Sportalks

Chuck Benedict

Glendale never has been a site for professional boxing matches, but it

has been a residential draw for world champions Jimmy McLarnin, Jess

Willard and Primo Carnera.

Jim Jeffries was a boxing impresario in Burbank and Jack Dempsey lived

in the Los Feliz area. Another Glendale resident was Fidel La Barba, who

defeated three featherweight champions in non-title bouts, but lost a

15-rounder for the title.

Then there were the Dundee brothers, the first siblings to hold world

titles. Joe won the welterweight championship in 1927 and Vince held the

middleweight title in 1933 and 1934.

By coincidence, Vince was champ at the time that Carnera wore the

heavyweight crown.

A lengthy conversation with La Canada Flintridge's Vince Dundee, Jr.

included these observations:

Chuck Benedict: Both your Dad and Joe were born in Italy. When and

where were you born?

Vince Dundee: In 1931 in Baltimore. My dad posthumously was enshrined

in the University of Maryland Hall of Fame in the same ceremony as Dr.

Jonas Salk and baseball's Lefty Grove, in 1956. Dad and Joe are in many

Halls of Fame.

CB: What brought you to Glendale?

VD: I had an uncle in the movie business and my mother visited him.

She wanted to stay, so we moved here in 1940. Dad opened up the original

Vince Dundee Cafe on West Colorado.

CB: Wasn't it a hangout for celebrities?

VD: Immediately. Later, I had an annual boxers day and many current

and former champs came, including Jess Willard, excepting when Dempsey

was there. They had a feud after Jack took the heavyweight title from

Jess.

CB: Were there many feuds?

VD: In those days, boxing animosity was rare, and was quietly

personal. Today, boxers often show phony hatred for each other. It's

mostly for hype.

CB: Wasn't your dad very popular? Did he need fake hypes?

VD: No. I have scrapbooks that tell how much everyone loved him.

CB: What about the cafe?

VD: It was the first of many restaurants that the family and I have

owned, including the Kona Kai Inn, Christopher's, some in the desert and

in Glendale. I sold or dismantled them all, in many cases keeping the

property.

CB: Did you get into boxing?

VD: Only as a great fan. I liked writing, and got my degree in

journalism at USC. I have had many articles published.

CB: Is yours a career family?

VD: I met Rita when she was reigning orchid princess of the nation. We

both graduated from USC and were married in La Canada in 1953. Our sons,

Vince III and Scott, own VER, a very large Glendale company with

operating locations in seven other distant sites. VER rents anything and

everything needed in equipment for shooting movies, commercials, TV shows

and documentaries, and that's only part of its scope.

Another son is Dr. Mark Wayne Dundee, who holds nine degrees from

nationally recognized universities. He is a high-level attorney, and this

year he was named by Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill as West Coast

Chairman of the U.S. Savings Bond Committee. My daughter, Erin, is VER's

national marketing director.

CB: VER is a huge outfit. Do you have part of the action?

VD: Not by investment, but the boys made me a consultant with a big

office. However, as each new expansion comes along at the executive

level, I have given up my space to make room. But I have a nice, handy

office at home. I still have a great association with Vince and Scott.

CB: You seem to be vitally active in Glendale's city and charitable

activities.

VD: Many of them. I love people, being associated with them and

helping them where that is needed. I also still write occasionally. Love

that, too.

CB: Were you ever associated with the News-Press?

VD: Yes. I was a stringer when Charlie Park was sports editor. I was

sports editor of the Hoover High School paper and I played basketball

there. My four kids, by the way, all went to high school in La Canada,

where all of them still live, near us.

CB: They certainly have done well. Were they good kids?

VD: I worked them so hard in restaurants they never wanted to work in

one again. But Rita and I loved them and they knew it.

CB: Tough love can pay off.

VD: (smiling) Apparently.

*

CHUCK BENEDICT can be reached at 637-3200 (voice mail 974), by fax at

549-9191 or by E-mail at BChuckbenedict@aol.com.

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