By David R. Ruff
As a boy of 18 years I used to get the Ring magazine. One month, reading an article, I got interested in a heavyweight contender named John “Dino” Dennis. The article had his manager’s address in Mass.; the manager was Al Braverman. I wrote Al a letter asking for Dennis’ autograph. Al never responded. But as of today’s date, I did get an autograph from John Dino Dennis.
John Dino Dennis was born in Trieste, Italy, on April 22 of 1951. He got interested in boxing from the start, I guess. He won the New England Golden Gloves championships in 1970, 1971, and 1972. He also won the New England AAU championships in 1970 and 1971. He lost in the finals at the national Golden Gloves in Fort Worth, Texas in 1970; lost in the semifinals of the national Golden Gloves championship to Duane Bodick in 1971. He turned pro in 1972. He won the New England heavyweight championship in 1974, and held the title from 1974 to 1983, retiring undefeated. He had his first nationally televised fight in 1976, fighting Scott LeDux. That was the win that put him in the top 10.
He fought George Forman in 1976; Forman’s record at the time was 20-0-1. Dennis gave a good account of himself in that fight. He fought and lost to Leroy Jones in Texas in 1977. He fought and lost to Gerry Cooney at Madison Square Garden in 1979. Again, he gave a good account of himself. He fought and lost to Joe Bugner, the European heavyweight champion, in London in 1983. He fought on the undercard of Jerry Quianra and Ron Lyle. He fought on the undercard and won on the Joe Fraser/Ali second fight. He boxed with Ali in two exhibitions in 1972 and 1979. He also boxed in training camp with Jerry Quarry and ex-champ Jimmy Ellis.
I must say, after watching Dennis in a couple of DVDs, he was like most New England fighters: very tough, a fan favorite, and one of my all-time favorite fighters. Way to go, John Dino Dennis!