Angelo Dundee, Trainer To Muhammad Ali And Sugar Ray Leonard, Dies At 90

Photo by Ray Fisher Time Life Pictures via Getty Images

Angelo Dundee, a legend of combat sports for his work training and cornering Muhammad Ali, has passed away at the age of 90 according to a report from the Associated Press. Dundee died surrounded by family a month after attending Ali's 70th birthday bash in Kentucky.

In addition to Ali, whom Dundee began working with when he was still an amateur boxer named Cassius Clay, Dundee worked with Carmen Basilio, Willie Pastrano, Ralph Dupas, George Foreman, Luis Rodriguez, Sugar Ramos, Luis Rodriguez, "Sugar" Ray Leonard, and Jose Napoles.

Wikipedia sums up Dundee's work with Ali and Leonard:

Dundee traveled around the world with Ali, and he was the cornerman in all but two of Ali's fights (Tunney Hunsaker in 1960 and Jimmy Ellis in 1971). Dundee trained the young Cassius Clay, as Ali was then known, in most of his early bouts, including those with Archie Moore (who had trained Clay before his partnering with Dundee) and Sonny Liston, where Clay won the Heavyweight title. Dundee continued to train Ali in all of his fights until his exile from boxing, and upon Ali's return to the sport Dundee trained him in almost all of his fights, including Ali's famed bouts with fighters such as Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, Joe Frazier, Floyd Patterson, George Foreman, Ken Norton and, later, Leon Spinks. One exception was in Ali's '71 fight with Jimmy Ellis where Dundee was in Ellis' corner. Ali knocked Ellis out in the 12th round. Dundee was accused by Foreman of loosening the ring ropes before his 1974 The Rumble in the Jungle fight with Ali to help Ali win the fight by using the Rope-a-dope technique. Dundee has consistently denied tampering with the ropes. In 1997, after decades Dundee reunited with Muhammad Ali and appeared alongside him in a sentimental Super Bowl commercial.

Dundee saw a future, emerging star in Sugar Ray Leonard, whom he has called "a smaller version of Ali". Dundee acted as cornerman for Leonard in many of his biggest fights, including those with Wilfred Benítez, Roberto Durán, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler. In Leonard's first bout with Hearns, Dundee, thinking that his protege was behind on the scorecards, quipped the now famous words, "You're blowing it, son! You're blowing it!" before the start of round 13. Leonard went on to score a fourteenth round win when the referee stopped the fight.

There's more from a very nice 2007 piece on Dundee's autobiography in which he talks about working with Ali after the jump.

Dundee will be remembered as not only one of the truly great coaches and trainers in boxing history, he'll also be remembered as one of the few truly class acts in boxing.

Rest In Peace, Coach.

"A lot of guys didn't think he would make it," Dundee said of Ali during a recent conversation in Las Vegas, "because he was doing so much jumping around, kept his hands down, jerked around."

Most trainers would have tried to change him, mold him, make him do things the "right" way. Not Dundee.

"I left him alone," he said. "I just smoothed out a lot of stuff."
The smoothing, though, had to be done in a particular way. If he wanted Ali to jab, he wouldn't tell him to jab; he knew the boxer's ego wouldn't allow it. Instead, he started complimenting him on the way he was jabbing.

"I made him feel like he innovated it. If I was the guy that gave him directions, he'd say, 'Hey, who's this midget to tell me what to do?' No, I never gave him a direct order. The only time I told him what to do was in the ring."

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