Inducted on November 14, 1996
Al Reid first entered the ring at the age of 15 in 1932, mostly at smokers. A pugilist from the word go, his friends nicknamed him “Diablo.” At the age of 16 he joined the Amateur Ranks boxing in the Golden Gloves. After a hitch in the CCC camps, A1 turned pro in 1935. Standing 5’4″ and weighing 123 pounds, AI used speed and finesse instead of knockout power in beating the best of his time. He quickly rose through the ranks to become a top featherweight contender, racking up an official 60-28-12 record.
AI’s boxing card was a virtual Who’s Who of the pre-World War II era. Among his most memorable opponents were: Mike Belloise; Pete Scalzo; Sal Bartolo; Kid Chocolate; Chalky Wright; Beau Jack; Vince Del Orto (the Italian Featherweight Champion); Hank Nakamura (the Japanese Champion); Nat Lifton; Bernie Freidkin; Mickey Farber; Terry Young; Bobby Ruffin; Joey Fontana, Young Jack Sharkey; Leo Rodak; Johnny Pena; Maxie Shapiro; Johnny DeFoe; Joe Marinello; Nicky Jerome; and many others. In all he boxed 6 World Champions. One of the highlights of his career was the night he drew with Mike Belloise in fiont of 14,000 fans at the New York Coliseum. He would fight Belloise 3 times, drawing twice and losing the grudge match.
AI once told a reporter: “The biggest thrill I had in boxing was the night I boxed Maxie Shapiro at the Garden. Maxie was undefeated in 40 bouts and a 3 to 1 favorite. I bet a hundred dollars on myself, got myself in good shape and beat Maxie, but not until after the fight was over did I get the decision, the fight was called a draw, but the fans kept booing and after a recount of the official’s cards they found out a mistake had been made, and awarded the decision to me. It was the first time a decision had been changed the same night at the Garden.” On November 18th, 1941, AI fought his last bout against Joe Marinello. The following day he entered the United States Coast Guard and served 5 years.
After the war, Al continued to be active in the boxing world. He was appointed a judge with the New York State Athletic Commission, a position he held until his death in 1993. During his tenure as a judge he “got to see 3 generations of professional fighters from his ringside seat,” judging many contenders and world champions. Al loved boxing and shared his love of the sport with the hundreds of youngsters he trained at the PAL and other youth organizations including the famous Henry Street Settlement. “Get your anger out in the ring, stay on the straight and narrow, it’s not winning it’s how you play the game, you gotta be a good sportsman, always play by the rules.” These were words he repeated over and over again to indigent youngsters picked from the streets of New York, many of whom would become world famous fighters and champions in their own right.
AI was a founding member of Ring No.8 in New York and served as its president in 1976. He was active in many boxing organizations throughout the nation and became an advocate of safety in the ring and health benefits and pensions for professional boxers. To that end he worked diligently to establish free physicals for fighters and boxing officials in New York State. He was also instrumental in building the Ray Arcel Health Center for boxers in New York City. He was politically active with the Queens, New York, Democratic Club and was an elected board member.
Al is survived by his wife Katherine, his children Spencer and Francine, his daughter-in-law Debra, son-in-law Jay, and grandsons, Benjamin and Alex.
- Al Reid was a first class featherweight and contender who never got a title shot.
- He was ranked as high as the #3 featherweight in the world by Ring magazine between 1937 and 1940.
- He is to be distinquished from the Al Reid of South Carolina.
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