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Francis Albert Sinatra – A True Friend of Boxers

By “Bad” Brad Berkwitt

When the name Frances Albert Sinatra is mentioned, no doubt many things come to a person’s mind. But did you know that “The Chairman of the Board” was a diehard boxing fan and supported many boxers who fell down hard on their luck? Boxers such as Sugar Ray Robinson, who Sinatra had it written into his contract that a certain percentage went to Ray to take care of him at the end of his life. Former Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis was another Sinatra took care of at the end of his life. Frank not only respected these true giants, but loved them dearly.

In 1971, Frank Sinatra was ringside at Madison Square Garden for the first of the trilogy of fights involving Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. In fact, hold on to your socks, the cover shot of the March 1971 issue is in fact, photo credited to Frank Sinatra. I have this Life Magazine in plastic among many cherished items in my boxing collection of stuff from over the years.

Frank, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, JR and sometimes Joey Bishop, could be seen ringside at many of the Vegas fights, but not limited to venues just there. In fact, Sinatra, Martin and Bishop were ringside when a then young Cassius Clay shocked the world in stopping Heavyweight Champion of the World Sonny Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Center in 1964. Where did 46 years go?

Sinatra always said he related to fighters because in fact, he had been labeled a fighter who fought his way out of a tough city at the time called Hoboken in New Jersey right across the bay from NYC. He fought to make it to the top of the music world no different than a fighter in his day fought in dives plying his trade to become a world champion. Times were different back then in the 1930’s and 1940’s, but many comparisons have always been made to Sinatra’s career and that of a boxer.

And like Robinson did so many times, Sinatra made the comebacks that saw him hold high above his head that championship belt. Those were the days no doubt…

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