Carl Vinciquerra was one of Omaha’s favorite sons during one of boxing’s most legendary eras.
“It was a very exciting time,” said Vinciquerra’s daughter, Mary Post. “When you see the movie “Cinderella Man,” you realize he fought at the same time (as Jim Braddock) during the Depression. That was really something.”
Vinciquerra played football at Tech High and Creighton University, but is better remembered for making the 1936 U.S. Olympic boxing team.
A natural heavyweight, he won a national Golden Gloves championship that year as a 175-pounder. He and heavyweight Paul Hartnek flipped a coin before the tournament, one of the qualifying steps for the Olympics. Vinciquerra lost and had to cut about 15 pounds to get down to 175 — the light heavyweight limit.
He got through the event, as well as 14 matches after that against regional and service academy champions, to make it to Berlin. He lost a decision in his first-round match.
“If it wasn’t for (having to lose) the weight, he would have had a good chance,” Post said.
As a pro in 1939, Vinciquerra was a win away from a shot at Joe Louis, Braddock’s successor as heavyweight champ. But a bad thumb was costly in a loss to Johnny Paycheck.
He had a pro record of 42 wins (26 by knockout), four losses and five draws from 1937 through 1941, fighting over 20 times in 1937.
Vinciquerra was elected into the Midwest Boxing Hall of Fame in February of 1976 and died in 1997.
Related: Vinciquerra was the K.O. king
Played for: Omaha Tech High, Creighton Bluejays and U.S. Olympic team
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Omahan Paul Hartnek was a Creighton football teammate and a rival in both amateur and professional boxing.
Best moment as an athlete: Making the U.S. Olympic boxing team in 1936
Vinciquerra was No. 57 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »