Born in Italy in 1922, Vito Tallarita moved to Enfield when he was seven. He quickly took a shine to boxing and was an amateur flyweight in the 1940s who twice had bouts against legendary featherweight world champion Willie Pep.
Realizing his limitations as a fighter, Tallarita delved into the promotional and matchmaking elements of the sport and quickly earned a reputation as one of the best in the business.
Tallarita was the matchmaker for Marlon Starling’s first 20 pro bouts. Starling and Pep were in the CBHOF’s first induction class in 2005.
Tallarita was the matchmaker for all five of Leonard’s bouts in New England before he became a world champion. Three of those bouts were in Hartford, New Haven and Springfield respectively and all were nationally televised.
Tallarita, who was inducted into the Enfield Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996, also did the wildly successful closed-circuit promotions of the first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier bout and the Ali-George Foreman fight.
Tallarita had a relationship with several wellknown figures in boxing, including Frazier, 1972 Olympic gold medalist Duane Bobick, and Ali’s trainer, Angelo Dundee, who also trained Leonard.
Tallarita passed away in 1984.