Buster Brown, Baltimore fighter, dies Top contender boxed in '20s, '30s

December 18, 1991|By Kent Baker

He fought for two world championships and was "a fighter who gave you a run for your money," according to Heine Blaustein, longtime local trainer.

So, Baltimore-area boxing suffered a great loss last weekend when Sebastian Catanzaro died.

Known in the ring as Buster Brown, Catanzaro was inducted into the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame 18 years ago after a 108-bout career that peaked in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

He fought the top contenders while competing in three divisions -- bantamweight, featherweight and lightweight -- but never made it to the top.

On May 27, 1929, he was knocked out in the third round by world featherweight champion Andre Routis, and nearly three years later, March 21, 1932, Catanzaro dropped a 10-round decision to Jackie "Kid" Berg in a world lightweight title contest.

Catanzaro twice fought Benny Leonard, who had retired undefeated six years earlier, in the early '30s when Leonard was attempting a comeback as a welterweight at age 35.

"When the fight was over, Buster was usually there on his feet," said Blaustein. "He couldn't box much, but he was a good body puncher. He'd weave and bob and wear you down to the body. Basically, he was a club fighter with heart."

Blaustein said Catanzaro had no amateur fights and jumped into the pro ranks at an early age. Catanzaro also fought as Buster Dundee for a time.

"He fought an awful lot locally," said Mary Palermo, his sister. "I know his manager once turned down an offer to go to London to fight for a title. I have a lot of his clips. They like to say he would always draw a crowd."

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