A report circulated Tuesday that Tony DeMarco, a prominent boxer in the 1950s, was lying in a county morgue, his body unclaimed.
A call went out to another prominent boxer of the period, Art Aragon.
"Impossible," Aragon said. "I just saw Tony two weeks ago and he was fine. But let me call him to check and I'll call you right back."
According to Aragon, the following conversation took place with DeMarco, who lives in Boston:
DeMarco: "Tony DeMarco speaking."
Aragon: "Tony, this is Art Aragon. The L.A. Times says you're dead--are you?"
DeMarco: "Geez, I don't know . . . let me go look in the mirror. (Pause.) No, I'm still here, Art."
Turns out the deceased, Alphonsus D'Amico, had passed himself off as Tony DeMarco for two years at a downtown bar, where he was a frequent patron. When he failed to appear at the bar for several days, the bartender reported Tony DeMarco missing to police, who found D'Amico dead of natural causes in his downtown hotel room.
DeMarco, 58, world welterweight champion in 1955, was amused by the mistaken identity case when contacted Tuesday.
"My health couldn't be better . . . but I told Aragon I'd check the obituaries in the paper tomorrow, just to make sure."