Anthony "Tony Zale" Zaleski
Froebel High School
Tony Zale was an American boxer born and raised in Gary, Indiana, a steel town, which gave him his nickname, "Man of Steel". In addition, he had the reputation of being able to take fearsome punishment and still rally to win, reinforcing that nickname. At fifteen, while completing his education at Gary’s Froebel High School, Zale entered his first fight at the Chicago Arena. Zale, who held the world middleweight title multiple times, was known as a crafty boxer and strong body puncher who punished his opponents and steadily wore them down before knocking them out. Zale was a two-time world middleweight champion and made The Ring's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. Zale is best remembered for his three bouts over a 21-month period with Rocky Graziano for the middleweight crown. These three bouts were among the most brutal and exciting middleweight championship matches of all time. The first match took place in Yankee Stadium, New York City. Zale had served in World War II, was thirty-three years old, and had been inactive for about four years. Graziano was on a winning knockout streak and seemed to be in his prime. In their first match (September 27, 1946), after flooring Graziano in the first round, Zale took a savage beating from Graziano, and was on the verge of losing the fight by TKO. However, he rallied and knocked out Graziano in the sixth round to retain his title. The rematch, a year later in Chicago (July 16, 1947), was a mirror image of their first fight. Graziano was battered around the ring, suffered a closed eye and appeared ready to lose by a knockout, then rallied and knocked Zale out in the sixth round, becoming middleweight champion of the world. Their last fight was held in New Jersey the following year (June 10, 1948). Zale regained his crown, winning the match by a knockout in the third round. The knockout blows consisted of a perfect combination of a right to Graziano's body, then a left hook to Graziano's jaw. Graziano was knocked unconscious. This fight was Zale's last hurrah.