left looks happy enough to be a promoter.

  50. Mike Casey 08:32am, 04/24/2013

    Nice story, Robert!

  51. Mike Casey 08:31am, 04/24/2013

    Mitchum used to celebrate coming out of rehab with a glass or ten of neat vodka. Curto might have lived even faster.

  52. Don from Prov 08:27am, 04/24/2013

    I like that idea.
    By the way, who is that shaking hands with Curto—

    Looks like a badly depleted Robert Mitchum.

  53. ted 08:12am, 04/24/2013

    Don, let’s make sure we sit next to Bobby Benoit at the May luncheon and we will get it. It’s rather fascinating.

  54. Don from Prov 07:52am, 04/24/2013

    Slick slick slick were/are those fighters, and Curto, Mr. Sares.

    Would love to know the backstory on the maybe Hagler fight.
    I don’t think Curto would have been easy for him—not at all.

  55. Ted 07:18am, 04/24/2013

    Curto, who beat Bad Bennie Briscoe in the middle of a 29-fight undefeated streak, belonged to a fraternity of fighters with a long and proud tradition. Perhaps the first name that comes to mind is Willie Pep, but Jimmy Young cannot be far behind. There have been many others over the years and there are some out there now. Names like Billy Conn, Jersey Joe Walcott, Bobo Olson, Nicolino Locche, George Benton, Tyrone “Butterfly” Crawley, Pernell Whitaker, James Toney, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. quickly emerge. All smooth boxers with outstanding defensive skills

  56. Ted 06:59am, 04/24/2013

    Gosh, I knew Vinnie back in the day and he was the essence of a cutie in the ring. I even remember when Vinny was a bouncer here in Boston, but he had a great run of wins in Canada and especially in Florida. A fight between Vinnie and Hagler would have been interesting based on their respective styles. One of my great thrills was seeing him fight Park in Korea during a time when I was living in Seoul. I have written extensively about Vinnie, but he remains very bitter for whatever reasons. One of the stories behind the story involves matchmaker Johnny Gags and the maybe fight with Hagler. Only Boston guys probably know the details behind that delicious story.

    Great stuff, Robert.

  57. Clarence George 06:45am, 04/24/2013

    Great photo of Mike Mazurki.

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