Advertisement: IBO Boxing

Al Certo, a NJ Boxing Legend, Passes Away at The Age of 90

By Thomas Gerbasi

When you hear of writers gravitating to boxing because of the unique people that you will find nowhere else in the sports world, they likely had Al Certo in mind.

A New Jersey boxing legend who participated in all aspects of the sport throughout his storied career, Certo passed away Wednesday afternoon at the age of 90 following complications from a recent surgery on a broken femur.

“He did everything from amateur boxer to pro boxer to cornerman to trainer to manager to promoter,” said his nephew, renowned cutman Danny Milano. “He did it all. And the knowledge he had, I owe my whole boxing life to him. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”


Born Al Certisimo in Hoboken on September 28, 1928, Certo won a Golden Gloves title as an amateur and went 9-1 as a pro from 1953 to 1954. And though a hand injury cut his career short, he remained with the sport he loved, most notably as the trainer for Buddy McGirt, Andrew Golota, Mustafa Hamsho, Vinny Maddalone and the Viruet brothers.

“He didn’t do it for the money, he just loved it,” said Milano, of his uncle, who always kept Certo’s Custom Tailors open in Secaucus for more than half a century, during which time he made suits for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Roselli and Bobby Vinton. “He was best friends with Joey Giardello, Willie Pep, Jersey Joe Walcott – as a matter of fact he was the godfather to Jersey Joe Walcott’s son. All these guys would come down to the tailor shop and I would just sit there and feel like I was at the Boxing Hall of Fame. It was one after the other. And he was a regular guy. He was a man’s man and everybody loved him. He wore his heart on a sleeve and would tell you just how it is. And tell you to go “f” yourself and turn around and take you out to dinner. He had a heart of gold.”

“Gold” was the word boxing writers would most associate with Certo over the years, as he wouldn’t just give them quotes for days, but when you sat down with him for any length of time, you got a master class in the sweet science. Having access to that knowledge was priceless and a reminder that there aren’t many of Certo’s class left in the fight game.

“He taught me everything, between him and Howie Albert, who was a dear friend of his,” said Milano, who celebrated his 30th anniversary in the sport in April. “And he always made time for the writers, for everyone. He would stop in the middle of making a suit when it came to boxing and he would help fighters out. We would go to the amateur fights and he would give the poor kids from Jersey City money. He would goof on them and at the same time hand them some money. He was just a jokester. And people just loved to be around him from all walks of life – white, black, Spanish, everybody loved him.”

There was only one Al Certo. You don’t need to tell Danny Milano that.

“I adored him since I was a kid and I just wanted to be around him all the time,” Milano said. “He was like a second father to me. He was my idol.”

A wake will be held for Al Certo from 2pm-7pm on Saturday, December 29 at Mack Memorial Home on 1245 Paterson Plank Road in Secaucus, NJ.

User Comments and Feedback
Comment by TexasCowBoy on 12-26-2018

Happy Boxing Day!!!

Comment by ShoulderRoll on 12-26-2018

What stands out the most to me about him is his work with Buddy McGirt. And him being disgusted when Andrew Golota quit against Mike Tyson.

Comment by Keleneki on 12-26-2018

Rest in peace, Mr. Certo.

Comment by Sweden2716 on 12-26-2018

Al Certo rest in peace. I remember you from a lot of fights as colorful trainer in the corner of several good fighters. It is a sad day in boxing.

Top Headlines
Davison: Wilder Did Not Look Confident, It Was Round 13 For Fury Fury Fulfilled Pledge He Made 7 Years Ago - To Knock Wilder Out Warren: Wilder's Manager Called, Says Fury Trilogy is Likely Kenny Porter Reacts To Tyson Fury Stopping Wilder Jose Ramirez Reacts To Tyson Fury Stopping Wilder Caleb Plant Reacts To Tyson Fury Stopping Wilder Whyte To Hearn: How About Doing What's Right, Getting My Shot Wilder's Managers Expect Third Fight With Fury To Happen Next Michael Hunter Reacts To Tyson Fury Stopping Wilder Claressa Shields Reacts To Tyson Fury Stopping Wilder Devin Haney Reacts To Tyson Fury Stopping Wilder Thomas Hearns Reacts To Tyson Fury Stopping Wilder Hearn: I Expect Wilder To Request Rematch - Where Else Can He Go? Wilder's Head Trainer: I Don't Think Breland Should’ve Thrown Towel Laila Ali Teases Ring Return For Superfight With Claressa Shields Navarrete: If No Unification Bout Soon - I'll Move Up To 126 Charles Martin: This Has Just Given Me More Confidence Wilder-Fury Rematch Broke Heavyweight Gate Record In Vegas Tyson Fury Smiles: Not Bad For Someone With Pillow Fists! Tyson Fury Beats Down, Drops, Stops Deontay Wilder Charles Martin Takes Down Gerald Washington in Six Emanuel Navarrete Batters, Stops Santisima To Retain Haye: Deontay Wilder's Biggest Downfall is His Biggest Weapon Teofimo Lopez Reacts To Tyson Fury Stopping Wilder SugarHill Steward Reacts To Tyson Fury Stopping Wilder Frank Warren Reacts To Tyson Fury Stopping Wilder Bob Arum Reacts To Tyson Fury Stopping Deontay Wilder Wilder's Trainer Explains Towel Coming in To Stop Fight Tyson Fury Reacts To Stopping Deontay Wilder Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder Rematch - Official Scorecards Deontay Wilder Has 30 Days To Exercise Clause For Fury Trilogy Hearn: I Spoke To Anthony Joshua, He Wants Tyson Fury Next! Wilder Not Happy Corner Stopped Fight, Says Leg Was Wrecked Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder Rematch - CompuBox Punch Stats Tyson Fury Drops Deontay Wilder Twice, Stops Him in Seven Wilder vs. Fury Rematch - LIVE BoxingScene Scorecard Charles Martin Blasts Out Gerald Washington in Sixth Charles Martin-Gerald Washington - LIVE BoxingScene Scorecard Emanuel Navarrete Breaks Down, Stops Santisima in Eleventh Emanuel Navarrete, Jeo Santisima - LIVE BoxingScene Scorecard
Latest Forum Threads