Frank (Frankie) Sagilio
“The little man with the big punch”
By Judy Sagilio
My dad: Frank Sagilio
Born: 3-25-1914 to Serafino and Rosa in the town of Marono Marchesato, Province of Casenza, Calabria. (My dad was 6 years of age when he, his parents and two siblings came to America in 1920.)
They settled in “Little Italy”-actually at 1208 McAllister Place (which is now Lexington) only a few doors from Our Lady of Pompeii Parish (OLP). He often spoke of his days in school and how he served as an “altar boy” and how the priest had to continually coach him on what was expected of him.
I often attend the Columbus Day Mass and go to the “St. Joseph Table” at OLP before lent.
When I was older, oftentimes my dad and I would revisit the area, go into the church and walk through Arrigo Park. (My dad called Arrigo Park “Peanut Park” and not until recently when I asked one of the police officers why they called it that. He informed me that “Peanut Park” or “Arrigo Park” was shaped like a peanut. That only took over 40 years for me to get that information! (Dad died March 31, 1997 at the age of 83. Not a day goes by where I don’t miss him.)
My mom: Edith Yolanda Napaliton
Born: 1-24-1914 and passed away at the age of 84 on 4-11-2000. Again the loss for me is always present. My parents got married 8-28-1937. When my dad passed they would have been married almost 60 years!
I am an only child. The love my parents and I had for one another was unconditional. I always say we were like the Three Musketeers. We were always there for one another. Really never needed anyone else. I always preferred to spend time with them rather than spend time with anyone else!
When I was young they were always there for me. When they got older and needed assistance, I was there for them…unconditionally. I hope to send you a few pictures of them. My mom was absolutely gorgeous and my dad was ruggedly handsome! (Editor’s comment: They were truly an unbelievably handsome couple.)
Everyone in the Chicagoland area knew my dad because of his boxing career:–politicians, other sports figures, entertainers etc. This was the “era of boxing in Chicago.” What a glorious time and too bad it’s gone. Long after he retired from boxing he was always there to help others. After his career, he managed a few fighters at the Midwest Gym. I often went with him when I got older and met the likes of Bob Satterfield, etc.
My dad worked as a court bailiff for a judge and again took me with him to the Criminal Courts building at 26th and California. Little did we know then that years later I would spend many years employed there as a Probation Officer. He also worked as a Sheriff’s police officer on the south side of Chicago. He finally settled in with the Chicago Park District (normally Garfield Park) where he retired in 1990 after 25 years of service. He also served as the assistant director for the Lawndale Community Center providing social services that focused on young children. Oftentimes he would run into some very influential people who wanted to know where he had been hiding as they all wanted to give him a job. But my dad was a very “private person” and preferred being under the radar.
But he did enjoy celebrating their wedding anniversary often times at the College Inn Restaurant at the Sherman Hotel. I’ve got great memories of that.
I better get back on track. This is about my Dads Boxing career” and his influence in the Chicagoland area! First I enclosed a partial record of his boxing career that a friend of mine went online for me and gave it to me a few years ago. Next is a copy of the “Playbill” for the Chicago Stadium. My dad was the first boxer to appear on the Playbill. It is one of my most favorite pictures of my Dad. The match between my dad and Davey Day was one of the great fights of its time. To headline the stadium was a real proof of your worth; the Chicagoland area was the place to box!
During that era Barney Ross won the Welterweight Champion; Davey Day was ranked 2nd and my Dad was ranked 3rd. What most people didn’t know was that Ross and Day had the same manager. Because they were in the same stable (as the term went) they could never fight one another. Therefore Davey Day was placed in the position of a “buffer” for every other fighter who might want to challenge Barney Ross.
I have enclosed a copy of an article titled “Sagilio-The little man with the big punch!” In that article they made reference to “Pete Nebo”, the Seminole Indian who had never been knocked out…and that included his fights with 3 champions: Barney Ross, Tony Canzoneri, and Kid Chocolate. But as you can see by the other article I have enclosed, my dad KO’d Nebo in the eighth round…a first time experience for Nebo!
Also note a copy of the article by “Ben Bentley.” well known in the boxing industry and an article about “Italian Fans Hail Sagilio.” I have hundreds of articles in my Dad’s scrap book. I have just enclosed a few in a small envelope.
My dad’s original manager was Willie Capitoro and later the well-known Jack Hurley managed him, who I believe had some influence with Joe Louis.
My dad was not only my hero, but became a hero for many young men. I can remember my dad and me going to see the Rocky Graziano/Sugar Ray Robinson fight. And then the one memorable moment for both of us occurred when we attended a benefit for Ezzzard Charles who was ill at the time. We got to meet Rocky Marciano.
I always thank God for giving me the most wonderful parents and the most wonderful memories. I want to thank both Vincent and Tommie Romano for allowing me to share these memories. I hope you both enjoyed the journey with me.
When my father passed away n 1997 an obituary appeared in the Fra Noi along with the Chicago Tribune. God bless you both…take care…and have a wonderful 2014.
Attachments: Newspaper Articles Gallery; Photo Gallery.