Angelo Dundee (born Angelo Mirena; August 30, 1921 – February 1, 2012) was a 20th century American boxing trainer and cornerman. Internationally known for his work with Muhammad Ali (1960–1981), he also worked with 15 other world boxing champions, including Sugar Ray Leonard, José Nápoles, George Foreman, George Scott, Jimmy Ellis, Carmen Basilio, Luis Manuel Rodríguez, and Willie Pastrano.
Dundee was born Angelo Mirena on 30 August 1921 in Philadelphia, to Italian recent immigrant parents Filomena Cianelli, mother of seven children, and Angelo Merenda, a railway construction worker, an Italian native from Roggiano Gravina. The name of the father was erroneously transcribed in Mirena at the time of immigration. In the early 1940s he changed his surname to ‘Dundee’, after the United States champion boxer Johnny Dundee. During World War II he served as an aircraft mechanic in the United States Air Force, including an active service deployment to England in 1944-45. His first experience of cornerman work was in U.S.A.F. boxing tournaments, and after leaving the Air Force in late 1945 at the war’s end he headed to New York City where he was employed as a bucket-guy at Stillman’s Gym as an apprenticeship as a boxing trainer.
After completing his apprenticeship in New York City, Dundee relocated to Miami Beach, Florida, where he opened the “Fifth Street Gym” with his brother. Carmen Basilio was the first World Champion for whom Dundee acted as a cornerman, when Basilio defeated Tony DeMarco for the world welterweight crown in 1955, and Sugar Ray Robinson for the World Middleweight Crown in 1957.
Dundee traveled around the world with Ali, and he was the cornerman in all but two of Ali’s fights (Tunney Hunsaker in 1960 and Jimmy Ellis in 1971). Dundee trained the young Cassius Clay, as Ali was then known, in most of his early bouts, including those with Archie Moore (who had trained Clay before his partnering with Dundee) and Sonny Liston, where Clay won the heavyweight title. Dundee continued to train Ali in all of his fights until his exile from boxing, and upon Ali’s return to the sport Dundee trained him in almost all of his fights, including Ali’s famed bouts with fighters such as Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, Joe Frazier, Floyd Patterson, George Foreman, Ken Norton and, later, Leon Spinks.
One exception was in Ali’s 1971 fight with Jimmy Ellis, where Dundee was in Ellis’s corner. Ali knocked Ellis out in the 12th round. Dundee was accused by Foreman of loosening the ring ropes before his 1974 The Rumble in the Jungle fight with Ali to help Ali win the fight by using the rope-a-dope technique. Dundee consistently denied tampering with the ropes. In 1998, after decades, Dundee reunited with Muhammad Ali and appeared alongside him in a sentimental Super Bowl commercial. The two men were friends until Dundee’s death and the veteran trainer would always refer to Ali as “my kid”.