Augie Pantellas: The Broomal Bomber Fights Again at 65!
By Ken Hissner, DoghouseBoxing (Mar 20, 2009) Photo ©  
They say you can’t keep a good man down! Augie Pantellas, the man who had a huge following from 1967-1971 in Philly fights on April 3rd in a 3 round exhibition (1 minute per round). Damon Feldman will be putting on a celebrity boxing event at the Philly Airport Ramada in Essington with “Bad Boy of Hollywood Dads”, father of Lindsay, Michael Lohan against Rocco from Q102.1. Some of the proceeds will go to the family of recently murdered Philadelphia policeman John Pawlowski.

“I will enter the ring with the sign of the cross and the star of David on my robe,” said Broomal’s legendary banger who finished up his career in 1979 with a rematch win over Trenton’s Sammy Goss. Little did I know a month ago at the gym of his former trainer, Marty Feldman, watching him hit the heavy bag just what he was training for.

At Upper Darby H.S. Pantellas was a state wrestling runner-up when a friend took him to Feldman at the Passyunk gym. Pantellas started his career in Boston with a 2nd round knockout over Hank Smith. This little Greek super featherweight could really wallop with either hand. His trainer Feldman said, “anyone he hit was a stretcher case.” A month later he found himself in with tough Luis Lopez at the Philly Arena getting dropped once and getting stopped in the 4th. “I got hit with a good shot,” said Pantellas. Back to Walpole, Mass inside of a month (no 30 day suspension?) he was up against debuting Nick Spanakos, a member of the same 1960 Olympic team that Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) was on. Spanakos was also a Chicago and New York Golden Gloves champ. Though losing a decision, Pantellas must have banged hard enough because Spanakos never fought again. “He was a good boxer,” said Pantellas.

Returning to Philly’s Convention Hall, Pantellas would start a 19 fight win streak and won the hearts of the fans. Giving away 10 pounds to Johnny Keulian he scored a 4 round decision win. In his 6th fight he stopped Hector Garrido, 7-6-4, of New York, who would never fight again after absorbing the punches of Pantellas.

A pair of decision wins over Rocky Orengo and Willie Battles were followed up with knockout wins in rematches. In March of 1969 a big knockout win stopped the 7 fight win streak of Canada’s Rocky Gil Boulay, 16-3-3. Three fights later Pantellas stopped New York’s Castro Ramirez, 7-1, in the 6th round. Then came a spoiler in Ruben DeJesus, 5-16-3, who two fight’s previously upset Pat Kivlin, then 14-0-1. It was a war and the Spanish fans were in an uproar when Pantellas got the split decision. I know because I was in the upper deck of the Arena with my brother and the Spanish fans were throwing anything they could get their hands on. We stayed “locked” in our seats in case they got any ideas! It had stopped an 8 straight knockout streak by Pantellas.

Next up 4 weeks later would be the same Kivlin that DeJesus had won a split decision over. Pantellas stopped him in the 4th round. Next would be his 14th knockout in his last 19 wins setting the stage for the then biggest fight of his career with Trenton’s Sammy Goss, 18-1, at Philly’s Spectrum. Goss was 9-0 in Philly rings and an outstanding amateur. Over 10,000 fans filled the Spectrum for this showdown fight in October of 1970. Goss would take a majority decision snapping the 19 fight winning streak of Pantellas. “Goss moved too much for me to catch him with any solid punches,” said Pantellas.

In November Goss was stopped by future WBC super featherweight champion Mexico’s Ricardo Arrendondo, 50-4, in the 5th round. The latter squeezed in 2 more knockouts before meeting Pantellas in January of 1971. This fight is still talked about by Philly fight fans remembering how Pantellas dropped Arrendondo in the 9th round. “I got hurt in the 10th and tried to hold on but the referee stopped it. It was only the 2nd time I was ever knocked down,” said Pantellas. “He was a world class puncher. Arrendondo one of the all time best Mexican fighters and Pantellas had him on the floor,” said J. Russell Peltz. “He got robbed in this fight. Two rounds earlier he was in trouble, but in the 10th he was slipping punches when the ref stopped the fight,” said Feldman.

Two months later Pantellas followed up with a pair of knockout wins before fighting Ecuador’s Miguel Herrera, 14-17-1, who had a very misleading record. He had been in with the likes of champions Johnny Famechon and Jose Legra, while losing a decision for the South American title to contender Godfrey Stevens. Goss was all set to meet Pantellas the following month, but Herrera upset the apple cart with a 10 round decision win in May of 1971. With the loss Pantellas went into retirement for 6 years.

“I had gone to an Oral Roberts tent revival at 10 and accepted the Lord, but at 23 my life drifted into drugs, the Beatles and rock'n’roll. I was gone, totally lost. Name something bad and I was into it,” said Pantellas. Twenty years later my mom took me to a revival meeting in 1977 and I became born again. I found Jesus, and decided to make a comeback and had white trunks with a red cross on them,” he added. He also had a new promoter in Peltz Boxing. Reading’s Lou Lucchesse had guided his career prior to that. His original trainer Marty Feldman was also back with him.

Two knockout wins followed before meeting Mexico’s Roberto Quintanilla, 29-4, who had won 10 of his last 11 fights. Pantellas would take a 10 round decision at the Spectrum. Colombia’s Isaac Vega, 6-4, would be next 7 months later. He had a loss to future world champ Aaron Pryor on his record. Pantellas would score a 5th round technical knockout win. A 10 round decision win over Ramon Contreras, 8-5, would follow. Contreras had been in with future champs Bobby Chacon and Ruben Castillo.

Next would be the highest ranked opponent that Pantellas would face in his career in Chacon, 38-4, in September of 1978. Pantellas had a 5 fight win streak. Chacon was a year away from fighting for the title. Pantellas was trying to match Chacon punch for punch but was dropped twice in the 6th round. He managed to come out for the 7th before referee Tommy Reid stopped it. This was a fight that should have happened 6 years before.

The gallant warrior with knockout power in both hands had one fight left in him. There would be a rematch with Goss in January of 1979. Instead of the Spectrum before over 10,000 people they would fight at the much smaller Upper Darby Forum. When they fought over 8 years ago Goss was 18-1, but now had a 42-10-2 record. It was a hard fought 10 round battle that found Goss on the deck once and Pantellas declared the winner. It would be the end of the line going out a winner. At least for 30 years!

In 2007 Pantellas was inducted into the Pennsylvania Hall of Fame. Feldman, Peltz and many fans of the Broomal Bomber were there as he got a standing ovation and the words, “Augie, Augie” still rang out. I couldn’t believe how young he still looked. Pantellas finished with a record of 28-6 and 20 big knockouts. The little David had won over a Goliath of fans over the years and received the highest award a boxer can receive in Pennsylvania some 40 years after that first knockout in Boston!

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