Philly Fighters Who’s Careers Were Cut Short! By Ken Hissner (July 15, 2010) Doghouse Boxing
I did a separate story on 5 Philly fighters whose careers were cut short in “Gypsy Joe” Harris, James Shuler, Tyrone Everett, Wesley Mouzon and Dick Turner. In doing my research I came across many more. There were accidents, frustrations, shootings and deaths to name a few reasons! I’ve taken about 20 boxers from Philly and the area that came to mind over a stretch of over 50 years going back to 1951.
I’ve tried to reach out to the fighters of this story to hear the reason right out of their own mouths, but it wasn’t always the case. After all, some are no longer with us. Whether it was their trainers, managers, promoters, friends, family and simply fans the reasons did certainly vary.
One of the obvious was the motorcycle death of ANDRE PROPHET who was born in 1968 and died in 1988. “Andre Prophet had incredible potential, good size, good punch and was learning when he was killed. I used to watch him and “Prince” Charles Williams go at it in the old Champs gym off Ridge above 23rd. They were toe to toe and it was hard to tell which one was the IBF champ,” said J. Russell Peltz. “He could fight,” said Dick Turner. “We had a deal with a major television network when he was killed,” said Dwight Triplett. “Me and Andre lived around the same area for sometime in the early 80’s. He was a skinny guy who had a lot of heart and this was before he became a fighter. I remember around 1984 in front of a restaurant on the corner of Cumberland & Chadwick he was fist fighting a much bigger and older guy who was one of our old head’s. Well of course Andre knocked him down and whipped him,” said “Rockin” Rodney Moore. “I asked him if he ever considered boxing, for I was in my second or third year as a pro, and he said no. Indeed he started going into the gym a few years later when I started hearing the rumors that he could fight. As you can figure out the rest is history,” he added. His career was barely more than a year. He was managed by Scott Kendall. Final record: 12-0-1 (10) 1987-88 DOB: 2-17-68 Death: 8-13-88
Going back to 1954 when MICKEY ROSATI turned pro it was something he never envisioned. “I didn’t want to turn pro. Carmen Graziano talked my dad into it,” said Rosati. He won his 7th straight fight since turning pro in March of 1954 beating Clifton Bradley, 4-1-2. All his fights were in Philly.Then he went to St. Nicholas Arena in New York and fought to a draw with Charlie Slaughter, 20-18-5, who had just fought former champion Sandy Saddler in his previous fight. Rosati ended his career defeating Jethro Cason, 6-1, in his first 8 rounder in April of 1955. “I just couldn’t get into it and that is why I never tried talking my son Mickey into turning pro,” he added. Rosati still runs Mickey’s Auto Repair at 1937 S. Chadwick St. in South Philly.Young Mickey handles the every day business. I stopped by there several months ago to talk to him and his son. They still have the gym above the garage. Rosati is one of the nicest guys you will ever want to meet. The kind of a guy you never heard a bad word about. Young Mickey (1981 PA GG 132 champ) always wondered what if….. he, Billy Uhl and Jerry Owens were all in the same gym trained by Sr. Only Owens turned pro years later. Final record: 11-0-1 (3) 1954-55 DOB: 2-28-33
Speaking of JERRY OWENS, he turned pro January of 1989 in Atlantic City. He was no longer fighting at 112 but now at 128 (112 1983 PA GG champ). After two wins in Jersey he fought to a draw at the Civic Center with King Solomon, 2-0-2, over 4 rounds. A win over Freddie Liberatore would follow. Liberatore would end his career losing in a title bout in 1995. Owens was the only one to beat him in his 12 fights which included a win over Solomon. Speaking of Solomon again, it was his only loss. Two more fight’s followed for Owens in January of 1990 including his only knockout and it was at the Blue Horizon. His career lasted just days over a year. Final record: 5-0-1 (1) 1989-1990
DOB: 1964 DIED: June 2009
I never intended to write about KING SOLOMON (born 1965) but when I looked up his record after drawing with Jerry Owens I was surprised to see his career only lasted for 11 fights though over a 5 year period. He was 1984 119 PA GG champ. He turned pro drawing with Tony Green in 1988 at the Blue Horizon. Green was 10-1-1 at the beginning of his career and never re-matched with Solomon. He would fight for a world title in 1995. For Solomon it was draw, win, draw, win, draw and then the loss to Liberatore in 1989 right after drawing with Owens. He had a couple of split decision wins with a majority one sandwiched in there. Oh yeah, by the way did I mention the second split win was over a guy named Arturo Gatti, 6-0, at the Blue Horizon in November of 1992? Just 5 months later Solomon would end up with a win in Hamilton Township, New Jersey on April 16th of 1993. Final record: 7-1-3 (0) 1988-93
Anther big man was DONNIE RAY SHERMAN who turned pro in October of 1967 with a 1st round knockout over Ed Williams who ended up 10-2-1 (8) only losing by knockout to Sherman. Sherman would stop fighting in May of 1968 unbeaten but made a comeback 10 years later in February of 1978 losing for the only time since he retired after that loss to Terry Mims, 4-0. Final record: 4-1-1 (2) 1967-68 and 1978 DOB? DIED?
There were brothers who did well in the amateurs but things went wrong in the professional ranks. Let’s start with ROLAND “TWO GUN” COOLEY who first won the PA GG title in 1978 and took the National GG title the following year while staying in the amateurs winning the PA GG title in 1980 hoping for an Olympic birth. As we all know there were no Olympics for the USA that year. Cooley turned pro in November of 1980 at the Felt Forum in New York winning a 4 round decision. His teammate James Shuler was having his third fight on the card. Cooley won 3 of his first 4 fights at the Felt Forum with his second bout at the Philly Civic Center. He won a bout in Las Vegas before going back to the Felt Forum defeating David Brown, 5-5-1, who had won 5 of his last 6 fights. In September of 1981 he defeated Danny Cruz, 11-7, on the under card of Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns. Next in what would be his second and last fight in Philly he scored his first knockout in his 8th fight. He would travel to Chicago, Atlantic City and back to the Felt Forum winning all by decision. In June of 1982 he lost for the first and only time of his career to Hector Sanchez, 5-2, over 8 rounds at the Felt Forum. Sanchez had won 4 straight by knockout prior to this. On October 23rd in 1982 Cooley would have his last fight again defeating Tirso Marte over 8 rounds on the under card of two Olympians when James Shuler defeated “Sugar” Ray Seales at McAfee, New Jersey. His career came to and end upon receiving a gun shot wound. Final record: 13-1 (2) 1980-82
Roland’s brother RON COOLEY was the 1984 and 1985 PA GG champ turning professional in 1986 defeating Antonio Diaz, 0-1, over 4 rounds in Pennsauken, New Jersey. His next 3 wins would be in Philly at the Blue Horizon and J&A Caterers. In October of 1988 he won a split decision over Ruben Nevarez, 2-0. He followed this up with a win over Patrick Simeon, 4-1, both in Atlantic City. Cooley stopped Anthony Perez, 2-0, at the Blue Horizon. It would be the only loss for Perez in his first 7 fights. Next up Cooley defeated Alberto Mercado, 0-1-1 in Atlantic City in July of 1990. He wouldn’t fight again until March of 1994 when he came back in a main event 6 rounder in Philly to defeat Tim Lee, 2-4-3. Lee would draw with David Toledo, 9-1, a month later. Born in 1963, this would be Cooley’s last fight. “I believe Ronnie wanted to carry on the Cooley name after his brother’s career ended. He was more interested in playing football and lost his desire to box”, said Roland Cooley, Sr. Final record: 9-0 (2) 1986-1990 and 1994 DOB: 5-9-63
Roland Cooley, Sr. trained RONALD HAMMOND who turned pro in May of 1988 defeating Heriberto Quintero, in Atlantic City by decision. In his third bout he drew with Jake Rodriguez, who would later be in title bouts with Kostaya Tszyu and Pernell Whitaker. In May of 1989 he stopped Anthony Ross, 4-2, in Atlantic City. In July of 1990 he defeated future light middleweight champion Keith Holmes, 7-0, at the Blue Horizon. He would suffer his first defeat in his next bout losing to Frank Montgomery, 13-5-1, over 8 rounds at the Blue Horizon. After back to back wins he would lose for the second time to Rueben Bell, 10-0, over 8 rounds at Secaucus, New Jersey. Hammond would end his career defeating Leo Edwards, 8-5, at the Blue Horizon in February of 1995. “He was thumbed in a sparring session and blurred vision ended his career,” said Cooley, Sr. Final record: 12-2-1 (5) 1988-1995 DOB: 11-28-65
Going way back in the 50’s there is CARMEN “BARTSY” BARTOLEMO who turned pro at the old Toppi Stadium in Philly with a 1st round knockout over Joe Melito. “I won a PAL title and my trainer converted me to right handed until I got knocked down in a fight and got up southpaw to win the fight,” said Bartolemo. Winning 5 of his first 6 fights by knockout including a scheduled 7 rounder stopping Earl Clemmons, 14-6-1 in 4 rounds. This was followed up with a 7 round decision over Charley Cummings, 3-1. The only loss on his record was in his 10th fight losing in Chicago to Carlo Sarlo, 7-0. “I don’t like make excuses but I was fighting main events and go there expecting a 6 or 8 round fight and it ended up a 4. By the time I got started the fight was over,” said Bartolemo. He lost the decision. “My toughest opponent was Jake Josato, 7-3-2, whom I fought a draw with at the Plaza. My friends were throwing chairs. In the rematch I won a split decision in 8 at the Met (Metropolitan Opera House). “Harold Johnson’s brother-in-law Ike White, 5-15-3, was a rough fight. He would use his head a lot,” he added. His trainer was Tony Cocco and Tony Morgano his manager. “My favorite fighter was Tommy Loughran. He could have been a movie star. He would have a suit and tie and was really good with the fans,” said Bartolemo. “Jimmy Carlini, Dan Bucceroni and Frankie Sodano and I would go running in the morning. We would stop for Joey Giardello and he would yell out the window he would run twice tomorrow,” he added. I fell off a scaffle 30-40 feet. I had a pinched nerve in my elbow and was told to get complete rest,” said Bartolemo. “It ended my career but while in the hospital a girl I was dating brought her girl friend along. I would later marry the girl friend so it worked out all right,” he added. Final record: 19-1-1 (8) 1953-55 DOB: 3-20-35
Speaking of one of Bartolemo’s running mates was JIMMY CARLINI. They were neighbors. Odd thing is Carlini turned pro beating Chico Corsey, 1-6, July 30th, 1930 while Bartolemo ended his career beating Corsey March 22nd 1955. Both were decision wins. Carlini followed this fight up with 6 straight knockouts and winning a pair of 8 round decisions. In September of 1952 in his biggest fight he won a split decision in 10 over Don Braun, 17-3-1, at Wilmington Park, Delaware. Both set a terrific pace that kept the crowd yelling throughout the last two rounds. Carlini had hurt his hand early in this fight. Braun would go on to win his next 8 fights. In his next fight he ended the career of George Burroughs, 11-16-2 in Brooklyn. He would return to New York for his next 6 fights, all wins except a draw with Larry Baker, 6-2-1, in December of 1952. He would win the rematch 6 weeks later. In January of 1954 Carlini would fight his final fight defeating Johnny Cooke, 9-4, at the Cambria A.C. with a 7 round decision. Cooke would defeat 3 unbeaten fighters after this in Johnny Gentile, Jake Josato and Rocky Petrolle. His trainer was Joe Yankenelli and manager Irv Cohen. Carlini slipped down a ladder while on ship and injured his back ending his career. He would later become a police Captain. Final record: 20-0-1 (7) 1951-54 DOB 12-15-30
One of J. Russell Peltz favorites was WILLIAM “THE HAMMER” JONES. No relation to his current top fighter, Michael “MJ” Jones. This Jones was 17-2 in the amateurs winning a Diamond GG belt before moving onto to the pro ranks under Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts and Augie Smeca. In April of 1989 he started a string of 5 straight knockouts rounding out the year. In 1990 5 more wins followed with 3 by knockout. In October of 1990 came whom he calls “my toughest opponent was Willie Taylor,” said Jones. Jones was down in the 4th round while coming back to drop Taylor twice in the 5th bringing about the stoppage by the referee. Taylor, 10-9-1, had been in with Rodney Moore and Buddy McGirt prior to this. Jones had an 8 straight knockout streak finishing with Panama’s Rafael Williams, 31-8, in 4 rounds at the Blue Horizon in July of 1991. His next bout went the 8 round distance beating Reggie Little, 4-0-1, of DC. Two fights later in March of 1992 he would stop Tim Rabon, 13-7-2, at the Blue Horizon. Rabon had fought to a draw with Chad Parker, 19-0-1, and lost fighting for the IBC welter title over 12 rounds to Jeff Malcolm, 77-21-10. In his next fight he took on fellow Philly fighter Eric Holland, 8-13-3, who had a win the previous year over former world champion Buster Drayton. “I had been thumbed in training and had a bruised eye but didn’t mention it to anyone,” said Jones. He was unbeaten in 11 fights at the Blue Horizon. He would lose this fight over 8 rounds by decision. In 1993 he scored two quick knockouts. In 1994 he wanted to reverse the loss to Holland. “I had hoped the eye would heal itself but it didn’t. I knew I would need an operation but felt I could knockout Holland,” said Jones. “I went all out and tired by the 9th round when it was stopped,” he said. I got operated on in 1996 and joined the police force in 1998 and have been there for 11 years now,” said Jones. Final record: 21-2 (17) 1989-94 DOB 10-15-69
A fighter you don’t usually hear about was DAN DAVIS who won the 1991 National Golden Gloves title at #106. He would turn professional in September of 1992 scoring a 1st round knockout. In his next fight he defeated Richard DeJesus, 2-1, who had lost to Arturo Gatti and later in his career split with former IBF bantamweight champion Orlando Canizales. He would be inactive for 2 ½ years. Upon returning Davis defeated Gordon Trotman, 7-4, of Guyana. There would follow a 4 year lay-off coming back in 1999 to score a knockout. In March of 2000 he would fight Debind Thapa, 10-0, at the Blue Horizon with the fighting ending in the 2nd round of a 6 called a no contest. Thapa would next defeat Rogers Mtagwa. In August Davis would again meet Thapa and be stopped in the 5th round in Atlantic City and never fight again. Final record: 4-1 (2) DOB 1-07-68
I can still see him with that jeff cap, MONTY SHERRICK, AKA Belmont Farley. An outstanding amateur, who was long, lean and able to box your ears off. “If he only had a punch he’d be a champ,” said his trainer John Mulvenna. His amateur record was 86-16 having won the Eastern Olympic Trials. He boxed out of the Front Street Gym. His manager was Pat Duffy. Turning professional in October of 1984 he won his first three fights with the last one a majority decision over Benny Torres, 0-0-1, in Atlantic City. He would step up to the 6 round bouts in only his fourth fight. Right after that he defeated Levi Elbaum, 3-2, a Puerto Rican kid who took the name from matchmaker Don Elbaum. In July of 1985 he stopped Junior Walker, 2-2, in the 4th round at the Golden Eagle. He had earlier scored a knockdown in the 3rd round. This was not Junior of Junior Walker and the All Stars. In September he won a majority decision over Tim Moley, 4-3-2, in Atlantic City. Moley would go on to win 7 of his next 8 fights. His final bout would be on November 11th of 1985 defeating William Martinez, 5-5, in his first 8 rounder. Martinez had just lost to future world champion Calvin Grove. Sherrick had 10 fights in a 13 month span. He was in the Carpenters Union #1856 as an apprentice. “I was a journeyman, foreman and have moved up to be on the Executive Board and have gotten half a dozen former boxers jobs,’ said Sherrick Final record: 10- (2) DOB: 1-3-66
There was another unbeaten boxer who only scored one knockout in his six bout career and that was southpaw BRIAN SCHRACK. He had won the PA GG title in 1995 at #119 and in 1997 at #125. He would turn professional in March of 2000 defeating Coy Gibson, 1-3, over 4 rounds. His only knockout was over Philippe Gandus of France. Then he defeated Dominican Jose Angeles. His last 3 fights were all 6 rounder’s with Elio Rodriguez, 6-2, his biggest win in December of 2000. His final fight was on March 16th. Six fights in less than a year and he retired. Final record: 6-0 (1) DOB: 11-04-77
A fighter with numerous amateur titles was NUNZIO CARTO winning the 1944, 45 and 46 the Diamond Belt. He added the 1944 and 1945 Golden Gloves titles. He turned pro in 1946 in the lightweight division stopping Jorge Rocco, in the 2nd round in Allentown and following up with two more knockout wins. He had 7 wins in 1946 and was 9-1 in 1947. That year he had his 10 fight unbeaten streak stopped by Jesse Watson, 9-10-1, when he was stopped at the Arena. Less than 3 months later Carto won the rematch stopping Watson in the 1st round. On October 11th of 1948 Carto had his last fight beating Eddie Holtz, 13-5-1. Final Record: 20-1 (9)
One of the top trainers today is WADE HINNANT who had a nice career until an eye injury occurred after his first bout. He turned pro after a 35-5 amateur career for the ABC recreation at 26th and Masters under Walt Heddon. His manager’s were Irv Madnick and Pat Duffy. On June 2nd of 1975 he won his first fight over Lenny Rains weighing 126. It was only his 5th fight when he was fighting 8 rounds. In his 9th fight he fought Ray Fields winning a split decision. “It was one of my toughest fights. I over trained and could hardly keeping my hands up when I broke my left hand in the 3rd round. I finished the fight southpaw,” said Hinnant. In 1978 he posted wins over Johnny Copeland and Norman Goins pushing his unbeaten streak to 12. “I lost a split decision to Rufus Miller, 9-4-1, but thought I won,” he added. A win over Mike Everett earned a bout with future world champion Bruce Curry, losing a split decision. We had a clash of heads early and the side of my head was like a grapefruit. I showed him too much respect and lost the fight,” said Hinnant. A win would follow in January 1979, but he would never fight again. “The eye just got too bad,” he said. In 1993 he started training fighters at the Champs Gym until 2001. He trained Curtis Barker and now he and his brother Randy train Chazz Witherspoon, Lajuan Simon, Teon Kennedy and Dennis Hasson at Joe Hand’s Gym. “I belonged to Local 30 Roofers and owe a lot to Steve Traitz,” said Hinnant. He spent almost 20 years with the union. Final Record: 14-2 (6). DOB: 1/24/59
In the 50’s EDDIE CORMA beat some good fighters like Tony Celano, 12-1, Tommy Reed, 16-7, Chicken Rubin, 9-0 and Bobby Douglas, 9-2-1. His only loss was in his seventeenth fight and fifth New York appearance losing to top contender Paolo Rossi, 18-3, in Madison Square Garden, in the 7th round of a scheduled eight. He boxed from 1954 to 1960 finishing up with an 18-1 (8), record.
These were 17 boxers with a total record of 181-13-9 (75). Others under consideration were: Joey Traitz, 2-0 (2), car accident, Lonnie Jackson, Sr. 3-0 (3) couldn’t get the weight off, Damon Feldman 9-0 (4) car accident, Mike Rafferty 9-1-1 (4), now a police officer and manager of Grays Ferry Boxing Club, Rich Mendel 2-0 (2) to become a surgeon, Jimmy Shedrick 7-0-3 (4), now a trainer retired over a contract dispute and Genaro “Gerry” Pellegrini, Jr., 1-0 (1), a police officer, killed in Iraq, serving with the Army.
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