|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - September 10, 2018|
Obituary by John DiSanto
Former South Philly middleweight Dick Young passed away on September 10th (2018). Born Richard E. Young on May 18, 1939 in South Philadelphia, Dick fought as a professional 160-pounder in a career that spanned eight years (1959-1967). He faced a number of top boxers including George Benton, Henry Hank, Von Clay, and Ike White.
Young was raised in South Philly along with two brothers and one sister, and loved boxing from an early age. He graduated from Bok Vocational Technical School, where he played football and studied tailoring.
The day after
finishing at Bok, Young joined the US Air Force. It was in
that he began fighting as an amateur. He won a number of
tournaments and eventually earned a military middleweight
championship. After serving in the Air Force, Young returned
to Philadelphia and launched his boxing career. Trained by
Joe Polino, Young worked alongside Joey Giardello at the
Passyunk Gym in South Philly, and later sparred with Joe
Frazier, at the future heavyweight champ’s North Philly gym.
The rangy, six-feet,
one-inch, Young won 13
straight bouts to begin his career (13-0, 8 KO), beating the
likes of Ike White (twice, W6 & TKO6), Charley Cotton
(TKO8), and Mel Collins (W6). [Editor's Note: some newspaper
reports claim he won 15 straight, with 10 KOs.]
Young’s defeat of Charlie Cotton in 1961 appeared to be a star-making victory for the young prospect. With just nine bouts under his belt, Young faced the 73-fight veteran at the Alhambra, more or less his home office.
Coming off the floor in round six, Young refused to play it safe by running from Cotton, as his corner suggested, after the knockdown. Instead, Young opted to surprise his experienced foe by coming right at him in round seven. It was a gamble that paid off.
In round seven, Young battered a flabbergasted Cotton along the ropes, and then in the eighth, dropped the Toledo fighter three times to win by automatic TKO. It was the biggest win of his career.
The victory suggested that Young was ready for bigger and better opponents, an idea that the rising star liked the sound of. “It’s okay with me,” he said. “The tougher the fight, the more you learn.” A Madison Square Garden scout was in the audience that night, and seemed to agree that Young was ready for the big stage. However, a fight at the New York City boxing Mecca never materialized for the Philly fighter.
After beating Cotton, Young won three more bouts, before suffering his first pro defeat against Von Clay, when he briefly ventured into the light heavyweight division for a scheduled 10-rounder at the Arena on October 22, 1962. Clay stopped Young in the fifth round.
After the Clay bout, Young began to checkerboard fights, alternating between wins and losses, until the end of his run. In his next bout, he defeated Lino Rendon in the main event at the Blue Horizon (TKO4) in 1963. He remained at light heavyweight for this fight, in hopes of a return match against Clay. However in his next time out, one month later, Young fell to legend Henry Hank. This win-one-lose-one pattern continued through 1967.
In the second half of his career, Young posted a 4-5 record, pushing his final tally to 17-5, 12 KO. In his final bout, Young lost to Philly icon George Benton (KO4), at the Arena on October 2, 1967.
After his boxing career came to a close, Young went to work for SEPTA (Southeastern Transportation Authority) as a bus driver. Eventually, he worked his way up to a job as a Group Lead, laying electrical lines for the company. He retired from SEPTA in 2004.
Known as “Richie” to his family and friends, Young never married or had children. He is remembered by his loved ones, including his siblings, nieces, and nephews, as a big-hearted, kind soul who was also very tough and strong.
Living alone, Richie Young died on September 10, 2018, from heart failure. He was 79 years old.
[Editor’s Note: A special thank you to Dick Young’s “little sister”, Ida Dandridge, who informed us of his passing and provided much personal information about him.]