Willie Pep

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Class of 1990
Modern Category
Hall of Fame bio:click
World Boxing Hall of Fame Inductee

Name: Willie Pep
Alias: Will o' the Wisp
Birth Name: Gugliermo Papaleo
Born: 1922-09-19
Birthplace: Middletown, Connecticut, USA
Died: 2006-11-23 (Age:84)
Hometown: Rocky Hill, Connecticut, USA
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 5′ 5″   /   165cm
Reach: 68″   /   173cm
Boxing Record: click
Refereeing Record: click

Manager: Lou Viscusi
Trainer: Bill Gore
Willie Pep Gallery

  • Defeated Chalky Wright at the age of 20 to win the world featherweight title.
  • Won his first 62 professional fights before losing a ten-round decision to former world lightweight champion Sammy Angott
  • Named The Ring Fighter of the Year in 1945.
  • Was seriously injured in a plane crash in January 1947. The co-pilot and two passengers were killed.
  • Had a record of 134-1-1 when he lost the featherweight title to Sandy Saddler in 1948. Pep outpointed Saddler to regain the title in The Ring Fight of the Year for 1949. Saddler regained the title from Pep in 1950, and successfully defended it against Pep in 1951. Their last fight was named the 6th dirtiest fight of all time by The Ring in 1997.
  • Knocked out in two rounds by Lulu Perez in 1954. Many believe Pep took a dive. A late surge of betting on Perez moved the odds favoring him from 6-5 to 3½-1 and some bookmakers took the fight off the boards. A 1980 Inside Sports magazine article called "The Fix" said a boxer, identified as "The Champ," threw a fight against Lulu Perez in 1954 for $16,000. Pep filed a $75 million libel suit against Newsweek Inc, which owned Inside Sports. The jury deliberated for just 15 minutes and ruled against Pep.
  • Retired in 1959, but returned to the ring in 1965 and fought ten more times before retiring for good at the age of 43.
  • Elected to The Ring Hall of Fame in 1963.
  • Elected to the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1981.
  • Elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
  • Named the greatest featherweight of the century and the fifth greatest boxer of the century by the Associated Press in 1999.
  • Named the greatest featherweight of all-time by The Ring in 1994 and 2002.
  • Elected to the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame in 2010.
  • Became a prominent referee and a deputy boxing commissioner for the state of Connecticut.
  • Married six times. "All my wives were great housekeepers," he would say. "After every divorce, they kept the house."
  • Suffered from Alzheimer's Disease in his final years and died at the West Hill Convalescent Home in Rocky Hill, Connecticut in 2004.
  • International Boxing Hall of Fame Bio
  • Video: In This Corner - Willie Pep
  • Video Highlights

Preceded by:
Chalky Wright
World Featherweight Champion
1942 Nov 20 – 1948 Oct 29
Succeeded by:
Sandy Saddler
Preceded by:
Sandy Saddler
World Featherweight Champion
1949 Feb 11 – 1950 Sept 8
Succeeded by:
Sandy Saddler