As a young teenager, Frankie Battaglia was attracted to boxing following a chance meeting with then World Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey at the Fort Garry Hotel. Battaglia’s amateur career began in 1926, when he was selected to represent Manitoba at the Dominion Championship competition. Two years later, he earned a berth on the Canadian boxing team for the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Battaglia turned professional in 1930 following his last amateur bout, a victory over the highly acclaimed Myles Sullivan. Battaglia moved to the United States to increase his training and quickly advanced to become a top contender for the middleweight championship of the world. Chicago Stadium was the site of the 1932 fight that threw Battaglia’s name into the forefront of the boxing world when he knocked out the number one contender Ben Jeby in the first round. Battaglia’s quick reflexes and ability to take a punch kept him highly ranked among middleweights during the 1930s.
Jeby rebounded from his loss to gain the world title and this set the stage for a rematch with Battaglia at historic Madison Square Garden in New York. This time, the Winnipeg fighter fell short of victory as the fight was stopped in the thirteenth round due to a cut over his right eye that impaired his vision. Jeby gained the win by a technical knockout. However, Battaglia worked hard to regain his status as number one contender and in 1936 in Chicago, he earned a second chance at the middleweight crown. Freddy Steel, who defeated Jeby for the title, prevailed over the determined Battaglia after a close and hard fought bout. It was Battaglia’s last chance to win the coveted title. Battaglia ended his career in 1938 after 100 amateur and professional contests.