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Bruno Arcari: story of the most reserved boxing champion and of how he taught us to love boxing

By Egle Damini / LUZ
Born in Atina - province of Frosinone - in 1942, Bruno Arcari is one of the protagonists of the most glorious years of Italian boxing. When he was but a child, Arcari moved with his family to Genoa and took his first steps in the boxing ring at Mameli Gym.

I was fourteen years old and played football on the left wing, but I always had a fight with everyone. You could do some boxing, I was told. I was curious and so I went into the gym with someone else, who then left. I instead stayed. Bruno Arcari

The future champion had to juggle between the ring and the fruit stand, where he worked to support his passion. He found his way and he wanted to go through it at any cost, like when he hides in the trunk of a FIAT Giardiniera of a group of older friends: he wanted to go to Milan and see his idol, Italian boxer Duilio Loi, fighting live.

Duilio Loi becomes world welters champion
Bruno Arcari is short. Just 1.65 m and with big legs - " too big for boxing", as the coaches once told him - but he still managed to turn every obstacle into a challenge to overcome. The hard work was repaid and the Italian amateur championship brought home two consecutive victories in 1962 and 1963. The following year, he was finally able to get into the professional ring, making his debut at the Palasport in Rome.

Tenacity, discipline and respect for his opponents are the three fundamental pillars that have accompanied Arcari throughout his career, but they have not been his only features: with them, a deadly left fist. His Achilles' heel, on the other hand, has been the brow ridge: it took little to make it bleed and the opponents quickly noticed it.

The power of determination
Just during the debut match, Arcari is defeated by Franco Colella, who hit him with the head to the eyebrow forcing him to get out of the ring in the 5th round, despite being ahead. Same scene two years later, against Massimo Consolati. After ten consecutive victories, the referee closed the match with a bloody Arcari, but in the lead.

These are the only two defeats of an impeccable career in the ring. For Bruno Arcari in fact, boxing was a passion and a job, and doing it at his best was his only duty.

Arcari did not give up: he trained hard to improve the right guard and to defend his weak point. In the meantime, he continued to strengthen his left fist. In the same year, he was granted a well-deserved rematch against Consolati, who still tried to win by aiming (unfairly) at that crystal fragile eyebrow. This time, however, Arcari got the better of him and was thus consecrated as Italian champion of the light welterweight.

From that moment on, Bruno Arcari would have not lost any other match, becoming a legend. He arrived at the European Championships in 1968 beating all his opponents, ready to subtract the title from the then reigning champion, the Austrian "Hans" Orsolics. Arcari defeated him in the 12th round by a technical knockout, forcing the referee to interrupt the match. He had no more opponents in Europe and was ready to face the world champion.

Bruno Arcari defends his title in 1972
During the match with the world champion, the Filipino Pedro Ardigue, Arcari started out on the back foot because of his lack of stage presence, but that was part of his character: he had to show everything in the ring with his resilience and consistency. Nonetheless, he was clearly in a disadvantage. Pedro Adigue settled a series of hooks that almost knocked him down.

Then, the Italian champion reacted. The two boxers finish the match exhausted, behind them, 15 rounds have come and gone. The match turned into a score competition. On January 31, 1970, the boxer from Atina was finally proclaimed World Champion in the super-light category.

Arcari becomes world light welterweight champion
He maintained the title until 1974, defending it 9 times. On September 2, 1974, Arcari renounced his title and retired from the light welterweight boxing world, boasting a record-breaking career: 73 matches, 70 victories and only 2 defeats for injury.

His entire career has been characterized by an evocative, but often misunderstood search for coherence: by a yearning need for simplicity, for humble, true things. This is how and why the greatest of our boxers [ ... ] has become also the least applauded. Orlando Giuliano, the history of boxing

Returning to the silence and privacy that have always distinguished him, Bruno Arcari now lives in Liguria with his family and is honorary president of Boxing Spezzina. He is still considered as the strongest boxer of all time in Italy, a living legend that still inspires thousands of athletes both in and out of Italy.

The noble art of boxing

Bravery, speed, strategy, respect. Boxing is an ancient sport and rich in values, which have earned it the title of "noble art" since the seventeenth century. Practiced at a competitive level since the dawn of classical civilization, it reached its golden age between the 1960s and 1990s.
Vintage boxing gloves
At the time, boxing was one of the most popular and transversally acclaimed sports, followed and appreciated by an extremely heterogeneous public. From the Hollywood star to the suburban blue collar, everyone wanted to watch the match of their favourite champions live and admire their tenacity, physical power and speed of blows. As Arcari himself once commented:

Boxing in the 60s and 70s was a great world. On board the ring there were people from show business and cinema, from TV, popular faces who came to see us and made us, in turn, popular.

However, it wasn't just showmanship in the ring. Boxing was a sport made up of sacrifices, of strenuous side jobs made to scrape together the money needed to keep on competing, of training sessions that led to more fights every month, of prizes and glory gained through punches and elbows in the face.

Boxing was a violent sport, but with a strict code of honour and a religious respect for the opponent: a sport where winning against the opponent meant overcoming your fears and insecurities first.

Whoever won so much, as in the case Arcari, to keep winning he had to remain always humble, trying reach for the stars while remaining with the feet always on the ground, in a reality made of great triumphs midst a roaring crowd as well as of days spent in small and dusty gyms soaked with sweat and passion.

Not having loved him very much, people immediately forgot him; having had to endure him, many critics no longer sought him out. Bruno Arcari has stayed in his silences and habits, but he has been, in the modern history of our boxing, the only unbeatable boxer. Orlando Giuliano, the history of boxing.

The life and history of Arcari make us rediscover the boxing of the past, where sacrifice and passion were combined and made the noble art simpler, more beautiful and more legendary.

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