Ex-boxing great's nephew offers reward for missing championship belts

Tue Nov 10, 2015 5:56pm EST
 
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By Matthew Liptak

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (Reuters) - The nephew of a world champion boxer and a New York State radio station on Tuesday offered a $7,500 reward for the return of six world champion belts believed stolen last week from the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Four belts were won by the late boxer Carmen Basilio and two by Tony Zale. They had been displayed in the museum, located in Canastota in northern New York State.

"We want these belts back and we will do virtually anything to get them back," said Zale's 67-year-old nephew Thad Zale. "This is our family heirloom. Our uncle was our hero. We will stay on this as long as it takes. People come from all over the world to see those belts."

Thad Zale said he is contributing $2,500 to the reward. Another $5,000 is being put up by the Syracuse radio station TK99, which made its offer on air Tuesday.

Tony Zale won the National Boxing Association's World Middleweight Title for the first time in 1940. He won that distinction four more times including knocking out Rocky Graziano once in 1947 for the title.

Basilio successfully fought for and won a combined five middleweight and welterweight championships between 1955 and 1957 which included a victory over Sugar Ray Robinson.

Canastota Police Chief James Zophy said Tuesday his department was getting help in investigating the missing belts from the FBI.

"This community is part of the hall of fame as much as the hall of fame is part of the community," he said.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Andrew Hay)