Carmine Basilio, born july 7, 1927 in canastota, new york, better known in the boxing world as Carmen , is a former professional boxer of italian-american origin who was a two weight world boxing champion. Some reports have suggested that changed his name from carmine to Carmen before he began boxing, to sound more masculine.
Basilio began his professional boxing career by meeting jimmy evans on november 24 of 1948 in binghamton, new york. He knocked evans out in the third round, and five days later, he beat bruce walters in only one round and by the end of 1948 had completed four bouts.
He started 1949 with two draws, against johnny cunningham on january 5, and against jay perlin 20 days later. Basilio campaigned exclusively inside the state of new york during his first 24 bouts, going 19-3-2 during that span. His first loss was at the hands of connie thies, who beat him, by a decision in 6 on may 2 of '49. He and cunningham had three more fights during that period, with winning by knockout in two on their second meeting, cunningham by a decision in eight in their third and by decision in eight in their fourth.
In the middle of that 24 bout span, 1950 rolled over, and met former world champion lew jenkins, winning by a 10 round decision.
For fight number 25, it was decided that it was time to campaign out west so went to new orleans, where he boxed his next six fights. In his first bout there, he met gaby farland, who held him to a draw. He and farland had a rematch, winning by a knockout in the first round. He also boxed guillermo giminez there twice, first beating him by knockout in eight, and then by knockout in nine. In his last fight before returning home, he lost by a decision in 10 to eddie giosa.
For his next seven bouts, only went 3-3-1, but he was able to avenge his loss to giosa by winning a ten round decision over him in syracuse.
In 1952, went 6-2-1. He beat jimmy cousins among others that year, but he lost to chuck davey and billy graham. The draw he registered that year was against davey in the first of the two meetings they held that year.
But things started to change in 1953. Basilio started winning big fights and soon found his name climbing up the welterweight division's rankings. Soon, he found himself in his first world title fight, against cuba's kid gavilan for gavilan's world welterweight championship. Before fighting against gavilan, he beat former world light-weight champion ike williams, and had two more fights with graham, avenging his earlier loss to graham in the second bout between them with a 12 round decision win, and drawing in the third. Basilio lost a 15 round decision to gavilan and went for a fourth meeting with cunningham, this time winning by a knockout in four. Then, he and french fighter pierre langois began another rivalry, with a 10 round draw in the first bout between the two.
In 1954, went undefeated in eight bouts, going 7-0-1 with 2 knockouts, and defeating langois in their rematch by decision.
1955 arrived and began by beating peter müller by decision. After that, was once again the number one challenger, and on june 10 of that year, he received his second world title try, against world welterweight champion tony demarco. In what has become a favorite fight of classic sports channels such as espn, became world champion by knocking out demarco in the 12th round. Basilio had two non title bouts, including a ten round decision win over gil turner, before he and demarco met again, this time with as the defending world champion. Their second fight had exactly the same result as their first bout: won by a knockout in 12.
For his next fight, in 1956, lost the title in chicago to johnny saxton by a decision in 15. It has always been commented that the reason that saxton got the nod was because he supposedly had ties with chicago's underworld, which, according to the suggestion, might have paid off the fight's judges to give saxton the fight. This has been an unverified rumor which many magazines, ring magazine included, have talked about in the past. In an immediate rematch, which was boxed in syracuse, regained the crown with a nine round knockout, and then, in a rubber match, kept the belt, by a knockout in two.
After that, he went up in weight, and challenged, aging 37 year old, world middleweight champion sugar ray robinson, in what perhaps may have been his most famous fight. He won the middleweight championship of the world by beating robinson in one of the most exciting 15 round decisions in middleweight history, september 23, 1957. The day after, he had to abandon the welterweight belt, according to boxing laws. In 1957 won the hickok belt as top professional athlete of the year.
In 1958, he and robinson met in a rematch on march 25 and robinson barely regained the title with a 15 round contriversial decision. Basilio's left eye was totally swelled shut from the 6th round on and still many of the ringside press thought won this second fight. This too as a split decision just as their first fight was.
From that moment, and until his retirement in 1961, he fought only sporadically, but 3 of his last fights were attempts to recover the world's middleweight title, losing twice to gene fullmer; by a knockout in 14 at san francisco; and by a knockout in 12, in fullmer's home state of utah (in salt lake city), and then also later, when he lost a 10 round decision to defending world champion paul pender.
In between those fights, he was able to beat art aragon, by knockout in eight, and former world welterweight champion don jordan, by decision in ten. His fight with pender for the title, was also his last fight as a professional boxer.
Basilio, who was also a member of the united states marine corps at one point of his life, was able to enjoy his retirement. During the 1970s, his nephew billy backus became world's welterweight champion after having a shaky start to his own boxing career, and declared on the day that backus became champion, that to him, billy winning the title was better than when he won it himself.
In 1990, ed brophy decided to build the international boxing hall of fame in canastota, to honor the two world champions who were born there: and his nephew. Although backus isn't a member of the hall of fame, is, along with many of the fighters he met inside the ring.
In the late 1990s, became seriously ill, and he required triple bypass heart surgery. Doctors were able to repair his heart. Basilio had a ring record of 56 wins, 16 losses and 7 draws, with 27 wins by knockout.
Following his esteemed career as a fighter, worked for a time at the genesee brewery in rochester, ny.
Basilio was interviewed for an hbo documentary on sugar ray robinson called "the dark side of a champion". He mentioned that although he respected robinson's talents in the ring, he did not like him at all as a person. He called him a "son of a bitch" and said he was the most arrogant, unpleasant person that you would ever want to meet.
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Carmen Basilio autograph