November 8, 2000
On Sunday, October 29,
hundreds of mourners attended the funeral of late great Robert Tomasello Benson to pay their respects. Though his body was buried at the Interment Mt. Auburn Cemetery in his hometown of Saugus, Massachusetts, his fighting spirit will remain in the millions of hearts he touched and his organs were donated. Lucky the recipient of his gargantuan heart.
Benson's manager and active defense attorney, Anthony Cardinale has been his usually busy self since Benson's tragic passing however, his latest project has been jumpstarting a foundation to honor his late protégé. Those interested in contributing to this fund may send donations in his memory to Bobby Benson Tomasello Charitable Foundation, 655 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02210.
Also on Sunday, approximately 350 guests attended the International Veterans Boxing Association (Ring 4) 52nd Annual Awards Banquet. This year, Massachusetts State Auditor and former world ranked contender, Joe De Nucci was honored as Man of the Year. De Nucci, of North Boston ("The North End") was a well-known middleweight contender who fought professionally from 1957-1972. Along the way, De Nucci compiled an impressive record of 65-12-5 with 31 knockouts. If anyone had a right to cry "robbery" after a fight with Joey Giardello it wasn't Ruben "Hurricane" Carter, it was De Nucci who drew with the former middleweight champion over 12 rounds at the Boston Garden in 1961. Former 5-time world champion, Emile Griffith was also credited with two "gift" decisions over De Nucci in 1972. De Nucci's biggest win came against fellow contender, Denny Moyer. De Nucci is also noted for having the most appearances and wins at the Boston Garden.
After retiring from boxing, De Nucci devoted himself to public service. He was a State Representative for two years and has served as the state's auditor for the past 13 years.
"I've been very fortunate to have had two great careers," said De Nucci. "Boxing was my way making money and getting recognition and it opened so many doors for me. I would not have been elected to the legislature if it were not for the sport of boxing. Boxing was good for me and I will never forget all of the wonderful people in the game who were always there for me. My manager, sparring partners and trainers: they were my friends. (Former welterweight champion) Tony De Marco (also of The North End) was my inspiration. I hate to use the word hero, but he was mine and I really looked up to him. He had a great heart, courage and he was someone I wanted to emulate."
De Marco, also a close friend of De Nucci presented him with a handsome plaque. Others honored were Franceso "Kid" Fratalia (this scribe's uncle), Walter Byars, Billy Connolly, Mickey Dwyer, George Kreger, Bill McCLusky and Don O'Neil. I.V.B.A. Ring 4's president, Reinaldo Oliveira Jr. also presented numerous awards to devoted members of its organization such as Hall of Fame Writer, Charlie Ross.
On Friday, November 17th, Jimmy Burchfield's Classic Entertainment & Sports kicks off his annual Holiday War at the Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet in Cranston, RI. Headlining the card will be Cranston cruiserweight, Athur "The Armenian Assassin" Aribekian (22-4-1, 17 KO's) and Hartford's Israel (Pito) Cardona (33-4, 25 KO's), a former USBA and NABF lightweight champion in separate bouts. Providence power puncher, Gary "Tiger" Balletto (15-0-2, 15 KO's) will hope to add to impressive knockout percentage when he faces Alabama's Rick Dinkins in a 6 round lightweight bout. Also appearing on the card will be "Hollywood" Kathy Rivers, of Woonsocket, RI, who will continue her pursuit of enticing Laila Ali into the ring with her. Rivers is 10-2 with 3 KO's. Peter Manfredo, Jr., a can't miss prospect is also scheduled to appear on the 7 bout card. The show is dedicated to memory of Bobby Tomasello Benson. For more information call 401-724-2253 or visit www.cesboxing.com.
"Sucra" Ray Oliveira (41-7-1, 19 KO's) will hope to earn his third title shot when he faces his the sternest test in former IBF jr. welterweight champion "Cool" Vince Phillips (41-5-1, 30 KO's). The two veterans are slated to appear in a bout contested for the vacant NABF jr. welterweight title on December 22nd at Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, CT. The last time either man has lost was when Vernon Forrest decisioned the two over 12 rounds. Oliveira lost a valiant 12 round decision to Forrest on 5 days notice in 1997 while Phillips lost a 12 rounder to Forrest earlier this year. Incidentally, Oliveira and Phillips are the only men to extend Forrest to the 12 round limit. Oliveira is unbeaten since the loss and has issued the first losses to the careers of Gihad Salman and Vivian Harris. The bout will be the main event for an ESPN2 Friday Night Fights broadcast. Pito Cardona will face Vladimir Matkivsky in the ten round co-feature.
The CBZ would like to offer its deepest condolences to the friends and family of Amelia Palmacci of Cambridge, MA. Palmacci, the wife of veteran Somerville Boxing Club trainer, Ralph Palmacci died suddenly on October 31st.