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Former welterweight champion Carmen Basilio suffers heart attack

June 20, 1997

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) _ Former world welterweight champion Carmen Basilio underwent six-way heart bypass surgery to correct blockages that his doctors considered serious.

Basilio, 70, was placed in intensive care after Thursday’s operation and was listed in guarded condition, according to his wife, Josephine.

``He’s fine,″ she said. ``It was a very successful operation. He’s holding his own.″

Basilio spent last weekend in the annual induction ceremonies at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in his hometown of Canastota, N.Y., located 20 miles east of Syracuse. He participated in the Parade of Champions on Sunday and sat onstage with the three living inductees _ Sugar Ray Leonard, Jose Torres and promoter Don King.

But friends said Basilio didn’t seem up to par.

``He was a little tired at times,″ said Ed Brophy, executive director of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. ``He didn’t seem to be his usual self. He was unusually worn-out.″

``He was very, very overtired,″ Josephine Basilio added. ``He went for a stress test (Wednesday), and they decided that he should have the operation.″

Basilio was scheduled to attend a boxing card Saturday night in Syracuse featuring Tracy Patterson and Olympic gold medalist David Reid.

Basilio, who retired in 1961 with a 56-16-7 record, with 27 knockouts, was regarded as one of the most fearless and ferocious fighters of his day. His style was a combination bob and weave that gave him a crab-like look. He was voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame as a charter member in 1990.

The cornerstones of Basilio’s fame were his two fights with Sugar Ray Robinson. Basilio won the middleweight crown on Sept. 23, 1957, using a steady barrage of body punches to wear down Robinson in a split 15-round decision. Rematched the next year, Basilio had to fight the last two-thirds of a 15-rounder with a swollen eye, and lost the fight on a split decision.

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