Wednesday, July 04, 2007


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PHOTOS: At the top, Primo's villa built in the 1930's in Sequals that is now converted into a museum for all his memorabilia. Next photo; Primo Carnera and Max Baer posing in civilian clothes with Jack Dempsey (1933); next photo; Primo Carnera, circa 1933. Fourth photo from the top; Primo Carnera KOs Jack Sharkey,winning the Heavyweight Championsship 1933. Bottom Photo; Carnera and Max Baer in the ring before their Championship fight; June 1934. All these photos from the Primo Carnera Commerative Calender sent to me courtsey of Doriano Degano.

The photo second from the bottom is from the 'La Nostra Costa Archives' (c.1934). It shows Frank Bragazzi on the right. Better known su per la costa as "Carabiniere", he was often described as being even bigger than Primo Carnera. In the photo with "Carabinere" are Mary and Bepo Ferlizza. All three were part-owners (along with Frank and Pina Micossi) of the Hotel D'Italia in Davenport. All were from the same Region in Italy (Friuli) as Primo Carnera.

This photo just sent me
 by F. John LaBarba,
shows Primo Carnera holding
John's Father, World
Flyweight Champion Fidel LaBarba
   c. 1927).


In "La Nostra Costa" I write about Primo Carnera who was the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion 1933 to 1934. Because Primo was from the Friuli Region (same area that my father was born and raised), he became a great source of pride for 'Bronco' . Doriano Degano, the 'Canadian Furlan' has sent me the above photos of Carnera and also an excellent summary of his history.

Ivan0: You really started the juices flowing for me with your book on "La Nostra Costa".

Attached are some photos taken from Primo Carnera's commemorative calander celebrating his 100th anniversary of his birth. This is Primo's data from a Professional boxing site called boxing records. As you will note Primo was born in Sequals which at the time of his birth was under the province of Udine but today it falls under the jurisdiction of Pordenone. As you know Friuli is comprised of the following four provinces, Udine, Pordenone, Gorizia, and Trieste, these are all in order of population size.

Note Primo's boxing record 104 total bouts 88 wins with 14 losses 2 no contests.

Primo won the Heavy Weight Championship by KO 6th round over Jack Sharkey June 29, 1933 at Madison Square Garden Bowl Long Island NY, 40,000 people in attendance. Primo lost the Heavy Weight Championship against Max Baer June 14, 1934, 11th Round TKO, as it occurred Primo was knocked down 11 times during the bout. However we can also say he got up 11 times as well. No excuses here for our fellow Furlan but I really think after winning the title Primo did not focus as much as he should have and became very distracted during his title reign. Too many guest appearances too much time away from the ring and subsequently as we all know Primo suffered the most devastating experience in the ring. One of his opponents Ernie Shaaf died during their bout in 1933.. just prior to fighting Sharkey for the title.

This all combined to affect Primo negatively. Also Primo was very strong naturally and he could take a tremendous punishment. As I mentioned before Primo was an extremely agile boxer for his size, he developed and maintained an excellent left jab and did extremely well with smaller much faster opponents. As you know Primo's size was a hindrance as well, similar to George Foreman the shear size and weight tired him out... as you will note Primo contained hugh muscles and his hand size was almost 2 times the size of a regular man during his time.
The attached photographs show a few details of his career as a professional boxer; boxing photos of his younger days, Primo shaking Max Baer's Hand agreeing to fight him with Jack Dempsey in the back ground, etc.

During Primo's time prior to and after winning the Heavy Weight Championship, Mussolini's Fascists used Primo to promote the Fascist superman machine to the entire world. They dictated to Primo to wear the black shirt at all events promoting his Fascist roots. However, as soon as Primo lost the Heavy Weight Championship Mussolini and the fascist party wrote him off. This gets better, during his return to Italy after loosing the title and during the war Primo supported the partisans, since his home town Sequals is located in the pre-Alps where most of the Paritsans held their own against the enemy. Primo made certain that anything and everything the Partisans needed was delivered to them in order to win the war against Fascism.

According to reports, the Fascists tried to punish Primo for his anti-Fascist exercises and a couple of Fascist officers questioned Primo. The questioning turned very ugly and two of the Fascist officers ended up stabing Primo in the back with a bale hook, Primo lived with an ugly scar on his back. I do not know what happened to the Fascist soldiers, but I would imagine Primo busted them up. Once the Allies started up towards the Northern territories of Italy and into Friuli a couple of American Infantry companies were warmly greeted by Carnera into his home, he took out the food and wine and made sure they were well looked after.. Typical Furlan...

Primo Carnera

The Ambling Alp
Sequals, Italy
Sequals, Italy
Date of Birth
Date of Death
Age at Death
85½ inches
6' 5½
W 88 (72 ko's) (+ 1 news) L 14 D 0 Total 104


doriano said...

Come stai mio caro amico?
Reviewing your blog again. There is one very important factor about Primo Carnera that I failed to cover. That is Primo Carnera was a diabetic. That is right. Primo fought the majority of his career with diabetes. He lost a kidney due to complications from being diabetic. Even after having his kidney removed Primo fought a few more years. And he also Wrestled without a kidney as well.
Interesting information. Not trying to make excuses for our fellow Furlan. However as I always stated the facts are as noted. Lets not jump to conclusions when judging someone.

Ciao e Mandi


Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Thanks Doriano: This is an excellent summary of the history on "DA Preem". It supplements quite well what I write about him in "La Nostra Costa". ivn0

F. John LaBarba said...


Somehow I missed this post. I knew Primo Carnera when I was a child growing up in Los Angeles. He and his wife Pina, were close friends o to my mother & father. Ivano, as you know, my father was Fidel LaBarba. Italian American, Olympic Gold Medal winner, ( 1924 Games ) and Worlds Flyweight Boxing Champion of the world in 1927.

Primo would carry me around on his shoulders, and I would have to watch my head to make sure we would clear the archways of his Spanish Style Home.

When I was six years old I remember my foot next to his and thinking it would take at least seven of my feet to fill his shoe. He was a very kind hearted man.

I am adding a link to a tribute page about my father.
I have a photo of my dad, Primo, and Boxer Pete Sanstol, but can't figure out how to post it.

Let me what to do.


F. John LaBarba / Santa Cruz, CA

Canadian Furlan said...

Hey John LaBarba
This is great news!! I know of your Father Fidel excellent boxer and after boxing excellent career as a sports writer. This fantastic information. I am a big time loyal boxing Fan. Especially of the old time era because these men worked and boxed at the same time. They did not have the big pay days as they have today. I know some of them fighting every other week. Now try staying in physical condition while working and boxing now that takes someone devoted. Great info and if you have more photos that would be great. Yes Primo Carnera was a BIG man in many ways. Take care and thanks for this excellent information.