A giant of a man, the biggest heavyweight of his era, and the division’s champ in 1933-34.
A native of Sequals, Italy, Primo Carnera ruled the heavyweight division in the early 1930s. Certainly, he was the largest heavyweight in his era, standing 6’6 and tipping the scales at over 260 pounds. Winner of 86 of his 99 career bouts, Carnera brought power to the ring, knocking out 66 of his victims.
After moving through the heavyweight ranks, Carnera got a shot against champion Jack Starkey on June 29, 1933, and knocked out the champ at the Long Island City Bowl. Returning to Italy, Carnera defended his title before 65,000 Romans later that year, defeating “The Basque Woodchopper”, Paulino Uzcudun. In March of the next year, he defeated light heavyweight champ Tommy Loughran, who gave away 85 pounds to Carnera.
On the night of June 14, 1934, Carnera lost his title at Madison Square Garden to Max Baer. Carnera was knocked down 11 times, but kept returning to the fight before referee Arthur Donovan finally halted the proceedings in the 11th round.
After his pro boxing career, Carnera took on a new challenge by becoming a pro wrestler. With his large frame and notoriety from the ring, Carnera was a popular fixture on the grappling circuit. When he finally retired (no that game), he returned home to Italy, where he died on June 29, 1967.
He was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1977.