Vintage Sports Autographs

Stars of the Past

Muhammad Ali  (1942-2016)

Heavyweight—World Champion 1964-67,1974-78,1978-79   [A.P Athlete of the Year 1974, Hickock Belt 1974]

When will they ever have another fighter who writes poems, predicts rounds, beats everybody, makes people laugh, makes people cry, and is as tall and extra-pretty as me?  In the history of the world from the beginning of time, there's never been another fighter like me.
    Muhammad Ali




These three autographs of Muhammad Ali are in my collection. I imagine he has signed many of the Islam tracts for requesters.  These and other Islam tracts occasionally appear on e-Bay auctions with beginning bids of about $120.  I once made the mistake of mentioning that I had an Ali autograph to Gene Fullmer when I was in his boxing gym in Riverton, Utah.  He and his brothers, Don and Jay, gave me an earful of what they thought about "that draft dodger."

Watch a video clip of the 1965 bout between Ali and Floyd Patterson.  Watch a video clip showing career highlights of Ali.  Watch a video clip of Ali explaining the punch he used to floor Sonny Liston.

Lou Ambers  (1913-1995)

Lightweight—World Champion 1936-38, 1938-40  [International Boxing Hall of Fame 1992, career: 88 wins, 8 losses, 6 draws]

This 1936 Art Krenz cartoon is one of two autographed by Lou Ambers in my collection.  The other is a 1941 Tom Paprocki cartoon.   The Krenz cartoon mistakenly states that Tony Canzoneri broke Ambers's jaw in a 1936 bout, but Ambers sent me the above note rectifying the mistake.  It makes it doubly interesting to know that Ambers read the text of the drawing rather than just quickly signing it.

Ambers was a tough fighter who made up for lack of boxing skill with gutsiness. The "Herkimer Hurricane" had lost only once in more than three years as a professional when he met lightweight champion Tony Canzoneri on May 10, 1935. He lost a 15-round decision, then won his next 15 fights and took the lightweight championship by decisioning Canzoneri in 15 rounds on Sept. 3, 1936.  He lost the title in what might have been his greatest fight. Matched against Henry Armstrong on Aug. 17, 1938, Ambers was knocked down twice, in the fifth and sixth rounds, and appeared to be badly beaten, but he came back strongly and lost a controversial split decision.  He regained the title with a 15-round decision over Armstrong on Aug. 22, 1939, then was knocked out in the 3rd round by Lew Jenkins on May 10, 1940. In his last fight, a rematch, he was knocked out by Jenkins in the 7th round on Feb. 28, 1941.

Watch a video clip of Ambers battling Henry Armstrong.

Art "Golden Boy" Aragon  (1928-2008)

Welterweight/Lightweight— [California Boxing Association Hall of Fame 2006; career: 90 wins, 20 losses, 6 draws]

He was the perfect combination—showman, fighter and rat.
    Jackie McCoy




Art Aragon autographed this 1951 Tom Paprocki cartoon and kindly sent me this personalized autographed photo.  The cut signature is from his return address on the large envelope.

Watch a video clip of a candid interview with Art Aragon.

Carmen Basilio  (1927-2012)

Middleweight/Welterweight—World Champion 1953-57  [International Boxing Hall of Fame 1990, 56 wins, 7 draws, 16 losses]

I love boxing.  I loved every minute of it, every round in the gym, every skip of the rope and every foot on the road.  The fights were the dessert.
    Carmen Basilio



Carmen Basilio autographed this 1959 Ev Thorpe cartoon, also dual signed by Gene Fullmer.

Watch a video clip of Basilio beating Sugar Ray Robinson in a title fight.  Watch a video clip of a Basilio interview.

Billy "The Pittsburgh Kid" Conn  (1917-1993)

Light Heavyweight—World Champion 1939-41 [career: 64 W, 10 L]

Conn is three times a better boxer than I am.
    Joe Louis



This 1940 Tom Paprocki cartoon is one of three different Pap cartoons autographed by Billy Conn in my collection; the others are from 1940 and 1941.  I also have an unsigned 1939 cartoon that has the earmarks of being drawn by Jack Sords that was signed twice by Conn.

Watch a video clip of an epic match between Conn and Joe Louis in 1941.

Gene Fullmer  (1931-2015)

Middleweight—World Champion 1957-63  [International Boxing Hall of Fame 1991, career: 55 wins, 6 losses, 3 draws]


This 1958 Ev Thorpe cartoon is one of five cartoons autographed by Gene Fullmer in my collection.  The others date from 1956 thru 1961.  He signed most of them for me when he had a boxing gym in Riverton, Utah.  He is a second cousin to my wife.

Watch a video clip of the Fullmer-Benny Paret title fight in 1961.  Watch a video clip of an interview with Fullmer.

Jay Fullmer  (1937-2015)

Welterweight [career: 20 wins, 5 losses, 2 draws]



Jay Fullmer autographed this Ev Thorpe cartoon for me at his gym in Riverton, Utah.

Fullmer was a promising welterweight with an impressive record until an eye injury ended his career prematurely.

Rocky Graziano  (1922-1990)

Middleweight—World Champion 1947  [International Boxing Hall of Fame 1971, career: 67 wins, 10 losses, 6 draws]

I never stole anything unless it began with an "A". . ."A" truck, "A" car, "A" payroll.
    Rocky Graziano



Watch a video clip of a 1952 title bout between Graziano and Sugar Ray Robinson.

Jay Lambert  (1926-2012)

Heavyweight—Olympic Games 1948—quarterfinals; NAAU champion 1948 [career:  pro 8 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw; Utah Sports Hall of Fame 1977]

He never hurt me . . . but I probably never hurt him either.
    Jay Lambert, speaking about
    Johnny Arthur, South African
    boxer who beat him in quarterfinal bout of 1948 Olympics



Jay Lambert autographed this 1948 Ev Thorpe cartoon.   He was buried in Wasatch Memorial Lawn, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Joey Maxim  (1922-2001)

Light Heavyweight—World Champion 1950-52  [International Boxing Hall of Fame 1994, career: pro 1941-59, 82 wins, 29 losses, 4 draws]

Sure, we had some fights.  But I always came out worse than she did.  I take more than I dish out.
    Joey Maxim, on responding to his
     wife's reason for filing for divorce




Joey Maxim autographed this 1950 Tom Paprocki cartoon and sent me the personalized signed photo.  He was a greeter at a Las Vegas casino for several years and probably signed a lot of these photos.

Watch a video clip of Maxim losing his title in 1952 to Archie Moore.

Gaspar "El Indio" Ortega  (1935-    )

Welterweight [World Boxing Hall of Fame 1995; career: 131 wins, 39 losses, 6 draws, 1953-65]

Benny Paret was a tough fighter but he could never beat me.
    Gaspar Ortega



Gaspar Ortega autographed this 1957 Tom Paprocki cartoon.

Floyd Patterson  (1935-2006)

Heavyweight—World Champion, Olympic Games—middleweight Gold Medal [career: 55 wins, 8 losses, 1 draw, 1952-72]

They said I was the fighter who got knocked down the most, but I also got up the most.
    Floyd Patterson


Watch a video clip of Patterson in a bout against George Chuvalo in 1965.  Watch a video clip showing career highlights of Patterson with his commentary.

Pete Rademacher (1928-    )

Heavyweight—Olympic Games—1956 Gold Medal [career: 15 wins, 7 losses, 1 draw]

I knew that Rocky Marciano was retiring as the undefeated Heavyweight Champ. I knew that Cus D’ Amato, Doc Kearns and Archie Moore were going to get together with Floyd Patterson and fight for the vacant title. I thought that if I could win that Olympic Gold that I would have a shot to fight for the title. When I came home I called two friends who had some money. We called Cus and proposed the idea. He said it would take $250,000 guaranteed. We called back in two days, signed the contract, and went into serious training.  I made one mistake in that fight; I knocked him down and made him mad. I was excited at first and then I thought STAY DOWN. But he got up and my amateur conditioning began to show and he KO’D me in the 6th.  I think that had I been ten rounds once or twice in my life that I could have beat Patterson. Mechanically I was solid; I just didn’t have the stamina and endurance.

      Pete Rademacher, on being the only man

      in boxing history to fight for the heavyweight title in his first pro bout 



Pete Rademacher autographed this 1957 Tom Paprocki cartoon for me in September 2010.

Jonas Salk  (1914-1995)

Medical Research—Polio Vaccine

I could have studied the immunological properties of, say, the tobacco mosaic virus, published my findings, and they would have been of some interest.  But the fact that I chose to work on the polio virus, which brought control of a dreaded disease, made all the difference.
    Jonas Salk



This boxing-themed 1954 Ham Fisher cartoon is the reason for including medical researcher Jonas Salk in this boxing category of autographs.  I was really surprised that he signed it, but he must have had a good sense of humor.  I'll bet he had a chuckle over seeing this.  I would estimate the value of this boxing-themed autograph exceeds that of any of my other boxing autographs.  It is really unique.

Watch a video clip newsreel footage of Salk's discovery of a vaccine to combat polio in 1955.  Watch a video clip of an interview with Salk.

Billy Soose  (1917-1998)

Middleweight—World Champion 1941  [International Boxing Hall of Fame 2009, career: 34 wins, 6 losses, 1 draw]



This 1941 Jack Sords cartoon is one of two in my collection autographed by Billy Soose. The other is a 1941 Tom Paprocki cartoon.

Chico Vejar  (1931-    )

Welterweight—1952-56  [career: 92 wins, 20 losses, 4 draws]




This 1952 cartoon drawn by Tom Paprocki was autographed by Chico Vejar in November 2010.  He also generously signed two 3x5 cards and sent three 8x10 photos, one of which he signed.

Watch a video clip of Chico Vejar fighting Carmine Fiore on Dec. 19, 1951. 

Tony Zale  (1913-1997)

Middleweight—World Champion 1940-47,1948  [International Boxing Hall of Fame 1991, career: 70 wins, 16 losses, 2 draws]

I got nothing against him, he's a nice guy.  But I wanted to kill him.
    Rocky Graziano, on how he felt
    when he had Tony Zale in a corner




It would have been wonderful to have had this 1948 Alan Maver cartoon signed by both Zale and Graziano.  Unfortunately Graziano had died before I found this cartoon.  I have two other cartoons signed by Zale: a different 1948 Maver and a 1940 Jack Sords.

Watch a video clip of the 1948 title bout between Zale and Graziano.