By Ted Sares
Many families have had more than one member become famous in the sport of boxing. Some of them have even had multiple world champions. This is about five sets of boxing brothers...with each vignette featuring just a bit of twist and/or irony.
1) Giuseppe "Joey" LaMotta, brother of Giacobe "Jake" LaMotta, was one of my favorites. His record was 32-5-2 with 22 KOs, only one stoppage loss.But get this! His career was only 21 months long, but in those 21 months, he had 39 fights! He usually had a fight a week. He once had two fights in two days winning both by early ko's! He was one active fighter. Probably the best he ever fought was Anton Raadik out of Chicago. He was, on paper at least, Jake's manager. But in the film, "Raging Bull," Joey (played by Joe Pesci) is a complex and composite character -- a little bit Joey, and a whole lot Jake's best friend, Pete Petrella. Many of the things that happen between Jake and Joey in the film actually happened between Jake and Pete in real life (as La Motta reveals in his autobiography) -- the arguments and jealousy about women, about the mob, etc. Even the "breakup" and reconciliation with Joey actually happened In real life with Pete.
2) Ernie "Indian Red" Lopez was the brother of Danny "Little Red" Lopez and was quite a fighter in his own right. "Indian Red," 47 (23 ko's) -12 - 1 was a contender for several years during the mid 60's, but losses at crucial times prevented him from getting a title shot. His brother, "Little Red," did become featherweight champion. Among others, Ernie fought Emile Griffith (twice) and Hedgemon Lewis (3 times). After ten years of drifting throughout America making it from moment to moment, he was found in a Texas homeless shelter and brought back to California where he was inducted into that state's Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004. Of his time out there, Ernie says: "I've been all over the United States. Might have missed a few states, but it's sure a nice place.....but I never stayed too long anywhere." Now that he back with his wife in Los Angeles, his life on the road and along the streets may well be over. Let's hope so.
3) Robbie Sims, 38 (26 ko's) - 10 - 2, and half brother of Marvelous Marvin Hagler was a vastly under rated fighter who beat such top opposition as Iran Barkley, Doug DeWitt, Teddy Mann, Roberto Duran, Ralph Moncrief, Tony Chiaverini and John Collins. He also drew with Murray Sutherland. The only stoppage in his fine was sustained against Nigel Benn. Inmy view, Robbie Sims was an excellent fighter who waited too long to get a major title shot. Sims was a top contender for a very long time but took back seat to his brother's accomplishments and reputation. Ironically, what could very well of held Robbie Sims back was that he fought during the Marvin Hagler era in the middleweight division.
4) Joe Gatti once lost to the the current trainer of his brother, Arturo Gatti. Joe had a fine record of 30 (22 ko's) - 8 but would lose every time he stepped up against tougher competition...guys like Sven Ottke, James "Buddy McGirt, Rafael Williams, and Terry Norris (this was for the WBC Light Middleweight Title and Joe was brutally ko'd in one). However, his one day in the sun came in 2001 when he dismantled Alex Hilton, 37-6 coming in, (and from another famous Canadian boxing family) in 5 at the Molson Center in Montreal and I had the good fortune to be there. Hilton, who was involved in a highly publicized domestic dispute was loudly booed. As well, there had been bad blood between Joe and the Hiltons. But after the fight, Alex and Joe embraced in mid ring the crowd rose and roared its approval. It was quite an emotional evening at the Center. C'est bon!Joe would go on to stop Tim Shocks before ending his career with a valiant effort against the formidable Ottke in 2002 in Leipzig, Germany.
5) Rodney Bobick, brother of Duane, had a fine record of 38 (18 ko's) -7, and was only stopped once in his career...by Larry Holmes in 1975. Among his victims were Pedro Agosto, Ron 'The Butcher" Stander, Mike Weaver, Vicente Rondon, Terry Hinke, Pat Duncan, and South African Mike Schutte. He was Tko'd by Larry Holmes in the under card of the "Thrilla in Manila," which gave Larry some consolation for having lost to Duane in the armatures. Sadly, Rodney was killed in a single car accident at the age of 26 cutting short his promising career.
Many fans often got the brothers mixed up, but it was Duane, 48 (40 ko's) - 4, who fought at a higher level. Like Tommy Morrison, Duane brought excitement into the ring. His many accomplishments include a Gold medal in 1971 at the Pan Am Games, winning the National Golden Gloves heavyweight championship in 1972 and being a member of the 1972 Olympic team.As a pro, he usually would ice his opponent or be iced. In fact, all four of his losses came by way of stoppages...two by first round ko's by John Tate and Ken Norton, respectively. But to his credit, he managed to beat Scott LeDoux, Chuck Wepner, Mike Schutte, Bunny Johnson, Randy Neumann, George Scrap Iron Johnson, Mike Weaver, Pat Duncan, and Tom Prater all by stoppage. Sadly, in an industrial accident in a Minnesota paper mill, most of the bones in his right arm were crushed and he lost the index finger on that hand. He may never regain full range of motion in his wrist.
As an interesting aside, the great Teófilo Stevenson, representing Cuba, was the first boxer to win the gold medal in the same division three times. Competing in what is now known as the super-heavyweight division, Stevenson began his Olympic career at the 1972 Munich Games. At the previous year's Pan American Games, Stevenson had been defeated by none other than Duane Bobick. This time he met Bobick in the quarterfinals and stopped him in the third round. Still, a great accomplishment for Duane. Another of his great amateur victories was the aformentioned decision over future heavyweight champion Larry Holmes.
The number of other prominent boxing brothers is too numerous to list equally interest stories await.