On June 7, 2014 Augie Pantellas will be 70 years old and attempting to win another professional boxing match. Pantellas, once a junior lightweight contender, was last seen in a prizefight on January 30, 1979 where he avenged a loss to 1968 Olympian and former NABF super featherweight champion Sammy Goss. But that will be 35 years ago, the halfway mark of "The Greek Bomber's" life thus far. So what makes him think he's still got what it takes to fight at his advanced age? In one word: faith.
"Without Jesus I could never do this...he's in my corner, he gives me the power of the Holy Spirit, so we're just going to try for this Guinness [World Record]."
Pantellas, out of Philadelphia, debuted back in the late 1960s originally campaigning as a featherweight but quickly settled into the super featherweight division. Between 1967 and 1970 he won 19 straight bouts before losing to Goss in 1970, after which he soon fell out of contender status and took a 6 year hiatus from the sport between 1971 and 1977. The only loss Pantellas took in this initial career comeback was to former and future world champion Bobby Chacon, a bonafide hall of famer.
Obviously Pantellas has no plans of fighting someone remotely that serious in his 2nd comeback, aside from jokingly dropping Floyd Mayweather's name like everyone does these days (which sadly usually isn't a joke). When questioned about the weight he would be fighting at now, Pantellas suggested anywhere between junior middleweight and middleweight. He'll leave whether he's 1 and done or taking a series of fights up to god.
But what concerned a few of us at the presser was if Auggie will be sanctioned to fight at all. You may recall that a 52 year old Dewey Bozella went through the ringer to get licensed to fight, emotionally detailed in his documentary "26 Years." However, Bozella had no prior professional experience (despite taking a serious exhibition with future world light heavyweight champion Lou Del Valle). But the Del Valle fight was back when Dewey was still a young man. In Augie's case, he took part in Celebrity Boxing matches at the age of 65. In 2009 Pantellas knocked out Eric "Crazy" Shea and decisioned Kendell "Spartan Warrior" McKay.
Yet, such opponents are still a far cry from 32 year old journeyman pro fighter Josh Beeman, a rumored potential opponent, even if Beeman's only naturally a junior welterweight. I covered Beeman's last fight with Lonnie Jackson Jr for BLH here. His record reads 5-14-4 but he's a capable fighter. Jackson, who was ironically at this presser, acknowledged as much when I said "Josh Beeman can fight" off camera. So unless he comes in to lose, I have my doubts about Beeman as an appropriate opponent.
However, if Pantellas is forced to demonstrate his ability to the state athletic commission via a sparring session, like Bozella had to, you'd expect to see opponents of Beeman's quality. But for all I know that just might happen in Nevada, unfortunately one of the states where Augie's promoter Damon Feldman wants to stage the fight. California and at home in Pennsylvania were other discussed locations. Augie would prefer to do the fight at home where his family and friends can come see him.
Whatever happens I wish Mr. Pantellas luck and hope he stays safe.
This Nov. 14, 2013 presser was put together by Damon Feldman and the Celebrity Team and staged at the Springfield Hyundai outside of southwest Philadelphia. A photo gallery of the event, courtesy of Darryl Cobb Jr, is available atop this page.
Ryan Bivins is a staff writer for BadLeftHook. You can contact him on twitter (@sweetboxing) or through email (firstname.lastname@example.org).