CHARLIE NORKUS

Inducted on November 14, 1996

Charlie Norkus was born August 28, 1928 to Charles and Clara Norkus in Bellrose, Queens N.Y. He was a standout student athlete during his years attending Jamaica HS in NYC. He earned medals in swimming and diving as well as a champion pole vaulter during that time. Charlie took up boxing during that time and was soon entered into the 1944 and 1945 NY Golden Gloves as a heavyweight contestant. He took 2nd place (silver gloves) both times. Immediately after graduating from High School, Charlie entered the service joining the US Marine Corps. As an undefeated boxer in the service, Charlie was chosen as an alternate to the US Olympic team during the 1948 games in London. He was the heavyweight US Navy and Marine Champion from 1946-1948.

Turning pro after his stint in the service, Charlie’s early career had him fighting out of Bayonne NJ, under his trainer Ghee Leico. Charlie a right handed fighter, possessed a walloping left hook that floored many opponents. An early string of knock-outs earned him the nick-name “Bayonne Bomber” a title that followed him throughout his career. One of Charlie’s life-long friends and stable-mate was Hall of Famer Ernie Durando. By 1955, Charlie was a highly ranked heavyweight, beating such notables as Roland LaStarza, Cesar Brion and a undefeated Charlie Powell. Norkus floored Powell with a devastating left hook. Two of Charlie’s most talked about fights were against a highly touted Danny Nardico of Fla. Charlie’s first fight with Nardico was a ruthless, wild brawl yielding 8 knock downs, with Danny going down six times before Norkus put him away for good in the ninth round. The fight is still written and talked about today. A rematch on national TV had no knock downs but was a toe to toe fight with Norkus the victor again. Charlie had notable non-title fights against champions Archie Moore, Willie Pastrano and Ezzard Charles.

Norkus earned a shot at Marciano in 1955, but had to get through the former champion Ezzard Charles in Madison Square Garden in February. Norkus lost a close decision to “Old Ezz” in a ten rounder.

Charlie retired in 1959 after 52 fights, 33-19 with 19 KO’s.

Charlie became a leading salesman for Standard Food Products on long Island. Charlie married Margie Vogelsang in 1954 and had one son, Charlie Jr., who is accepting Charlie’s award this evening. During the 1970’s and 80’s, Charlie was a referee with the NY State Boxing Commission doing many early fights of champions Buddy McGirt, Mathew Saad Muhammed, Tyson and contenders Cooney, Snipes, Dokes and many others.

A KO not recorded in the books was scored over Warren Beatty in the movie Splendor in the Grass, and he also had parts in Requiem For A Heavyweight, West Side Story and Breakfast at Tiffanys.

Charlie received the Downtown Athletic Club’s 3rd Annual Boxing Greats award in 1983. For years, Charlie was a local hero on long Island showing his fight films to many organizations and friends. Charlie was also involved with various charity events across long Island and NYC. The Human Resource Center in Albertson, NY had Charlie appear annually at their sports night dinner speaking and making friends with Handicapped children.

Charlie passed away on March 22, 1996 at his residence of 35 years i Wantagh, NY. Besides his wife and son, Charlie is also survived by three sisters Ms. Beverly Norkus, Mrs. Dorothy Schnell and Mrs. Olive Kopp.

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Referee Record – Charley Norkus