Remembering a true champion: Joey Giambra

Former middleweight contender Joey Giambra

Buffalo, New York, native and 1950s and ’60s middleweight contender Joey Giambra sadly passed away on March 2, at the age of 86, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

Giambra, 65-10-2 (31), was an outstanding middleweight contender throughout his 77-bout career that saw him challenge, and defeat, many of boxing’s very best in an era of legendary middleweights. Although he sustained 10 professional losses, not a single one was via stoppage.

 

Giambra defeated Philadelphia middleweight champion, and Hall of Fame legend, Joey Giardello in two of their three meetings.

 

Giambra would also face Rocky Castellani, Ralph “Tiger” Jones, Florentino Fernandez, Bernard Docusen, Ralph “Tiger” Jones, Rory Calhoun, Gil Turner, Chico Vejar, Al Andrews, Danny Womber, Pat Lowry, Jimmy Welch, Johnny Sullivan, Jimmy Herring, Sal DiMartino, Italo Scortichini and Charley Early during an outstanding 14-year run in the professional ranks.

 

As a young boy, the 13th of 14 children, Giambra grew up on the mean streets of the Italian ghetto in Buffalo, New York.

 

Giambra would turn pro in the summer of 1949 and make 33 in-ring television appearances throughout a career that saw him beat some of the very best middleweights of his time.

 

He would retire with a ledger that saw him defeat some of boxing’s all-time great middleweights, face dozens of contenders and champions and see him challenge for the middleweight championship of the world.

 

After Giambra lost a very questionable unanimous decision to then-champion “Bobo” Olson in 1955, in a non-title bout, many fans referred to Joey as the “uncrowned middleweight champion.”

 

Giambra defeated many fighters who would go on to fight for the world title but he himself was denied a shot until late in his career, when he faced off against Denny Moyer for the inaugural WBA junior middleweight title in Moyer’s hometown of Portland, Oregon, in October of 1962.

 

Giambra would fight two more times after the Moyer defeat, a unanimous decision loss, before retiring in the spring of 1963.

 

When the 17-year-old Giambra turned pro in 1949, many said he looked more like a movie star than he did a fighter. However over the next 14 years, he would go on to prove he was indeed a fighter – and one of the great middleweight contenders of his time.

 

Gone but never forgotten.

 

Rest in peace, champ!

 

 

 

Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at hwtibbs@shaw.ca and you can follow him at twitter.com/tibbs_bill.

 

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