SI Vault
 
YOU CAN'T KEEP A BAD BOY DOWN
Morton Sharnik
December 16, 1963
After 15 years and 123 fights Joey Giardello finally got serious about boxing. Result: a new champion
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
December 16, 1963

You Can't Keep A Bad Boy Down

After 15 years and 123 fights Joey Giardello finally got serious about boxing. Result: a new champion

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

After a sinister New York hoodlum and usury kingpin had loaned Giardello $1,000 to bet on the Dodgers, the New York State Athletic Commission became unhappy. Commission members' doubts were not resolved by an occasional lapse of form on Joey's part in what should have been easy fights. The Pennsylvania Athletic Commission suspended the licenses of Carmen Graziano and Tony Ferrante, Giardello's co-managers, for associating with unsavory persons. The New York commission found the managers themselves unsavory—Ferrante's police record was modest, not quite as long as his arm, but it certainly reached his elbow—and it suspended Giardello's license. Since 1957 Giardello has been barred from fighting in New York, and this in turn has kept him off TV (except for the fight with Fullmer in 1960). Injured financially, Giardello finally got rid of his two managers, but New York is not completely convinced even today, and Giardello remains an undesirable in New York rings.

Despite his harsh trade and frustrating career, Giardello is still carefree and unworried. He is a man about town—South Philadelphia, that is, where he has hung out since leaving Brooklyn—and to this heavily Italian section of the city, Joey Giardello is a hero, an easy touch and, until recently anyway, a willing companion. There is always a sizable claque of South Phillyites who make every Giardello fight—an entire train-load turned up in Bozeman, Mont, for the one with Fullmer. There were a hundred times that many Philadelphians in Atlantic City to dance and cheer at last week's decision.

One who resisted the impulse to join in was Dick Tiger. "Ridiculous," he snorted. "How can you win a title by running away?" Guaranteed a rematch in four or five months, Tiger planned to return to Nigeria for a rest. "Then I will come back," he said, "and prove that I am the old Dick Tiger."

The question is whether or not there is really a new Joey Giardello.

1 2