Name: Eddie Melo
Died: 2001-04-06 (Age:40)
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Boxing Record: click
Golden Boy Meets Gory End
By JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press
Cobra-quick Eddie Melo had just been released from a 90-day sentence and was vowing he'd never "be stuck in among all those bums and losers again" after he'd finished sparring that day 21 years ago in a Toronto gym.
Well, he was. The one-time Golden Boy of Canadian boxing would be convicted eight more times for various offences involving extortion or weapons. And after the underworld enforcer was gunned down, aged 40, with another man Friday night, there'll be no more.
The two were slain, execution-style, outside a Mississauga social club in what can only be seen as a gory epilogue to what could have been glory unending. This guy, target of earlier attempts on his life, could have been one of the legends of Canadian sports.
His takeoff was sensational. As a 17-year-old pro middleweight fighting out of Montreal because he was too young under Ontario Athletic Commission boxing regulations for 10-rounders, "Hurricane" Melo had it all.
He recorded eight knockouts in his first eight pro fights, all inside five rounds, and racked up more money ($150,000 in 18 months) than the rest of Canada's pro boxers put together.
He was fast, a terrific puncher and he could take a punch. Growing into a light heavyweight (175 pounds) he was still mowing them down. Of any Canadian boxer of the past 50 years, the guy who looked like a young Anthony Quinn had world champion written all over him.
But the day the 19-year-old former street-fighter was talking about turning over a new leaf, you wondered. Around him that day in the Lansdowne A.C. were guys with conflicting lifestyles.
Joe Dinardo, just out from a six-year counterfeiting stretch, was contemplating where his career might have gone.
"If I had stuck to boxing, things might have been different," said heavyweight Dinardo, who would later testify at the London murder trial of Stephen Demeter. "Six years in the can! This kid has a shot, though, and I'm gonna make sure he gets it," Dinardo said that day.
He didn't. Nobody did.
So, what happened? What happened to this son of hard-working Portuguese immigrants, this deadly machine that seemed built for the ring, this kid driving the Lincoln Continental as a teenager?
He lost. That's the start of it. After 14 straight wins, 12 by knockout, he was decisioned in a return bout against Fernand Marcotte. He dropped another decision and then, challenging for the Canadian light heavyweight championship, he was knocked out for the first time, in the 11th round, by Brantford's Gary Summerhayes.
"He was muscle but not a freelancer," a police source told the Toronto Sun. "He would look after Cotroni's problems."
That would be Vic Cotroni, a Mafia chief now doing time. Toronto police say he was tight with the Commisso crime family and also had West Coast Hells Angels connections.
That day in the gym, young Eddie Melo spoke the way he fought -- flourishes, quick counters, a feint here and there and the odd bomb --the non-stop boxer as the non-stop talker.
"Guys used to tell me when I was a kid I was headed for trouble, to keep my nose clean, all that stuff, but as a kid you don't believe anything," he said.
"Here I am now saying the same things to other kids. I see guys hanging around bars and getting into trouble, wasting their potential."
The Golden Boy wouldn't know it at the time and neither would I. He was writing his own epitaph.