Bobby Scanlon

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Bobby Scanlon
Bobby Scanlon.jpg
Bobby Scanlon corner b & w.jpg

Name: Bobby Scanlon
Hometown: San Francisco, California, USA
Birthplace: Buffalo, New York, USA
Died: 1975-06-23 (Age:39)
Height: 168cm
Pro Boxer: Record

Bobby Scanlon had a very difficult childhood growing up in Father Baker's orphanage. Possessing choirboy looks, Scanlon was frequently the target of tougher kids. Scanlon turned to boxing and became the orphanage champion. He began his pro career in mid 1954. During the first three-and-a-half years of his career, he was undefeated in 32 fights, at 31-0-1. He competed mainly in New York City, with occasional stops in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Erie, Pennsylvania.

His sister, Carol, remembers her brother driving his powder-blue Thunderbird around the First Ward. He is also remembered as a very generous brother who returned home during the Christmas season to buy gifts for his sisters. Bobby Scanlon's manager, Mike Scanlon (no relation), then moved Bobby and his other three fighters--Rocky Fumerelle, Richie Todaro and Joey Giambra--to San Francisco in 1957. After a brief stay Todaro returned to Buffalo. The remaining three fighters occupied the same house along with Mike Scanlon, and they all became top contenders in their divisions. Scanlon improved his winning streak to 32 in California. He defeated such top fighters as Lauro Salas, Wallace (Bud) Smith, Joey Lopes and Dave Gallardo.

Following the March 1957 fight with Davy Gallardo, Scanlon broke with his manager Mike Scanlon. Bobby was already showing a dislike for the tough training techniques utilized by Mike. His contract was purchased by Art Benjamin, and later by Nick Kobseff and Lou Sabella. Fred Apostoli, former middleweight champion, would later become Bobby Scanlon's trainer.

According to Rocky Fumerelle, "Bobby Scanlon was his own worst enemy." Scanlon was good-looking and a good fighter. He was very popular among the Irish of San Francisco. If he would have remained in better shape and maintained a regular training schedule, "I have little doubt that Bobby Scanlon would have been the Lightweight champion of the world."

From late 1958 to early 1960 Scanlon not only saw his winning streak come to an end, but he also lost five of seven fights. Scanlon's winning streak came to an end when he suffered a third-round knockout to Paolo Rosi. Prior to this fight Scanlon was rated third in the Lightweight Division behind Rosi and Carlos Ortiz. Soon after his initial loss to Rosi, Scanlon lost another ten-round decision to Paolo. Scanlon also lost a pair of ten-round decisions to Johnny Gonsalves, as well as a decision to Al Urbina. But Scanlon did win a big ten-round decision over Orlando Zulueta.

Scanlon then returned to Buffalo to fight fellow Buffalonian Jackie Donnelly. In a hard-fought 12-round fight, Scanlon won the New York State Lightweight championship. It was one of Scanlon's biggest paydays, as he collected $4,937 for the fight.

Following the first Johnny Gonsalves fight, Scanlon began to suffer double vision. It got worse as he prepared for the second fight with Gonsalves. The problem continued through the Jackie Donnelly fight, as well as an August fight with Francisco Santos. Scanlon laid off from boxing for a year before he returned to fighting again in 1962. Things were not the same. In addition to the double vision, Scanlon had suffered a serious kidney and liver infection. He changed managers four times, and saw his level of competition go down, losing seven of his last thirteen fights.

Although Scanlon was fighting less frequently in 1965 and 1966, he was still experiencing eye problems. He retired from boxing in mid-1966. After he retired from the ring everything went downhill. Early in his boxing career Scanlon had been offered a job in public relations with the Oakland Raiders football team, but now there were few job offers. Although he became deeply religious, his physical and mental health began to deteriorate. Scanlon was struggling to adjust to life without boxing, struggling to restore some meaning to his life, when he died in a fire at the Hotel Lackawanna on June 23, 1975. He was only 39 years old. His final record was 42-12-1.