Tracy Callis

Joseph S. Page

In this book about the often underrated heavyweight champion, Primo Carnera, the life of Carnera is presented, from the early years to his death. One of the largest heavyweights, questions about his true ability as a boxer have been raised over the years. This book does not dodge these questions but, instead, addresses them honestly and squarely.

The Amazon and McFarland websites say a lot about Primo with the following description:


At over six and a half feet tall and nearly 300 pounds, heavyweight champion Primo Carnera was a giant for his times, but today "the Ambling Alp" is too often written off as an unskilled oaf and a product of the mob dealings that plagued boxing during the 1930s. He may not have been a natural in the ring, but he worked as hard as any boxer to learn his craft, to be in top condition, and he repeatedly showed that he was tougher than nails. This biography details Carnera's early life and boxing career, his success as a fighter as well as accusations of fight fixing, his strengths and limitations in the ring, and his later career as a wrestler.


A brief introduction of the young Primo in Sequals, Italy begins the account of his career and his journey to the capture the heavyweight crown - and beyond. The book addresses his early career in Europe, 1928-1929, takes a good, close look at some of his key encounters in the United States in 1930 and when he stepped up to stiffer competition in 1931. His bouts with the top men he faced in 1932 are examined when he was "Making His Case" !

Other interesting and informative chapters included in the book are --

  • The Death of Ernie Schaaf

  • "A Right Uppercut": The Championship, 1933

  • Title Defenses, 1933-1934

  • Max Baer, 1934

  • The Joe Louis Fight, 1935

  • The Comeback/Wrestling, 1945-1962

  • The Fix Question

As followers of boxing already know, Primo was a big fellow who was quite mobile on his feet. In addition, he displayed pretty good boxing mechanics. He was strong and could hit too. However, his greatest weakness was his inability to take a knockout punch and keep going. Boxing historians, or others, who follow the sport, will profit from reading this book about one of the ring's huge champions - and, you know what? Primo just might have been better than many historians and boxing analysts give him credit for being.

Joseph S. Page is a corporate learning and development professional who boxed throughout high school and college. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee.

To order this book, visit the websites amazon and McFarland

The McFarland Order Line is 800-253-2187

257 pages. softcover (7 x 10), $35.00
21 photos, ring record, undercard bouts, notes, bibliography, index
Print ISBN : 978-0-7864-4810-4
EBook ISBN: 978-0-7864-5786-1


Callis description --

Carnera was an extremely well-built man who possessed great strength and was quite mobile for such a large man; However, his chin was vulnerable to the type of power punch that the top heavyweight fighters were able to deliver

His punching was hindered somewhat by his heavy muscles but nevertheless he scored many knockouts due to his considerable strength and power; Primo began fighting in Europe and then migrated to the United States; Many observers felt that many of his wins were "fixed" due to some connections held by those managing him; This shadow of doubt has caused boxing people to question his true ability as a fighter

In the 1940s, he and his family lived in a ranch - style house in the San Fernando Valley; In the 1950s, he owned an Italian restaurant on Pico Blvd in Los Angeles, near 20th Century - Fox Studios; In the 1960s, he owned a liquor store on South Brand Blvd in Glendale, Ca;  He and his wife spent their last years in Los Angeles living in an apartment in Culver City, Ca before moving back to Italy in 1966

During his career, Carnera won the Heavyweight Championship of the World and defeated such men as Jack Sharkey, Tommy Loughran, George Godfrey, W.L. "Young" Stribling, Franz Diener, Paulino Uzcudun, Pierre Charles, Ernie Schaaf, King Levinsky, Vittorio Campolo, George Cook and Jose Santa

Primo was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990

Review courtesy of Tracy Callis, Historian, International Boxing Research Organization
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