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Carmen Basilio was born in Canastota, New York, on April 2, 1927. Carmen’s interest in boxing began at age eight, when his father gave him his first pair of boxing gloves.
His brilliant pro career began in 1948 and lasted until 1961. Carmen’s first prominent victory was against the former lightweight champion Lou Jenkins in 1950. His next major win was against former lightweight great, and hall of fame member, Ike Williams in 1953. He won the New York State Welterweight title in June 1953 via 12 round decision against Billy Graham. Two years later, June 10, 1955, in Syracuse, New York, Carmen won the Welterweight Championship of the World by stopping the reigning Champion Tony DeMarco in the twelfth round. On September 23, 1957, in Yankee Stadium, Carmen became the World Middleweight Champion by upsetting the great Sugar Ray Robinson via a split decision after fifteen brutal rounds. Basilio retired three days after his unsuccessful attempt to recapture the Middleweight title against Paul Pender on April 22, 1961. Pender won a hard fought fifteen round decision. Basilio’s final ring record was 56-16-7 (27 K.O.’s).
During an interview, Carmen was asked, “Looking back on your career, what would you consider your shining moment? His reply: “Every time you win a fight is a shining moment.”
In June of 1990, Carmen Basilio became a member of the first group of inductees inaugurated into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, in his hometown of Canastota, New York.
Carmen Basilio’s career as a Physical Education Instructor began in 1961 at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York, and lasted until 1981. While instructing at LeMoyne, he also worked in Public Relations for the Genesee Brewery, Rochester, New York. In 1981 he became a Full-time employee of the Genesee Brewery, acting as their Sports Activities Director. He continues in this capacity still.
Carmen Basilio resides in Rochester, New York, with his lovely wife Josephine.