Irondequoit (WSYR-TV) – Boxing legend and Central New York native Carmen Basilio has passed away, according to the Boxing Hall of Fame.
The legendary fighter was 85 years old.
Basilio was well known for taking a title from boxing great Sugar Ray Robinson back in 1957 and for keeping boxing fans around the world on their toes.
Basilio passed away at a Rochester hospital where he was being treated for pneumonia.
Basilio’s presence looms large over the Boxing Hall of Fame.
“His spirit will live on. He energized us so much over the years; a big supporter to have the Boxing Hall of Fame in his hometown of Canastota,” said Executive Director of the International Boxing Hall of Fame Ed Brophy.
"His dream was to fight for a World Championship, someday fight in Yankee Stadium, he loved the Yankees and maybe possibly to come out of the Yankee's dugout. Carmen Basilio fought Ray Robinson at Yankee Stadium in 1957, he requested the Yankees dugout. He's walking out with tears from his eyes, his boyhood dream is coming true and then he beats Ray Robinson for the Middleweight title,” Brophy continued.
The War Memorial was a hotbed for sports in the 1950s. Basilio won the first two of his three world boxing titles there.
“Carmen Basilio, he would go out and slug and fight, he gave everybody a great fight on those Friday night fights in the 1950's. That was a certain special time, the era of the 1950's, Carmen was on top of the world,” Brophy said.
Fighter and Athlete of the Year in 1957, Basilio was five times in the fight of the year at a time when boxing was king. Basilio was royalty in the world of boxing.
After his career in the ring, Basilio was a physical education instructor at LeMoyne College for 20 years and also did public relations for Genesee Beer. His nephew Billy Backus held the Welterweight title in the 1970's.
The Boxing Hall of Fame posted on its website that its flags would fly at half staff in memory of Basilio.