EARL "LALU" SABOTIN Skinny kid grew into solid boxing career
Warren resident went on to become firefighter and standout amateur golfer.
WARREN -- An obituary earlier this week told the death of 75-year-old Auriel Jibotian. For fight fans of the post-World War II era, memories were there for a standout boxer who could hold his own as a puncher, by the name of Earl "Lalu" Sabotin.
Canfield resident and longtime trainer John Hobart knew Sabotin well.
"I remember when he was just a skinny 13-year-old kid, fighting at 118 pounds for Jack Thompson in Warren," said Hobart.
Sabotin had gone to Thompson's gym when he was 12-years-old and around 100 pounds, recalled Hobart.
"Jack just brought him along at a very comfortable pace."
Golden Gloves debut
In 1946, at age 16, Sabotin made his debut in the Golden Gloves at Rayenwood Auditorium.
He won 147-pound championships in Youngstown and Cleveland and went to the Tournament of Champion finals in Chicago before losing a close decision. Then he went to the AAU finals in Boston, losing a split decision.
"Lalu was growing so fast that Jack Thompson kept him out of the 1947 Golden Gloves, putting him in a series of club fights and smokers," said Hobart.
Those bouts were as far away as Rochester, N.Y.
Sabotin went from just more than 150 pounds to 168 and up. In 1948 at 6-foot-2, Sabotin was a full-fledged lightheavyweight, winning the Youngstown Golden Gloves in a sweep. He did the same thing in the Cleveland Arena, where he was named the Golden Gloves outstanding fighter. During this streak he won 28 consecutive fights, which ended in Chicago at the Tournament of Champions with a controversial split decision in the finals.
He joined the Army following an amateur career that saw him complete a 117-12 record. Turning pro as a natural lightheavyweight, Sabotin made his debut Nov. 16, 1949 in Akron, knocking out Mike Lyden in the second round. Sabotin won 15 consecutive pro bouts, including nine by knockout, before losing a 10-round split decision in the Akron Armory to top-ranked Dan Bucceroni from Philadelphia.
Sabotin finished his pro career with a 21-11 record, including 10 KOs, and there were battles with top-ranked fighters of the day such as Chuck Speiser, Dick Wagner and Danny Nardico.
On Dec. 29, 1952, in Brooklyn's Eastern Parkway Arena, Sabotin faced a young Floyd Patterson, fresh off an Olympic crown. It was Patterson's third pro fight and he won by TKO in the fifth round.
"Lalu took that fight with Patterson on very short notice because Thompson had made a commitment to the promoters," recalled Hobart.
There were four fights, all tough losses, with Danny Nardico, a ranked lightheavyweight from Tampa, including Sabotin's last pro fight.
Sabotin was a longtime fireman in Warren and became a standout amateur golfer, winning five Ohio Public Links Championships.
Sabotin, whose death was caused by a stroke, leaves his wife Norma, daughter Lynda, brothers John and Nick, a sister, Pearl, and his mother, also Pearl.
Services were Thursday at Oakwood Cemetery in Warren.