Boxing trainer Angelo Dundee, who oversaw some of the biggest fights in boxing history and trained both Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, died Wednesday in Tampa, Florida at the age of 90. Dundee was the genial, whip-smart motivator who was behind virtually all of Ali’s career.
He attended Ali’s 70th birthday party in Louisville last month, and passed away surrounded by family.
Many in boxing laud Dundee as possibly the greatest trainer of all-time for taking a supremely talented by often distracted Ali and molding him into arguably the greatest heavyweight to ever step in the ring.
Dundee was also in Leonard’s corner when he fought Tommy Hearns in 1981 and famously yelled at him for falling behind, imploring him to come back. Leonard rallied for a knockout win in what may have been the signature fight of his career. You can watch that entire bout here.
He was a fantastic motivator, a great strategist and a guy fighters hated to disappoint. Dundee has always been regarded as one of the sport’s great ambassadors. He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994, for his career that spanned six decades and during which he trained 15 world champions.
His connection to Ali will be what he is always remembered for. The two first connected in 1959 when he met the young fighter (then known as Cassius Clay) who was a local Golden Gloves champion. After Ali returned from the 1960 Olympics in Rome with a gold medal, Dundee sought to train him, the young fighter declined, before his representatives sought out the veteran trainer later in the year. After Ali won his first fight, Dundee accepted the opportunity.
No matter what happened during Ali’s career or in his personal life, Dundee never left him, training him for the rest of his career.
Dundee is one of boxing’s greatest representatives and we lost a great sports figure we could all look up to on Wednesday.
Rest in peace Mr. Dundee. You will be missed.