Tony Esperti

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Fight Poster

Name: Tony Esperti
Alias: Big Tony
Birth Name: Anthony Esperti
Born: 1930-02-28
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Died: 2002-04-12 (Age:72)
Hometown: Bronx, New York, USA
Height: 6′ 3″   /   191cm
Boxing Record: click

Anthony (Tony) Esperti is best remembered as one of Muhammad Ali's early opponents.

Esperti trained at the famed Florida 5th Street Gym. He reportedly worked as a sparring partner for Sonny Liston and Willie Pastrano.

Once his boxing career ended in the early 1960s, 'Big Tony' Esperti became a well-known fixture in local Miami Beach hot-spots for his flashy dress and association with "interesting" characters. According to an article in the Miami Herald newspaper in 1967, Esperti had been arrested eleven times. But in all eleven cases the victims refused to press charges against him.

In 1967, Big Tony was the apparent target of a bomb that missed its mark at Happy's Stork Lounge, on the 79th Street Causeway, in North Bay Village, Florida.

On October 31, 1967, at the Place for Steak restaurant in North Bay Village, Florida, Esperti allegedly gunned down Thomas 'The Enforcer' Altamura, a reputed mobster. According to newspaper reports, Altamura had been waiting to be seated at the restaurant when Esperti approached and shot him to death.

Police arrested the 245-pound Esperti for the killing. Upon the advice of his lawyer, Esperti refused to be swabbed for gunpowder residue. He threw three police officers around like rag dolls. Officers grabbed his arms and took him to the floor. Other detectives were on the floor grappling with his arms. Another officer kicked Esperti in the testicles. (Esperti's hand eventually yielded just a flake of fresh gunpowder.)

Esperti was sentenced to Altamura prison.


  • The New York Times, November 30, 1952, Sport's Section, page 54: ESPERTI OUTPOINTS O'CONNOR.
  • Miami Herald, November 1, 1967.
  • Miami Herald, August 12, 1982, Neighbors MB, Page 10: NEIGHBORS.
  • Miami Herald, December 15, 1988, Neighbors, Page 14: MOBSTERS AND MOLLS ONCE FLOCKED TO VILLAGE EATERIES.
  • Miami Herald, September 14, 1993, Neighbors, Page 1: 79TH STREET CAUSEWAY EATERIES NEVER GET STALE.
  • Miami Herald, August 4, 1996, Tropic, Page 10: TROPIC.
  • Miami New Times, December 2, 2000: NORTH BAY CONFIDENTIAL, by Gaspar Gonzalez.
  • Miami Herald, November 1, 2002: Front Section, Page 4A: TODAY IN HERALD HISTORY.
  • Miami Herald, February 12, 2006: Neighbors MB, Page 4: SALON HAS DEEP ROOTS.