Italian Boxing Champions – Who Are the Top Three Lightweights of All Time?

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Throughout boxing history, almost sixty men of Italian or Italian-American heritage have held world championship belts. In fact, some of the greatest names in boxing, like Rocky Marciano and Willie Pep, were of Italian heritage. Here are the three greatest Italian boxing champions in the lightweight division…

From the 1920’s through the 1950’s, the lightweight division of boxing was one of the most popular and competitive in the sport. Numerous great fighters carved out lengthy careers, often fighting two bouts per month. Several Italian-American lightweight boxers dominated the weight class, but here are our top three:

Sammy Angott

The Pennsylvania born Angott was one of the busiest fighters of his era. He fought many of the greats in both the lightweight and welterweight divisions over his lengthy career in which he amassed 135 bouts.

Among Angott’s many opponents were Henry Armstrong, Willie Pep, and Sugar Ray Robinson. He won the lightweight crown in 1940 and retained it for almost three years in a very competitive division.

Ray Mancini

The fighter known as Boom Boom Mancini was a fixture on the boxing circuit during the 1980’s. Ray maintains his popularity today by appearing on popular boxing themed television shows.

In his professional career, he was known as a fierce competitor with a straight ahead scrappy style. He rose to his first title shot at the age of 20 in 1981 and lost a thrilling bout to Alexis Arguello. The following year, Mancini won the lightweight crown and went on to defend it successfully in the early 1980’s.

Mancini retired with a career record of 29 wins and only 5 losses.

Lou Ambers

Lou Ambers, a native of Herkimer, New York was known as “The Herkimer Hurricane”. He fought mostly in the 1930’s and was one of the best lightweights of his era.

He is known for two classic bouts against the great Henry Armstrong. Each fighter won once. In the first fight in 1938, Armstrong was attempting to become the first boxer to win world titles in three separate weight classes.

In a closely contested decision, Armstrong won the first fight. Ambers won the rematch between the two the following year to reclaim the lightweight crown. Over his nine year career, Lou Ambers won 88 bouts and lost only 8, with 6 draws.


Sammy Angott, Ray Mancini, and Lou Ambers are three of the best lightweight boxers of all time. They are but three of almost five dozen world championship boxers of Italian-American heritage.

write by Aylmer

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