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Former welterweight champion Carmen Basilio has heart surgery

June 19, 1997

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

Basilio, 70, was placed in intensive care after the operation and was listed in guarded condition, his wife said.

``He’s fine,″ Josephine Basilio said. ``It was a very successful operation. He’s holding his own and he’s very well.″

Basilio spent last weekend at the annual induction ceremonies for the International Boxing Hall of Fame in his hometown of Canastota, N.Y., 20 miles east of Syracuse. He participated in the Parade of Champions 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 said. ``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 at 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 one of the most fearless and ferocious fighters of his day. 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 title Sept. 23, 1957, using a steady barrage of body punches to win a split 15-round decision. In a 1958 rematch, Basilio fought the last 10 rounds of a 15-rounder with a swollen eye and lost on a split decision.

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