Al Silvani

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Silvani circa 1944
World Boxing Hall of Fame Inductee
  • Born: March 26, 1910, in New York City, New York
  • Died: January 10, 1996, n North Hollywood, California
Silvani with Al Tribuani and Rocky Graziano in 1949.

Al Silvani was a boxing trainer who worked with over twenty world champions. He was one of the most sought-after trainers in the business.

Silvani became interested in boxing because his older brother, Joe Silvani, was a professional boxer. Al had 45 amateur fights, but he never turned professional.

Al decided to become a trainer after he saw his brother injured in a fight for which he hadn't properly trained. He recalled years later, "I realized how good he might have been if someone had taken care of him."

He started as an apprentice to Whitey Bimstein at Stillman's Gym. "I worked with Whitey Bimstein in '36 and '37, "Silvani said, "then Ray Arcel asked me to work along with him."

Silvani went off on his own as a trainer after his heavyweight, Tami Mauriello, started gaining prominence in the early 1940s. Mauriello fought Joe Louis for the World Heavyweight Championship on September 18, 1946. Mauriello staggered Louis with a right hand 10 seconds into the fight, but the champion came back and knocked out the challenger at 2:09 of the first round.

In 1954, Silvani spent seven months in Thailand, where he developed professional boxers and served as director of physical training for the army and police forces.

Silvani trained the Danish boxing team for the 1972 Olympics.

In 1978, Howard Cosell called Silvani "the most famous trainer in the world." When Silvani protested, "Oh, no, Howard," Cosell insisted, "Yes, Al, you are the most famous in the world. Others are famous in the U.S."

Silvani was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in the "Expanded Category" (Managers & Trainers).

In 2006, Silvani was inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame.

Movie Career

Silvani with Sylvester Stallone in the 1976 film Rocky.

In the early 1940s, Frank Sinatra approached Silvani at a bar in New York City and asked the trainer to teach him how to box. "I took him to Stillman's and taught him how to throw a punch and how to move," Silvani said. "He caught on quickly."

Silvani spent a great deal of time with Sinatra as a friend, assistant and security man. Defining his role with Sinatra, Silvani explained in 1975, "I don't like the word bodyguard. But if somebody starts to cause trouble, I can take charge."

Sinatra helped Silvani get involved in the movie business. He would work as an actor, assistant director, consultant, technical adviser, trainer, and stunt man.

Silvani had bit parts in the Sinatra movies From Here to Eternity, Ocean's 11, Come Blow Your Horn, Robin and the 7 Hoods, Von Ryan's Express and Marriage on the Rocks. He also appeared in movies starring Rod Steiger, Jeff Bridges, Jon Voight, George Segal, and Al Pacino.

He had small acting roles in the first three Rocky movies, as well as the boxing films Somebody Up There Likes Me, Kid Galahad, Fat City, The All-American Boy, Goldie and the Boxer, Goldie and the Boxer Go to Hollywood, and Dempsey.

Silvani was a fight consultant and second assistant director for Fat City, and he served as a technical adviser for Rocky II, Raging Bull, and Goldie and the Boxer Go to Hollywood.

He also taught boxing basics to such actors as Paul Newman, Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood, and Robert DeNiro.

Fighters Trained

Silvani with Jake LaMotta in 1949 after LaMotta won the middleweight title.