Two-time world middleweight champion Tony Zale was born 99 years ago on this day, 29th May.
He is best remembered for his epic three-bout tussle with Rocky Graziano immediately after the war. In the first fight, Zale put an end to Graziano’s long knock-out winning streak. Graziano prevailed in the re-match (and is memorably portrayed in the movie Somebody Up There Likes Me by Paul Newman). Zale regained his crown in New Jersey 11 months later in June 1948.
Zale’s last fight was against Marcel Cerdan in September ’48. It took Cerdan 11 brutal rounds to stop Zale – with Cerdan’s mistress, Edith Piaf, looking on and praying to Saint Therese.
The gracious Graziano later confessed that he had a recurring nightmare in which he was back in the ring with Zale, the toughest fight of his life.