Boxing great Carmen Basilio, a former two-time world champion who wrested the world middleweight boxing crown from Sugar Ray Robinson in 1957, died early Wednesday morning at the age of 85.
His death was announced by the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, where Basilio was born.
Edward Brophy, executive director of the Boxing Hall of Fame in upstate New York, says Basilio passed away in a Rochester hospital where he was being treated for pneumonia. Basilio’s family said he’d been in failing health since heart-bypass surgery in 1992.
The “Canastota Clouter,” as he was fondly known, Basilio, began his professional career in the ring in 1948 and by the 50s was steadily rising in the ranks of pro boxing.
He won his first world title in Syracuse in 1955 in the welterweight (Under 147 lbs) class.
Two years later, Basilio moved up in weight to challenge an aging Sugar Ray Robinson, claiming the world championship at middle-weight.
Basilio would hang up his gloves for good in 1961 with a career record of 56-16-7 (27KO).
After his boxing career ended Basilio came to Rochester to work for the Genesee Brewing company.
“He was a great man whether he was an athlete or not,” said Basilio’s wife of 26 years, Josie Basilio. “He was just so personable and he loved everyone, he loved people.”
In 1990, Basilio was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame’s inaugural class along with boxing greats such as Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Jake LaMotta, Jersey Joe Walcott, Emile Griffith and Archie Moore.
He is survived by his wife, four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren from two marriages.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Watch Carmen Basilio’s middleweight title fight with Sugar Ray Robinson in the video below: