Name: Dom Volante
Alias: Don Volante
Hometown: Liverpool, England
The majority of this record was compiled by boxing historian and author Gilbert Odd.
Without doubt one of Merseysides best remembered former boxers Dom Volante could be guarantered to fill any venue he was appearing at during the 1920's and 30's. The son of Italian parents who met and married in England, Don grew up in Gerrard Street, of Scotland road, Liverpool and was one of 14 children. Due to his all action style he was known as the "Liverpool Fighting Machine" and in a 14 year professional career scored wins over names as Nel Tarleton, Johnny Cuthbert and Seaman Tommy Watson. He had around 140 contests and is fondly remembered for his skills with the harmonica after fights as he was for his skills in the ring.
Together with his brother Vincent, himself a former Catholic Schoolboy Champion, Dom was a founder member of the Merseyside Former Boxers association and both remained so until their deaths. Dom passed away in 1982 aged 77 whilst Vincent died in 1996.
In 1936 one of Liverpool’s finest boxers, and undoubtedly the best who ever won a title finally hung up his gloves. Dom Volante grew up in the gas light era, a time of Hansom cabs, cobblestones and grinding poverty. He was one of 14 children born to Italian immigrant parents in Gerrard Street near Scotland Road – Liverpool. This area was Liverpool’s “Little Italy”. Dom’s father made a living by playing the street organ. After one amateur fight in 1922 Dom turned professional as a featherweight.
He was unfortunate in some ways to be a contemporary of the great Nel Tarleton, they clashed four times in thering with Dom only winning their first meeting and losing the others. At one of their fights, an open air show at Breck Park – Liverpool – in 1928 the crowd of 13,000 disagreed so violently with the decision of referee “Bombardier” Wells in awarding the bout and the Northern Area Title, to Tarleton, that more than the usual verbal abuse was hurled, and the “Bombardier” Billy Wells in awarding the bout and the Northern Area Title , to Tarleton, that more than the usual verbal abuse was hurled, and then the “Bombardier” received a severe cut on the head when he was hit a bit slow slow ducking out of the way of a low flying chair.
Tarleton and Volante were friends away from the ring and their double act with Dom on the mouth organ and Nel tap dancing was legendary. One of their most famous performances was at the opening of the Paramount Cinema which was built on the site of the old Pudsey Street Stadium .
Dom had been on the “Bill” on the last night at Pudsey Street when he had stopped Teddy Brown of Newcastle. On one occasion his skill with the mouth organ came to his rescue when in a bout with Nipper Cooper In 62 seconds and the crowd, mostly miners, threatened to riot. Dom produced his mouth organ and defused the situation. In fact his mouth organ displays became a feature of his life of his life and helped him raise thousands of pounds for charity.
During his 14 year career he packed in around 140 contests with only a hand full of defeats. In his early days he sometimes fought twice a night to help bring the money in, only the alternative to doubling up was to sell chocolates at ringside in between bouts. Dom was the scourge of continental boxers and the despair of top agent Nick Cavelli who brought 32 of them over to beat the “Liverpool Wop”, he defeated 31 of them and drew the remaining contest. In 1930 he toured America with Tarleton and his fight with Harry Carlton in front of 18,000 fans at Madison Square Gardens was voted by the U.S. press as the greatest fighter ever seen in that famous arena.
He quit the ring in 1933 with eye trouble , but only after 18 months he was back again for a six undefeated comeback. After a short spell as a manager he went to sea, first as a steward and later as a gym instructor on the Britianic,Mauretania and the Queen Mary. Ashore he worked as a security guard at Jacobs for a while until his retirement.
His death , in 1972, at the age of 77 brought down the curtain on the life of a truly remarkable fighter who made thousands of friends both inside and outside of boxing.. in his time he was one of Liverpool’s best loved personalities, he, like Dean and Tarleton in the inter war years truly became a legend in his own lifetime.
February 8 , 1933
Volante “Hangs” Up The Gloves
By THE PILOT
Dom Volante, the Liverpool lightweight, has “hung up the gloves” in boxing parlance, that means definitely he has retired from the ring.
I am able to make this announcement following the visit of the Liverpool Italian to an eye specialist. The specialist’s verdict is that Dom must give up boxing immediately or run the risk of losing his sight. Reluctantly Volante has had to consent and has intimated his retirement to his manager, Mr Ted Broadrib.
Volante was the gamest fighter Liverpool ever produced. He was known as the “Liverpool Fighting Machine” an no description fitted him better. He went into the ring to fight and no one who met him ever expected anything but a fight.
Boxing loses a brilliant little battler, perhaps, the most popular boxer seen for many years. He was a great favourite not only in Liverpool, but in Manchester, London and in America, where he toured with his pal, Nel Tarleton.
Volante never gained a championship, but he defeated, during his brilliant career, no fewer than six men who were champions – or later won Lonsdale belts.
They were Harry Corbett, Young Johnny Brown, Nel Tarleton, Johnny Curley, Johnny Cuthbert and ex Seaman Tommy Watson.
Cuthbert won on each occasion, but Volante found honour in defeat.
“I’ll be there”
A favourite expression of Dom’s was “I’ll be there at the finish”, and invariably he was.
February 27th 1928 Versus Paddy Jones at the NSC Covent Gardens.
“Boxing at the N.S.C. Two Perfectly Matched Feather-Weights”
“It would be hard to imagine two better matched boxers – over 15 rounds, at any rate – than Paddy Jones the North Wales Boxer, and Dom Volante from Liverpool, who met in a contest at the Feather-weight at the National Sporting Club last night.
In physique, fitness, all-round skill, punch, and fighting spirit, there was so little to choose between the two men that, although each had his good and his bad moments it was hardly surprising that the referee decided, like every-one else, that it was impossible either Jones or Volante to be a beaten man, even on points.
It would indeed have required a sensitive seismograph rather than a judge’s pencil; to have recorded without fail every shock inflicted on head and body by two such rapidly moving, tireless combatants. Even the apparent differences in style and method would have proved a snare and delusion.
If Volante went after his man relentlessly from start to finish, Jones’ footwork and punches beat him back. Perhaps it was Jones’ sheer steadiness that counterbalanced the amazing way in which Volante kept up his offensive in the face of counter blows that would have knocked out of stride 99 boxers out of 100.
For the first six rounds, Volante’s aggression and speed probably gave him the advantage. He was able to keep springing in with lefts and following rights, and at infighting he tested Jones’s defence equally severely.
Really it wasn’t until the ninth round when Jones’s left stops to Volante’s face began to be the blow that mattered, although Volante was well able to take the punishment. In the tenth there was a sort of lull in the intensity of the fight, but the fight broke out again as fast and furious as ever. Both men contacted punches from every angle ad caused an impossible task to count the clean hits.
The remaining rounds were all boxing and totally entertaining with Volante’s following rights to the head and body and Jones’s rights; with one which came in the 14th that almost had Volante stopped dead in tracks. But a possible chance of winning decisively vanished when in the 15th round, Volante was hard at it again and it was only Jones’s counterpunching defence that saved him.
Altogether, it was a magnificent display of keen and clean two-handed, wholehearted boxing, and quite a relief from the sporting point of view, to hear that the decision was a draw.
~ ~ ~
March 26th 1929 Versus Vincent Cerdan of Marseilles at the NSC Covent Gardens.
“Liverpool versus Marseilles.”
Dom Volante of Liverpool met Vincent Cerdan of Marseilles in a 15 round featherweight contest, providing the chief contest, and most importantly, the best entertainment at the NSC last night.
Cerdan had given Johnny Cuthbert a fairly good fight recently and Volante, a touted contender for the British title, looked upon the fight as a line to championship form. Certainly, as Volante forced his man to retire in the 7th round, the form looked good for the winner.
During the first two rounds, Volante had anything but an easy time of it, for Cerdan more than made up for his short reach by his activity and speed with the use of his left hook. Volante was dropped in the first half minute and eventually took advantage of Cerdan’s failure to follow up.
Cerdan was all at sea as soon as Volante steadied himself; Cerdan tried hard to land more of his left hooks but to no avail as Volante was able to control his opponent physically with careful use of his straight left. When the outdistanced Cerdan did land it was only on Volante’s elbows, which were used very skilfully as a guard to the body.
It was quite likely that through blows to Volante’s elbow, Cerdan injured his hand; eventually, too, Volante began to press and punish his man heavily, bringing about a decision by the opposing corner to end the match.