The great boxers with Italian names are there, of course: the two Rockys—Marciano and Graziano—Carmen Basilio, Jake LaMotta. And so are the fighters whose Anglicized names make them sound like interlopers: Willie Pep (Guilermo Papaleo), Lou Ambers (Luigi D' Ambrosio), Joey Maxim (Guiseppe Antonio Berardinelli).
What qualifies one as an Italian-American athlete? Well, says Randazzo, you must have some Italian blood and be able to prove it. What about boxer Mike Rossman, whose real name is DiPiano but who took his mother's maiden name and promotes himself as "The Jewish Bomber"? "I guess in the long run we'll sort of let the athlete himself decide if he wants to join the Hall," says Randazzo.
Someday, one suspects, the American melting pot will make most ethnic delineations obsolete, but Randazzo doesn't expect that to happen soon. He even envisions moving the Hall to a larger building in downtown Chicago and eventually changing the name to The Italian-American Sports and Performing Arts Hall of Fame, which would include entertainers as well as athletes. A few names, George?
"Well, how about Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Durante, Tony Bennett, Vic Damone, Liza Minnelli.... I could go on."
Thank you, George.