FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2003, file photo, boxing great Muhammad Ali touches the head of his former coach Angelo Dundee at the Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany. Dundee, the trainer who helped groom Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard into world champions and became one of boxing's most recognizable figures, died Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012. He was 90. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, File)
Not many people stood as tall as Muhammad Ali in the boxing world. And while trainer Angelo Dundee was certainly smaller in stature, his persona rivaled that of The King. After a career training greats that included Dundee, Sugar Ray Leonard and George Foreman, Dundee became one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors, earning Hall of Fame induction in 1994. Dundee died Wednesday at the age of 90 in Tampa, Fla. We remembered perhaps boxing’s greatest trainer.
Ready to take the world
In 1962, Cassius Clay (he had not yet changed his name to Muhammad Ali) and Angelo Dundee were still getting their professional legs. Two years removed from Clay’s gold medal in Rome, the two began climbing the heavyweight ranks, leading to the bout that would put Ali on the map forever.
On Feb. 25, 1964, Clay was given little chance to defeat heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. But it was Clay who would ultimately float like a butterfly into the arms of his handlers (Dundee is seen screaming at the far right), stunning the boxing world and becoming champion when Liston, a 7-1 favorite, failed to answer the bell for the seventh round in Miami Beach.
The day after defeating Liston, Cassius Clay ignited a firestorm of controversy by joining the Black Muslims and changing his name to Muhammad Ali. While the outcry was far-reaching, Dundee stood by Ali throughout.
Together through the end
Dec. 11, 1981, saw Ali's career come to an end, and Dundee was right there in his corner. The fight with Trevor Berbick in the Bahamas ended in a 10-round, unanimous decision loss for Ali, setting his final career record at 56-5.
As Ali's career was coming to an end, Dundee took to the corner of another man he would mold into a legend. Sugar Ray Leonard, whom Dundee referred to as 'a smaller Ali,' also first gained fame as an Olympic champion before climbing the professional ranks. Hooking up in the late 1970s, Leonard and Dundee would strike gold with the WBC welterweight title in 1979. Seen here in 1980, Leonard receives instruction from Dundee in a WBC welterweight title defense fight against Roberto Duran at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec. Duran; however, won the fight by a unanimous decision in 15 rounds.
In April 6, 1987, Leonard fought Marvin Hagler for the WBC middleweight championship in what was called 'The Super Fight.' The bout in Las Vegas lived up to the hype, Leonard riding Dundee's um, encouragement, to a split decision over Hagler.
His greatest feat?
Perhaps no Dundee achievement in the ring was greater than leading George Foreman to the world heavyweight championship in 1994 — when Foreman was 45!
After living in Miami for decades, Dundee moved to the Tampa area in 2007 so that he and his ill wife, Helen, could be closer to family. Here, Dundee talks with Rays manager Joe Madden after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch in August 2010.
A man of honor
Dundee was presented with the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) One America Award in October 2000, by Bill Clinton of all people. It's a pretty rare night when the President of the United States takes a back seat to somebody, and on this night, an argument could be made he was the No. 3 honcho in the room.
Friends to the end
On Jan. 14 of this year, Dundee celebrated Ali's 70th birthday at a fundraiser in the champ's hometown of Louisville, Ky. Dundee died 18 days later.