Pat Valentino, former heavyweight contender of the 1940s, was famous both for his savagery in the ring and, almost incongruously, for his chic hairstyle, which he often jokingly compared to that of Samson. He won the California State Heavyweight title in 1948, and, along with Fred Apostoli, was the most popular attraction in the Bay Area for nearly a decade. He died of pneumonia on July 25th, 2008, in Las Vegas.
Valentino, whose real name was Pasquale Guglielmi, was born on January 25, 1920, in the Excelsior District of San Francisco. One of eight children, Valentino was raised dirt poor during the Depression by an abusive father who once made this bleak, near-Dickensian proposal to his son: “You work, I feed you.” Gaetano Guglielmi was so miserly that Valentino was often forced to walk barefoot to school without a bagged lunch or a pencil. “I was the fifth oldest,” Valentino said about his father, “and he just hated me.”