The Harder They Fall - Boxing and Pizza!
By Sunset Thomas, Doghouse Boxing (March 2, 2010)  
When you live in Vegas quality boxing is around every corner—not so with pizza, however, as Frankie Gambino often laments. And that was the case until my daughter Betty brought the two together in championship style!

See, Betty attends UNLV and she majors in the hospitality industry. It seems that John Arena Jr. (co-owner of Metro Pizza) was a guest speaker in one of her classes. John is not only a proprietor he’s also something of a pizza professor. And Betty, well she’s something of a tenured pizza aficionado, having been born in New York City and schooled in Little Italy (which meant raised on Lombardi’s Pizza—which was the first in country and in her opinion the best there is).

Anyways, Betty introduced herself after class and John challenged her to come to his pizzeria—the aforementioned Metro Pizza—and give their Margherita pie a shot—and so we did!
Now, before I get ahead of myself I’ve to go give you a little heads up on Betty’s boxing background. In the late 1990’s she was present when the AAIB awarded Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini its Founders Award at Mickey Mantle’s on Central Park South. She hung out with AAIB President Steve Acunto, Carlos Ortiz, Joe Torres and of course Boom Boom himself. She was at Madison Square Garden in 2000 to watch future Heavyweight Champ Lamon Brewster beat Richard Mason, his autographed picture hung on her bedroom wall right there beside Yankee great Bernie Williams. She recited the Pledge of Allegiance in the ring before a UNR boxing event and often hung out in the gym watching Sam Peter train for his fight with Taurus Sykes—in other words the little ring rat has been around the fight game and the pizza game—enough said.

So we go to Metro Pizza (the Decatur location—they’ve got three). Frankie came along grudgingly, convinced that you couldn’t get a decent pie anywhere outside of New York, except maybe, that joint in Frisco—Tommasso’s—which used to be Lupo’s. “Now they can make a pie,” he groused.

We took a seat at the bar, “Nobody can mess up a shot of bourbon,” Frankie, the stick-in-the-mud mumbled, and that’s when we meet John’s father, John Arena Sr.

John and Frankie hit it right off—see John’s folks lived right around the corner from the original Lombardi’s. And John went to school right across the street from the famed Pizzeria. That got Betty talking about the neighborhood—a lot’s changed but a lot is still the same. And Frankie loved the duel Little Italy litanies

Somehow the conversation turned to boxing—which it always does when Frankie and I are in the house and it turned out that John’s father-in-law, Sal Petronella was a fighter himself. Since it wasn’t so easy for Italian fighters to get bouts back in the day, Sal fought under the name Midget Sully (he was a flyweight in the early twenties).

That’s when the conversation got really animated and John mentioned that his childhood buddy was none other than the great Joe Micelli. Now Joe was no slouch—and Frankie knew as much about him as John.

To loyal readers of Dog House Boxing, I hope you’ll all go to and search for Anatomy of an Adult Film, that’s my book—it’s doing well. Anatomy of an Adult Film is a fast-paced read and a sexy romp—I’m sure you’ll love it!
The Hard-boiled murder/mystery novel
Death’s Green Eyes….
“He fought Kid Gavilan at Madison Square Garden,” John boasted.

“Yeah, and he also fought Joey Giardello, Johnny Bratton and Art Aragon,” Frankie added.

“What about Gene Fullmer,” John trumped Frankie. “Heck Joe could fight, only he never really put his heart in it—always carousing…”

“Like Max Baer,” Frankie added. “Natural talent but a lack of discipline,”

“Hey,” John said, “I remember running into Joe at 1am the night before a fight. I asked him, don’t you got a bout tomorrow? And he’s nonchalant. ‘No problem’ he says. That’s the kind of guy he was.”

“I could have been somebody,” I piped in, doing my best Marlon Brando from On the Waterfront.

Anyways, we eventually took a booth in the hip, retro-esque pizza parlor. Frankie wanted to hedge his bet and so he ordered the antipasto tray as a starter. But he quickly warmed up while perusing the menu. First off they honor both Lombardi’s and Tommasso’s and they have pies with names like—Mott St. Bleecker St. Thompson St. Mulberry St. and 4 Corners—Frankie was getting pumped while Betty nodded her head knowingly.

The tray arrived with everything you can imagine—from meats to cheese to garlic olives and red peppers, pepperoncini, the ripest tomatoes, leaves of basil topped with olive oil and balsamic—the works!

When the pies landed on the table like incoming UFO’s Frankie was first to dig in! Ultra thin crust—cooked to perfection. Fresh mozzarella (the real deal) it was sooo yummy. Frankie became an instant fan and toasted Betty and John Sr.

Talk got to young Rocco Santomauro—a fighter I featured in an early piece. Rocco is a good young Italian fighter and Frankie beamed about how he annihilated his last opponent, bringing his record to 2-0 and how next on tap for the bambino is a fight at the Orleans (Las Vegas) on March 12th. “Frank Luca, the kid’s promoter and the man behind Crown Boxing is stepping him up some. He’s set to fight Thomas Herrera—Herrera’s had six fights, so he has the edge in experience,” Frankie explained.

That got me to pipe in about a recent conversation I’d had with Rocco’s conditioning guru Robert Chiodini. Chiodini is excited about two new prospects he’s got in the gym—Anthony Cox, a 160 pounder who has moved to Vegas from Kentucky. Anthony had 30 amateur fights and now he’s turning pro. He’s a beast and he’s been sparring with Ishe Smith and Joshua Juda! Another fighter Robert beamed about was Les Walker, a guy who actually beat Rocco in the amateurs and was ranked the #2 USA Amateur—Chiodini has big hopes for his burgeoning stable of young stallions.
Speaking of Crown Boxing—they’re currently in the works of putting on Evander Holyfield versus Francois Botha here in Vegas. That would be a hoot—a possible pay-per-view and certainly nothing short of a major televised fight. Way to go Crown Boxing!

Anyways, the pie was par-excellence and Frankie and me now know where we can combine the squared circle with the circle of wedges—Metro Pizza, right here in the fight capital of the world—Las Vegas, Nevada!

Loyal DoghouseBoxing readers please check out my book (Anatomy of an Adult Film) and my cohorts hard-boiled murder/mystery novel—Death’s Green Eyes….

To find out more on Frankie Gambino - Please click the link: The Harder They Fall: How I meet Frankie Gambino.

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