By Jim Amato

In 1993 I contacted a man named Jim Borgen answering an ad in a magazine. He was a boxing memorabilia collector and I was looking for boxing books. After our conversation, Jim invited me to a sports bar in the Youngstown area to watch the live broadcast of the Bowe – Holyfield rematch, (The Fan Man fight). We have been friends ever since.

In the early years of our friendship Jim often mentioned Sal Marino. Sal was a respected and influential man in the Youngstown boxing area. It would be over five years before I would actually meet Sal. We met at a boxing banquet outside of Youngstown in 1999. We seemed to hit it off and over the years Sal took me under his wing. Sal and Jim became mentors to me. Over the next decade I learned so much about the rich boxing history of the Youngstown area from these two men. I learned about Tony Janiro and Sonny Horne. About Tommy Bell and Lenny “Boom Boom” Mancini (Ray’s Dad) and of course Harry Arroyo, Greg Richardson, Ray Mancini, Jeff Lampkin and a young Kelly Pavlik.

Sal was President and co-founder of the Trumbull County (Ohio) Legends Of Leather Boxing Club. Although he loved boxing he was also well versed in other sports such as football and baseball. At times he had his own newspaper column and radio sports talk show. He was a charming and personable man with a quick wit. He was also a very caring individual. When I had some serious health problems a few years back, Sal and Jim stayed in close contact. Sal even sent me a blessed rosary. That sure meant a lot to me.

In 2006 Sal nominated me for the Legends Of Leather Hall Of Fame. I was inducted later that year. The trophy and ring I received are among my prize possessions. Sal passed away a few years ago after a brave battle with cancer. Although I only knew Sal for a decade or so he had a fatherly type influence on me. I miss our phone conversations and seeing him at the yearly Legends Of Leather banquets. I know he is greatly missed by his family and friends who are trying to keep the Legends of Leather going. I am honored to say he was my friend. Rest in peace Sal…

Jim Amato

Filed under: Boxing

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