NJ Boxing HOF

CHARLEY FUSARI

THE IRVINGTON MILKMAN-CHARLEY FUSARI NEW JERSEY'S GOLDEN BOY

By: Bob Fernandez, Sr.

It would be impossible to write about New Jersey Boxing and the great boxers the State produced and 
not include the Irvington Milkman-Charley Fusari. He never won a championship but if ever there was 
a Golden Boy he was it. He had Hollywood leading man good looks. This handsome blonde 
Italian-American was very popular with the fans. Men were won over to him by his power punches plus 
his will to win along with large amounts of courage and heart. Charley gave 100% of himself every 
time he stepped through the ropes. Never in a dull fight. The women fans just liked to look at him. 

Charley was a welterweight, slim yet well muscled for his frame. The 147 pounder always appeared in 
public well dressed and neat in appearance. We the fans saw him as soft spoken, well behaved, and 
very articulate. He treated his fans with respect as he did his opponents. There was no braggart or 
loud foul mouth behavior that sorrowfully we see in some of today' s superstars. Charley was down to 
earth and he became Jersey's star. Even when his career hit the heights Charley never got a swelled 
head. The young man had class and charisma. He became a role model to young fighters coming up.

This writer never knew Fusari personally nor have I interviewed him. I write this sketch of him as 
his fan who followed his career from the first time I ever heard of him. All a loyal fan can learn 
of his hero is to attend his fights when and if possible. Catch his TV fights. Read all you can find 
on him. If possible visit his training camp and of course keep rooting for him. I can only offer the 
reader the things I learned about Charley's Boxing career. His personal life aside, we will focus on 
only the boxing side that we know.

We do know Charley was born in Acamo, Sicily, Italy in 1924. He came to America at a very young age. 
His family settled in Irvington, New Jersey. Charley had an older brother who began boxing and 
Charley took up after him. Tommy Fusari started fighting professionally at the New Jersey clubs on 
the undercards. Charley entered the amateur ranks briefly and then turned pro in May of 1944 at age 
nineteen. Older brother Tommy's career fizzled while Charley's caught on. Young Charley had a job on 
a milk delivery truck and claimed his good conditioning came from the many thousands of stairs he'd 
climbed and the running involved in delivering the bottles of milk. This caught on with boxing 
writers and the name Irvington Milkman was born.

As a youngster of twelve, I remember vividly the year 1945. I kept seeing fight Dosters around town. 
Some were put in store and bar windows. Others were nailed to telephone poles or tacked on to 
nonresidential buildings. To explain their existence one had to know our town Elizabeth, New Jersey. 
We had a local promoter; his name was George "Korn" Kobb. He should be enshrined in the Boxing Hall 
of Fame. He made Elizabeth a boxing town and developed on his boxing cards some of the great names 
of the day. Kobb ran weekly fights at the Elizabeth Armory and at Twin City Bowl on the Newark 
Elizabeth city line. Before that he had run shows at tiny Scott Hall in downtown Elizabeth. Some 
bright stars got their start at Scott Hall such as Rocky Graziano, Joe Baksi, Freddy Archer, Freddy 
Russo, Frankie Duane, Clint Miller, etc., etc.

Getting back to the posters, the residents were used to seeing them from all the boxing activity we 
had. The aforementioned names were familiar to all. Kobb was responsible for distributing the 
posters all over town. They were his main source of advertising his fight cards. In 1945, I noticed 
a new name on the posters. One I couldn't pronounce. Fusari. If you are not familiar with fight 
posters you would find them to be a 24" x 20" cardboard. Across the top would be the locale and date 
of the fight. Below this would be the favorite's name in large bold red letters. The name below on 
the bottom would always be in black. The name in black would be the underdog. Some posters would 
also have the photo of each fighter in his best fighting pose. Under the large name in black was the 
line "other star bouts", which would start with the semifinal. It would be names like Johnny "Red" 
DeFazio of Bayonne vs. Tommy Kaczmerek of Elizabeth. Names for the other bouts on the card were 
something like Joey Gabrielle of Orange vs. Charley Mc Garry of Rahway. Maybe names like Tic 

Mollozzi of Elizabeth vs. Eldred "Fox" Williams of New York would be mentioned fighting the four 
rounders on the card. Other names you might find on these posters who fought the undercards were 
well known to the fans. Men like Tony Rose, Johnny Darby, Lenny LaBrutta, Birdie Loffa, Tommy Parks, 
Butch Charles, Freddy Hermann, etc., etc. All good fighters who came to fight. Truly a fight fans 
bonanza. None of these guys ever came into the ring dressed like clowns or wrestlers as some  
fighters do today. I noticed the Fusari name was always in red, the favorite. In fine print under 
his name it would say undefeated Irvington sensation. I was hooked. I became a fan. I asked some 
adults how they would pronounce that name. One bright guy told me to accent the U and then give the 
I an E sound. It worked and the name was easy to pronounce thereafter.

That year 1945 the Fusari name was top name over fighters like Lou Miller, Pat Scanlon, Pat Demers 
and Joey Peralta. Charley was making it big with win after win. They even started putting posters in 
Elizabeth of Charley's fights that were held in Newark. The names in black were getting to be well 
known but Charley was always on top in his favorite color red. I didn't know then but those posters 
would become collector items in future years. The main thing with Fusari was his win streak. It 
reminded me of the weekly serial at the movie theatre. They had fifteen chapters. Each week the 
hero, lets say, the Green Hornet was in distress at the end of the chapter. It was only fitting for 
the kids to return next Saturday to see if the Green One survived. Good business, because the Hornet 
would again be ready for his demise this week also. It went on for fifteen chapters that way the 
movie house was filled to capacity each Saturday. So it was with Charley Fusari. We would all be 
tuned in to see if he would remain undefeated, taking on foe after foe. When he fought out of town, 
we kids were after the next day's afternoon edition of the newspaper. And Charley, he was great. He 
kept it going. It's incredible, compared to today's standards, but check the record books if you are 
a non-believer. Fusari fought twenty two times in 1945. His streak was thirty-two straight at years 
end. Fights were available and they fought them in those days. With the arrival of Fusari on the 
fistic scene it couldn't have been better timing. TV was becoming immensely popular. In Elizabeth, 
on the Avenue at evening time. appliance stores would set up and turn on a TV in the window when 
closing for the night. At each store it was common to see groups of people standing on the sidewalk 
in all kinds of weather watching the TV until the programs went off the air for the night. The 
playing of the National Anthem signified the station was through for the evening thereby dispersing 
the crowd.

I recall seeing my first TV fight in July of 1945, standing outside a local tavern looking at the 
set through a side screen door. My friends and I were considered too young to be left inside the 
bar. The tavern was packed with fans, there to see the Friday Night Fights from M.S.G. in New York 
City. The bar owners who could afford a large TV set had found a goldmine in the fights. A good set 
went for big bucks then, and was out of reach for most blue collar folks. They however could afford 
to nurse a few beers while enjoying the fights. From our position on the sidewalk we picked a bummer 
of a fight to watch. In a clash of styles Freddy Russo of Rahway, N.J. lost a dreary ten rounder to 
Sal Bartolo, partial featherweight champion by unanimous decision. Undefeated Russo lost his first 
fight.

Boxing being the easiest of all sports to televise because the "playing field" is so small and 
stationery became the darling of the networks. Fights started being televised ~ nights a week in the 
next few years. TV sets were getting easier to purchase by the working class. With it, boxing 
boomed.

Nineteen forty six was Fusari's break-out year. He got his first St. Nicholas Arena main event. St. 
Nick's was the Garden's farm club. Charley took on old vet Maxie Berger and walked away with the 
decision. He was called back a few months later to defeat Humberto Zavala, a rugged pug who tested 
all the young rookies. Charley made it thirty-nine straight.

With his win streak in tact and his pleasing wins over Berger and Zavala, the promoters began 
looking to Freddy Archer as Fusari's next opponent. Freddy was a top welterweight for years, and 
beat some of the best, such as two wins over Beau Jack and also a decision over Ike Williams. Enough 
said. Archer was also a Newark, New Jersey boy, a neighbor to Irvington Charley. A match between the 
two would fill Ruppert Stadium and supply the acid test to the all winning Fusari. Charley would be 
going after his 42nd win in Archer.

The fight was a blow-out. Fusari simply blew poor Freddy out of the ring. Charley came out of his 
comer with the opening bell and showered Archer with knockout punches, showing no respect at all for 
the highly regarded Newark fighter. Archer was sent crashing to the canvas three times in the first 
round. Somehow he managed to last out the round only to take a severe pasting till he was floored 
again in the sixth round. Archer's comer did not leave him answer the seventh round bell. It was 
Fusari's biggest win. His next stop M.S.G. 

The wheels were turning for a match with the Garfield Gunner, Tippy Larkin, my favorite fighter. I 
really hated to see this match made. I figured Larkin would ruin a terrific prospect. The fight was 
set for December 13, 1946. Larkin pulled out of the match and Chuck Taylor would be his substitute. 
Taylor boasted two wins over Archer and already fought two main events at the Garden Fusari would 
have his hands full. For three rounds it looked that way with Fusari taking a pounding. Taylor was 
winning easily and then Charley got hot. He started to bang Taylor all over the ring landing one 
bomb after another. Taylor couldn't come out for the seventh. Charley had a kayo for his 44th 
straight and his first main event in the Garden. The postponement of the Larkin fight and the 
convincing win over sub Chuck Taylor made the Larkin-Fusari fight a sellout for the Garden when it 
was finally put on in February 1947.

Larkin came into the ring a huge favorite. He had over one hundred victories on his ledger and loads 
of experience over the 21 year old blonde bomber. A crowd of over 18,000 showed up for a gross gate 
of over $115,000.00 huge for the times. Charley not only looked like a "Golden Boy" he was.

Charley and his brain trust must have looked at it this way? It was impossible to outpoint Tippy 
Larkin. Their only chance was to throw the right hand bomb over and over and take charge. That's 
exactly what Fusari did. He came out swinging at the first round bell. Midway through the round he 
floored Larkin for a six count. From there on until the end it was a rout. Tippy would be dropped 
again in the second, seventh, and twice in the ninth before Referee Arthur Donovan stopped the 
fight. Charley had his 45th. Straight win and was ranked number two after Tommy Bell for Sugar Ray 
Robinson's welterweight title. The Garden had a new drawing card, the best since Beau Jack and Rocky 
Graziano. Charley made Ring Magazine cover for June 1947. With caption: Charley Fusari undefeated 
New Jersey Welterweight Sensation New Contender for Ray Robinson's Title.

Garden officials put the new drawing card to work just four months later. Charley was matched 
against another Garden favorite. Tough Tony Pellone. Tony was a well respected opponent. He had some 
very good wins under his belt and it was thought he'd give the Golden Boy a real battle. Tony was 
not a hard puncher and a lot of people figured Charley could finally walk through him. They 
overlooked the fact just how tough Tony was. He was a brawler who threw punches in bunches and he 
knew what he was doing inside them ropes. Tony had victories over Bob Montgomery, Billy Graham, and 
Paddy Young among others. Tony was an expert at stealing rounds. Fight buffs called him Tony (Split 
Decision) Pellone.

It was uncanny the way he'd "shoe-shine" as Teddy Atlas would say. The shoe-shine would come into 
play near the ending of any close round. Tony would unload bunches of these harmless type punches to 
finish the round in an attempt to sway the judges. Although his opponent fought the entire round 
landing the harder and cleaner punches as Charley did. It's only human nature to recall the last 
furious rally of the round and some judges and fans fell for it. I believe that's what brought 
Charley his first defeat.

On June 13.1947 Charley Fusari's streak was ended at forty five straight. His 46th fight spelled 
disaster for the Blond Bomber. Some records record 48 straight for Fusari. Take your pick. The fact 
remains Charley never fought such a tough cagey guy like Pellone before. Charley's right hand bombs 
only shook Pellone but didn't drop him. Tony, with his punch in bunch rough-house style had Charley 
baffled in this rough Garden bout. Charley, who was installed by the gamblers as a 12 to 5 favorite 
started swelling around the left eye by the end of the fifth round. Fusari took his first loss like 
the pro that he was and called Pellone "tough". The scoring was Judge Jack O'Sullivan, 5-4-1 Fusari. 
Judge Marty Monroe 6-4 Pellone, and Ref. Arthur Donovan 6-3-1 Pellone. So again Tony lived up to his 
nick name "Split Decision". Pellone fought the fight he had to fight and it was one of his best 
efforts. In any event both fighters fought hard and well. 

The Garden big-wigs were stunned by Charley's loss. They had to get Fusari back on track. Their new 
drawing card had to regain lost prestige. Fusari fans felt bad because Charley had worked so damn 
hard to get to the top and the bigger money, only to lose such a close one.

Everyone involved with the matchmaking agreed Fusari needed some immediate wins to take the sting 
out of the Pellone loss. A little over a month later Charley was back in the Garden paired with 
Eddie Giosa. Boxing buffs couldn't understand why Giosa was chosen. He had a style almost a carbon 
copy of Pellone's. If they wanted to get Charley back on the winning side their selection of Giosa 
was in error. Maybe Fusari' s recent smashing kayo victories had the matchmaker seeing through rose 
colored glasses.

The fight with Giosa was a nip and tuck slam bang affair. Steady Eddie was slipping and sliding, 
ducking and countering in most likely the fight of his life. Giosa bullied and tried to keep Charley 
off stride. The writers called it the best fight of the season which was halfway into the yearly 
schedule. Little Eddie Giosa came into the Garden ring a 5-17 underdog. Charley was pegged at 2 to 1 
to score a kayo. Giosa being shorter and lighter in weight it certainly looked like a mismatch.

The fight drew the smallest turnout of the year. Giosa wasn't given a chance and the tickets didn't 
sell. He had earned the fight by being a consistent winner in the smaller New York City clubs the 
past year. The fans that did show up at the Garden were in for a huge surprise. "Upset". Giosa came 
to fight and fight he did. The small crowd immediately got behind the underdog as boxing fans 
usually do. They rooted little Eddie all the way in for his victory. Ref. Arthur Donovan had it 5-5 
in rounds and 12 points to 12 for a~. Judge Tom Guilhoyle had it 5-5 in rounds with 10-9 in points 
for Giosa. Judge Frank Forbes had it 5-4-1 Giosa. How close can you get?

Two losses in a row set Fusari back big time. People wondered was he a "flash in the pan"? A bright 
shooting star that burned out so soon and completely? We all would find out soon enough. The heart 
and determination of this fighter would now be tested. Would he feel sorry for himself and lay down 
or would he stand up and be counted? The best of Charley Fusari was yet to come. That's what made it 
a pleasure to follow this Golden Boy's career. 

The Pellone and Giosa losses jolted Charley's fans back to the world of reality. With each KO win he 
had scored some people including boxing writers were getting carried away with visions of Charley 
defeating the impossible to defeat Sugar Ray Robinson. In all probability Fusari's Right hand 
fascinated them into that belief.

Charley was handled by the Marsillo Brothers. Vic was his manager and a very good one by the way. He 
had the right connections and the know-how to take Fusari to the heights. Vic's brother Tony was a 
good trainer. With the Marsillo Brothers and Charley's punch and will to win, I couldn't see him out 
of the limelight for any length of time. As a fan, about this time I received a huge lift as far as 
Charley's ability was concerned. One evening while watching fighters train at the local gym I had 
the pleasure of meeting Butch Charles. This retired fighter was pointed out to me by a trainer who 
knew I was a Fusari fan. I walked up to Butch and asked him if what the trainer had told me was 
true. The trainer (Tony Orlando) claimed Butch had fought and lost twice to Fusari. Butch Charles 
admitted he lost two six round decisions to Fusari. He also fought and beat Paddy DeMarco. (DeMarco 
was destined to become lightweight champion of the world). I asked Butch what he thought of Fusari. 
He claimed Charley was a very good puncher especially with "that right hand." "If Fusari stays 
dedicated and listens to his trainers he can't miss". I was surprised by his comments. Usually when 
you talk to a fighter about his losses they almost always claim they were robbed or the ref had it 
in for them etc., etc. Not Butch Charles, he simply answered my questions never claiming anything to 
benefit himself or make excuses for the losses. He praised his opponent. Butch Charles showed class. 
His comments picked me up out of the doldrums from any subconscious thoughts that Fusari couldn't 
come back.

A month after the Giosa loss Fusari was back at MSG. This time against a former service champion who 
won an all Army title while overseas. Joe DiMartino. After his discharge Joe fought mainly in the 
New England area winning some, losing some until he finally got a match with a big name. The former 
welterweight champion of the world Marty Servo. Marty was on a comeback after relinquishing the 
title. DiMartino grabbed the "Go1d Ring", and scored a stunning kayo over the bewildered ex-champ. 
When you get the gold ring you always get a big-money reward. For Joe it was a Fusari bout in the 
garden. DiMartino's first garden main event was a disaster. Either he choked or suffered the fate of 
so many first time main eventers in Boxings "Punch Palace"_Gardenitus. Fusari simply slammed Joe 
around like a beach ball. DiMartino wasn't in the fight at all. The win did nothing to enhance 
Charley's prestige. It went into the books as a four round kayo win for Fusari, best to be 
forgotten.

Vic Marsillo decided to take his charge to the New England area for further seasoning and hopefully 
some impressive wins in a series of fights against styles the more difficult the better. Charley was 
known to have an "awkwardly clever style," along with a right hand bomb. So some good fights were at 
hand for Fusari. Also a learning process which would pay off big in Charley's future. Marsillo knew 
exactly what he was doing. Now the reader must grasp the situation as it was in late' 47 and all of 
1948. Here was this young handsome kid. A fan favorite. A large drawing card who was still a leading 
contender for the title, in short a Golden Boy ready to fight local boys in their hometowns. These 
fighters who Charley would be fighting were never rated, never fought for big money. Grant you they 
were good, only never got the right breaks. Here was their chance to fight a big name. They simply 
got ready for the fight of their lives. They trained like Rocky Balboa and fought like they never 
had before. If they caught the Gold Ring as DiMartino did against Servo they would be rewarded with 
all the things a top fighter got in those days. A money bout and a chance to be rated in the top 
ten.

Charley caught hell in most of his next dozen fights. He had to fight for his life for small purses. 
He did get the experience and the wins kept him rated among the top ten. He would battle his way 
back to Madison Square Garden for some money fights. His first fight after the lackluster De Martino 
win was a bout with Johnny Cesario a very slick boxer not nationally known but well thought of in 
New England rings. Charley fought him in Boston to a very hard fought draw. Charley's brain trust 
thought he was robbed and demanded a return bout. Only this time in Newark, New Jersey, Charley's 
turf. Charley lost in an upset in the return. Cesario caught the Gold Ring fought the two best 
fights of his career, became nationally known, rated, and got more than a few TV fights for good 
money. Charley went back to Boston to kayo Gus "Pell" Mell another New Englander and then went right 
back to Boston and lost to Al "Red" Priest in a torrid ten rounder. Priest was a good fighter but 
only known by hard core boxing fans and his Boston faithful. Now he was known throughout the boxing 
world at Fusari' s expense. He too had caught the Go1d Ring. Two months later Charley reversed the 
tables right there in Boston. And so it went. Charley came back to my hometown for fights with 
Laurie Buxton and Ruby Kessler. Both were average to good club fighters who were believed to be able 
to give Charley good workouts. They both fought the best fight of their careers. Everything to gain 
and nothing to lose. Charley had to fight like hell to take down both decisions. The Fusari vs. 
Kessler fight set an all time record in money and attendance for Promoter George "Korn" Kobb at Twin 
City Bowl. I had the pleasure of attending both fights and Kobb out did himself with the 
Fusari-Kessler brawl. Twin City Bowl was packed. Fans were turned away. At least twenty people 
crawled up on the dressing room roof. They perched there to watch the fights to the dismay of the 
police who tried to get them down, but gave up trying when the prelims started. It was lucky that 
the roof was able to hold up under all that weight avoiding a horrific accident.

Fusari and Kessler was a huge success, both boys very popular with Elizabeth fans. When I think 
back, George Kobb brought so many good fighters to Elizabeth. Recalled are Sugar Ray Robinson (three 
times), Beau Jack, Willie Pep, Arturo Godoy, Melio Bettina, Tami Mauriello, Fritzie Zivic, Tommy 
Bell and so many others too numerous to mention. Kobb's shows were always well contested bouts 
available to the fans at down to earth prices.

Charley was becoming a finished fighter, gaining mucho experience in these competitive fights. He 
finished 1948 with a kayo in Boston and two knockouts in Jersey City over Tony Riccio the tough 
Bayonne battler and a second kayo win over Tippy Larkin, his old foeman.

It was now 1949, Charley's best year. He started with a ten round win over little known Frankie 
Palermo at the Mosque Theatre in Newark, N.J. A bam burner, Palermo was determined to come away with 
an upset win. Charley had to climb off the floor to win this one. I attended the fight and it was 
worth every penny of the dollar fifty I paid for my ticket. Kobb was branching out into Newark for 
this one.

Charley was now through with school. His next bout would be where he belonged. Back at Madison 
Square Garden. Six weeks after Palermo he would take on the highly regarded Rocky Castellani. 
Charley had fought his way back into the Garden main bout by fighting a host of rough tough 
determined fighters.

I like to call the Castellani fight one of the top wins of Charley's career. Rocky was a tough 
complete fighter. He was a very good boxer and he could punch, very tricky and ring wise was he. 
Rocky was installed the favorite at 7-5. He was the "Rookie of the year for 1948," and had a four 
pound pull in the weights. Fusari 147-1/2 to Rocky's 15l-1/4. His punch put Fusari down right off 
the bat in the first round. Charley survived t he round and fought uphill for the remainder of the 
pleasing fight and walked off with the unanimous decision. Rocky Castellani was the best fighter 
Charley had defeated up to this point in his career. Rocky being young, strong and able. I'm not 
forgetting Tippy Larkin. Larkin was in the twilight of his long career when he first fought the 
young Fusari but it too was a big win for Charley.

As Fusari was battling his way back to the big time another young welterweight was making huge waves 
out in the mid-west. His name was Vince Foster; he was managed by the affabled Jack Hurley and could 
punch like a mule kick. His style was exactly like Rocky Graziano's. With a string of kayos behind 
him. Hurley brought Foster to New York. Foster was easy to sell. He had youthful good looks and a 
muscular body with an all out killer style. The Garden matchmakers put him in a semi-final bout 
against fan favorite Nick Mistovich, a real tough guy. Both boys went at it hammer and tong with 
Foster winning the decision. The fans loved this kid who was billed as of Irish-American Indian 
heritage. The Indian part of it was true, his family lived on a mid-west reservation and he had 
attended Indian schools. That blond hair had to be the Irish in him. The fighting instincts could be 
attributed to both nationalities both being noted for ferocious fighting qualities. The garden was 
quick to match this dynamo with Tough Tony Pellone. Tony fought many main bouts in the Garden. 
Although he took on the best likeIke Williams, Kid Gavilan, Tony Janiro, Billy Graham, Charley 
Fusari he was never kayoed there. This kid Foster would change all that. Pellone was installed the 
9-5 favorite to whip the 22 year old upstart.

In a stunning upset Vince Foster flattened Tony Pellone in :44 seconds of the seventh round. Tony 
was down for a four count in the third round a no count in the fourth and finally twice in the fatal 
seventh. Long right hands followed by crunching left hooks to the body did Tony in. He took the full 
ten count. The fans were stunned never having seen Tony down before. The New York News Saturday 
Edition had a large photo of Foster standing over a downed Pellone with the words "Tough Tony 
Hardened - in Starch". It was a sensational win, very impressive. This kid had the old-timers of the 
era buzzing. He looked like the real article. One could see real greatness in this solid socking 
brawler. Only thing was there was a flaw, he was too good to be true. The fans would fmd out soon 
enough.

The Garden promoters couldn't have been happier. With Foster's great KO win over Pellone and 
Charley's fine win over Rocky Castellani, what better fight could they come up with than Foster vs. 
Fusari? A real puqchers battle. They went for it. The winner of this fight would be pitted against 
the "Dead End'Kid" Rocky Graziano, outdoors. The N.Y. State Athletic Commission was getting ready to 
reinstate Graziano after a three year suspension. The Foster-Fusari winner would welcome back 
Rock-A-Bye-Rocky in a city ball park. Lots of great action ahead for the fans. Foster was made the 
favorite over Charley probably because they were using Tony Pellone as a yardstick. Fusari had lost 
to Pellone. Foster had run over Pellone like a steamroller for a sensational kayo win over the 
Greenwich Village tough guy. The fight was set for May 13, 1945.

Before the first round bell had faded away Foster was on the attack. He landed the same crunching 
and bruising left hooks to Fusari' s body that had set up Pellone. They only shook Charley. Foster 
came rushing in to deliver more of the same and was caught with the best of Fusari. A smashing right 
hand flush on his jaw. It dropped the westerner for the first of three trips to the canvas and 
Fusari's greatest win. Fusari had won a ballpark fight with the homecoming Rock.

For Foster it was his last fight. A bit over two months after his kayo defeat he was killed in a car 
crash. His car traveling at a very high rate of speed smashed into the rear of a trailer truck. He 
and a woman companion perished. His manager, Jack Hurley who had piloted many fighters including 
Billy Petrolle, the Fargo Express, explained to reporters that this kid Foster was unmanageable. A 
wild unruly rebel with an unpredictable temperament. Wine, women, partying and speed was his forte. 
So on that lonely Pipestone, Minnesota road this mixed up kid threw his life away and destroyed what 
looked like to many, despite the Fusari loss, a great talent as a fighter that could have made him 
very rich and famous. What a tremendous waste. It was all at his fmgertips for the taking. But 
playing the part of the fool was more important. He was one month away from his twenty-second 
birthday.

Fusari was on top of the world. He would now face the former middleweight champion of the world. The 
very popular Rocky Graziano. Their fight would be set for mid September 1949 in New York's Polo 
Grounds. Rocky would be the favorite because of his huge punching ability. The Rock-A-Bye-Baby also 
would have a pull in the weights of twelve pounds. Those close to the sport gave Fusari a good 
chance of pulling the upset. Charley too was a good puncher; he was also very durable never having 
been knocked out before. He also had developed into a fine boxer. These assets especially the boxing 
ability could bring home the victory for Charley. There was a lot of anticipation before the fight. 
New Yorkers' had missed their beloved "Rocky". He hadn't appeared in that city for three years. They 
were anxious to get Rocky back a winner.

Charley set up camp at the old "Madame Bey" training camp at Summit, N.J. now known as Ehsans. It 
was one of the most famous training camps in boxing history. All the greats trained there at one 
time or another. Some friends and I made out way to the site to watch Charley work out. Fusari 
looked very good in a brisk sparring session with Johnny "Red" DeFazio. After his workout Charley 
hit the shower. Most of the fans waited for him outside hoping to talk to him and maybe get a snap 
shot of their favorite fighter. Charley came out and graciously, talked and shook hands with his 
fans. I was able to wish him good luck against Graziano with a hand shake. Charley also stood still 
for the cameras before his team whisked him off. We were able to get two snaps of Charley which I 
still have to this day. He appeared more than ready and confident for the biggest fight of his life.

Graziano came into the ring a fit 159-1/2 pounds. Fusari scaled 147-1/2. These two warriors put on a 
great fight with Rocky throwing his usual bombs and pursuing the Irvington Blonde. Charley kept 
sticking out his jab and making Rocky miss. Fusari mixed it up with straight jarring rights that 
stung Rocky more than once. They would often engage in spirited exchanges some of which Charley came 
out on top. Fusari had to be very careful in these exchanges. Slugging it out with Rocky was like 
handling a rattler. One mistake and you're out. Going into the ninth round Fusari was doing so well 
he took all out liberties with Rocky and won the round big. Going into the tenth and last round 
Fusari was ahead on all scorecards. Rocky was swinging like a gate, huge haymakers. Fusari was 
punching back while slipping the bombs. Rocky had become totally desperate and came on in maniacal 
charges. One bomb finally caught Charley on the chin driving him against the ropes. Charley was in 
trouble. Rocky battered Charley along the ropes and Fusari slid to the canvas. Charley took nine and 
got up wobbly. Graziano was on him like a cat slinging rights and lefts into his helpless foe until 
the referee stopped the deadly onslaught with less than a minute left to the final bell. Fusari 
could have played it safe and he would have walked away with the decision. But that just wouldn't be 
Charley Fusari. He was a fighter first and always.

In the next eight months Charley would fight in Madison Square Garden three times. Terry Young was 
badly beaten into an eighth round stoppage. Jimmy Flood was thrashed in ten rounds, Fusari romped. 
Charley then fought Paddy Young in a brutal ten rounder won by Young by one point. A slam-bang 
battle that most observers thought Charley on. Including your writer. Ironically it was the third 
Garden main bout that Charley lost by split decision. Give the man a break, please.

The break if anyone can call it that was a shot at the championship of the world. A chance at the 
title is the pinnacle of every fighter's dreams. The goal that only so few achieve. The pot of gold 
at rainbows end. Only for Charley it was never sugar and honey. The only sugar in this deal was 
"Sugar" Ray Robinson the welterweight champ. He offered to defend his title against Charley at 
Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City. Charley as a top contender and Robby figured the challengers back 
yard would be the right place. This was a fight Charley couldn't win. He and his team knew only a 
miracle could bring Charley home a winner. He would be up against the greatest fighter to ever lace 
on a glove. Robby would enter the ring with only one loss in over one hundred fights. obinson could 
box, punch and had an iron chin. Some people believed Charley's great right hand was his only hope. 
If they checked, Robby had fought the best punchers in three divisions' lightweight, welter and 
middleweight and no one came near kayoing him.

Robinson was having a difficult time making the 147 lb. limit. He had defended his title four times 
in three years. Rules called for two defenses a year. It wasn't Robinson's fault he was behind in 
title bouts. Some of the contenders turned down offers to fight for the championship. They knew they 
couldn't win. A situation unheard of in boxing history. 

That's how good Robby was. Robby didn't mind this turn of events because making 147 was getting to 
be almost impossible for him. He kept busy fighting middleweights. He'd like to hold on to the 
welterweight title till he could get a middleweight champ into the ring with him. He had to make a 
welterweight defense in 1950 or run the risk of getting stripped by the commission. Fusari was 
offered the bout and he took it. Charley would fight an army tank, he believed in himself. One had 
to feel sorry for Fusari, he had fought long and hard to get a title shot only to get his chance at 
a super champ. Charley would be a huge, huge underdog.

At the weigh-in Charley looked to be in great shape. Robby looked drawn and gaunt from hours of 
steam room time and crash dieting. This, some Fusari supporters were wishful in their thinking might 
be the key for a Fusari win. Robinson would be weak and not at his best especially in the later rounds.

In August of 1950 Sugar Ray Robinson took on Charley Fusari in that Jersey City ring. The undisputed 
title up for grabs. The fight was a sparring session. Robinson retained his title with a fifteen 
round decision. The referee Paul Cavalier had it 13-1-1, Robinson. At that time New Jersey used the 
referee as lone judge. He and only he decided the winner. 

Robby simply outclassed Fusari, never setting down on his punches, it was a boxing clinic. Robinson 
must have decided not to go to war with the youngster. He was so weak from making weight it would be 
easier to just box smoothly to an easy decision. There was some talk after the fight that Charley 
midway through the bout told his comer he was ready to "go for broke." Cooler heads told him if the 
champ wants to box, box. The loss certainly didn't hurt Fusari. Nobody beats Sugar Ray, yet Charley 
could say he went the fifteen round route with the best.

In February of 1951 Robinson won the middleweight championship. That left his welterweight title 
vacant. The National Boxing Association (NBA) set up a match between Charley Fusari vs. Johnny 
Bratton for their version of the title. The New York Commission had Kid Gavilan as their title 
holder. Fusari went to Chicago to fight Bratton in Johnny's hometown. He did himself proud. In a 
grueling fifteen round war Charley fought one of the best fights of his career. Although dropped 
twice in the contest, Charley came back like a man possessed meeting Bratton toe to toe in a torrid 
bout. Bratton a slick boxer-puncher was a fighter who had ups and downs in his career, but when he 
was on he was on. Charley met him on his on night and what a brawl it was. TV viewers cross the 
country disagreed with the split-decision Bratton received. I believe if the fight was held in New 
York City, Fusari would have won the title.

Kid Gavilan would defeat Bratton to claim the full title. Fusari went on to meet the up and coming 
Gil Turner, a real whirlwind hard puncher who was undefeated.

It was another barn-burner with both boys going all out. Fusari was floored in the eleventh round 
for the count. Turner was quoted as saying "I said a prayer so that guy wouldn't beat the count. I 
had enough of him for one evening."

Charley took time off and returned to the ring half a year later. He was lucky to gain the decision 
over Jimmy Champagne, a local club fighter. Charley thought the layoff was esponsible for his poor 
showing and took a rematch three weeks later. Charley had nothing left and was easily out pointed. 
Fusari was smart enough to see this and retired for good. No comebacks as most fighters do. Charley 
was 27-1/2 years old.

Insiders in the know could see why Charley's skills had eroded so soon. Charley always fought hard. 
His fights from the Graziano bout till the Gil Turner fight was a two year period in which Fusari 
left all he had in the ring. What more can any fight fan ask of a fighter?

My memorial to Charley is this story. My way of paying him for my being able to reminisce, to jog 
ones memory back in time into a "twilight zone" of boxing, to a decade when boxing was king.

One can turn off the television set. Ignore that book with its stale story. Relax in an easy chair, 
close your eyes and click one's mind back to the "posters", for a full evening of enjoyment. 
Immediately the grand years of 1944 through 1947 focus into play. The undefeated Fusari years dance 
across the scene and bring with them the Golden age of New Jersey boxing. The fistic career of 
Charley Fusari, the Blonde Bomber a.k.a. '"The Irvington Milkman" the "Golden Boy" of the times. A 
time of many fight clubs, offering fights to a legion of fighters, good ones, who battled it out for 
recognition. The reliminary boxers who fought on the under cards were as important and adored by the 
fans as the main eventers. One could pick out the future stars among them and follow their careers 
as hey worked their way up the pugilistic ladder. What a great time it was for fight fans. A time 
which sadly will never be seen again. The sport pages of your local newspapers were full of boxing 
news and file photos of the favorites of the time in their fighting oses. A fan was able to make a 
scrapbook of his heroes. That would be impossible in recent times; most sport pages are barren of 
boxing news. 

With so little fight news covered by the media I am often compelled to click on the "Posters" to my 
favorite time, when always the top name was in red and always the name on top was Fusari. Along with 
fans of Charley's that are still around, we believe the name Fusari was always in red his entire 
career because he was our favorite, win, lose or draw. The beat goes on.


Charley Fusari

Country    US American
Hometown   Irvington, NJ
Birthplace Acamo, Sicily, Italy
Division   Welterweight
Born       1924-08-20 
Died       1985-11-01 
Stance     Orthodox   
Height     178        
Manager    Vic Marsillo
Trainer    Tony Marsillo


Career Record   www.boxrec.com

Date       Opponent                  Location                  Result      
1944-05-08 Jimmy Mills               Newark, NJ, USA           W PTS  4 
1944-05-22 Johnny Spoon              Newark, NJ, USA           W KO   4 
1944-06-07 Gary Williams             Union City, NJ, USA       W PTS  4 
1944-07-11 Butch Charles             Union City, NJ, USA       W PTS  6 
1944-07-25 Charley Worthem           Union City, NJ, USA       W KO   1 
1944-07-28 Artie Di Pietro           New York, NY, USA         W PTS  4 
1944-10-09 Lloyd Lasky               Newark, NJ, USA           W TKO  4 
1944-10-23 Butch Charles             Newark, NJ, USA           W PTS  6 
1944-11-03 Gary Williams             New York, NY, USA         W TKO  1 
1944-11-14 Russell Richter           Jersey City, NJ, USA      W KO   7 
1945-02-01 George Holden             Camden, NJ, USA           W TKO  2 
1945-02-08 Joe Baker                 Camden, NJ, USA           W KO   1 
1945-02-22 Joey Neil                 Camden, NJ, USA           W TKO  1 
1945-03-01 Jackie Peters             Camden, NJ, USA           W PTS  8 
1945-04-05 Jimmy McDowell            Camden, NJ, USA           W KO   2 
1945-04-16 George Johnson            Newark, NJ, USA           W KO   3 
1945-04-30 Tommy Mills               Newark, NJ, USA           W KO   3 
1945-05-21 Tommy Sloan               Newark, NJ, USA           W KO   6 
1945-06-06 Charlie Finley            Elizabeth, NJ, USA        W TKO  3 
1945-06-13 Lou Miller                Elizabeth, NJ, USA        W KO   2 
1945-07-03 Patsy Zoccano             Newark, NJ, USA           W KO   2 
1945-07-11 Pat Scanlon               Elizabeth, NJ, USA        W KO   6 
1945-08-07 Julie Bort                Newark, NJ, USA           W KO   1 
1945-08-13 Jackie Leamus             Newark, NJ, USA           W PTS  8 
1945-08-27 Jackie Leamus             Newark, NJ, USA           W PTS  8 
1945-09-11 Joey Manfro               Newark, NJ, USA           W KO   1 
1945-09-19 Al Freda                  Elizabeth, NJ, USA        W TKO  3 
1945-10-04 Johnny Rinaldi            Camden, NJ, USA           W KO   1 
1945-10-15 Victor Moreno             Newark, NJ, USA           W KO   7 
1945-11-19 Pat Demers                Newark, NJ, USA           W KO   3 
1945-12-11 Joey Peralta              Elizabeth, NJ, USA        W PTS  8 
1945-12-17 Ruby Garcia               New York, NY, USA         W KO   2 
1946-01-24 Al (Baby) Brown           Orange, NJ, USA           W KO   6 
1946-02-11 Maxie Berger              New York, NY, USA         W UD  10 
1946-02-27 Ralph Walton              Orange, NJ, USA           W KO   6 
1946-03-14 Ralph Walton              Orange, NJ, USA           W PTS 10 
1946-03-25 Joey Peralta              Newark, NJ, USA           W PTS 10 
1946-04-02 Annunzio Ferraro          Elizabeth, NJ, USA        W PTS 10 
1946-04-26 Humberto Zavala           New York, NY, USA         W PTS 10 
1946-07-16 Benny Singleton           Elizabeth, NJ, USA        W PTS  8 
1946-07-29 Johnny Lovett             Newark, NJ, USA           W TKO  8 
1946-08-22 Freddie Archer            Newark, NJ, USA           W TKO  7 
1946-10-31 Jack Larrimore            Fall River, MA, USA       W KO   3 
1946-12-13 Chuck Taylor              New York, NY, USA         W TKO  7 
1947-02-14 Tippy Larkin              New York, NY, USA         W TKO  9 
1947-06-13 Tony Pellone              New York, NY, USA         L SD  10 
1947-07-18 Eddie Giosa               New York, NY, USA         L MD  10 
1947-08-22 Joe DiMartino             New York, NY, USA         W KO   4 
1947-09-15 Johnny Cesario            Boston, MA, USA           D PTS 10 
1947-10-08 Humberto Zavala           Providence, RI, USA       W PTS 10 
1947-10-30 Johnny Cesario            Newark, NJ, USA           L PTS 10 
1947-12-08 Sammy Adragna             Pittsburgh, PA, USA       W PTS 10 
1948-01-26 Gus Mell                  Boston, MA, USA           W KO   4 
1948-02-16 Al Priest                 Boston, MA, USA           L PTS 10 
1948-04-09 Al Priest                 Boston, MA, USA           W PTS 10 
1948-06-01 Laurie Buxton             Elizabeth, NJ, USA        W PTS  8 
1948-07-20 Ruby Kessler              Elizabeth, NJ, USA        W PTS 10 
1948-09-20 Johnny Dudley             Boston, MA, USA           W KO   4 
1948-09-28 Tony Riccio               Jersey City, NJ, USA      W KO   8 
1948-10-21 Tippy Larkin              Jersey City, NJ, USA      W TKO  6 
1949-01-06 Frankie Palermo           Newark, NJ, USA           W PTS 10 
1949-02-18 Rocky Castellani          New York, NY, USA         W UD  10 
1949-04-06 Al Guido                  New York, NY, USA         W UD  10 
1949-05-13 Vince Foster              New York, NY, USA         W TKO  1 
1949-07-07 Al Evans                  Newark, NJ, USA           W PTS  8 
1949-09-14 Rocky Graziano            New York, NY, USA         L TKO 10 
1949-11-11 Terry Young               New York, NY, USA         W TKO  8 
1950-01-11 Tony Janiro               Detroit, MI, USA          L MD  10 
1950-03-10 Jimmy Flood               New York, NY, USA         W UD  10 
1950-04-19 Joey Carkido              Philadelphia, PA, USA     W UD  10 
1950-05-12 Paddy Young               New York, NY, USA         L SD  10 
1950-08-09 Sugar Ray Robinson        Jersey City, NJ, USA      L PTS 15 
1950-10-18 Tony Pellone              Chicago, IL, USA          W TKO 10 
1951-03-14 Johnny Bratton            Chicago, IL, USA          L SD  15 
        Vacant National Boxing Association World Welterweight Title
1951-06-07 Tony Janiro               Newark, NJ, USA           L PTS 10 
1951-07-09 Gil Turner                Philadelphia, PA, USA     L KO  11 
1952-02-19 Jimmy Champagne           Newark, NJ, USA           W PTS  8 
1952-03-11 Jimmy Champagne           Newark, NJ, USA           L PTS  8 

Record to Date
Won 65 (KOs 38)  Lost 12  Drawn 1  Total 78  

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