The Muscato Family

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First Family, Buffalo Boxing

In the world of heavyweight boxing, it is rare to find brothers who rise to the upper levels of the sport and remain consistently competitive. But in the 1940’s Buffalo boxing meant the Muscato brothers – Joe, Phil and Sam from Dunkirk, New York. Phil and Joe rose to the top ten in the world heavyweight rankings, and forever changed the face of the sport in Western New York.

Phil Muscato, the younger brother, is considered by many to be the best heavyweight in Buffalo boxing history, ranking 2nd behind Billy Conn by Ring Magazine in the 1940’s. He fought 32 main events and holds two of the biggest record-drawing crowds at the old Aud. He faced many of the best of his era including Angelo Sotillo, Harry Matthews, Archie Moore and Rocky Marciano.

Older brother Joe began his career as an amateur, winning 5 AAU titles, 2 Niagara District light heavyweight Golden Gloves titles, the All America Diamond Belt Amateur Boxing Championships, and Western New York and New Jersey’s Tri-County Diamond Belt heavyweight titles. As a pro, Joe stunned the crowd in Cleveland when he KO’d the number two-ranked Lem Franklin, marking his 13th consecutive pro victory. At one time, he was ranked 6th in the world. With World War II calling, Joe put his career on hold and served in the South Pacific where he engaged in 45 exhibition bouts and won the South Pacific heavyweight crown. He returned a decorated war hero after being struck in both legs by shrapnel, and was awarded the Purple Heart when enemy planes bombarded his unit.

After they retired, the Muscato brothers contributed to the boxing community in other ways – through teaching and influencing young boxing talent. The children of Joe Muscato furthered the tradition by hosting amateur bouts and establishing a travelling boxing museum. Their endeavors so moved former Buffalo Mayor Jim Griffin that he dedicated a room in city hall for the boxing Hall of Fame and memorabilia.