Legendary Boxer, Willie Pep Mural by Corey Pane

Join RiseUP for Arts, COBA (Charter Oak Boxing Academy), and artist Corey Pane in helping to make a mural of legendary Hartford boxer, Willie Pep at the COBA Boxing Center at 81 Pope Park Highway in Hartford, CT.
The mural will be approximately 10 ft tall by 20 ft wide.
This mural will continue the efforts to not only beautify Hartford but also continue to honor those that have made a big impact on the community.
We will be clearing the brush and constructing a new wall to the left of the building that will serve as the home to this monumental mural.

The mural will cost approximately $10,000 to complete including the price to construct the mural wall.  The city of Hartford has committed $7,000 to the project and we are looking to fundraise the remaining $3,000 to build the mural wall. 
About Willie Pep:
Pep was born William Guiglermo Papaleo on September 9, 1922, in Middletown, Connecticut, near the city of Hartford. He was the son of Sicilian immigrants, Salvatore and Mary (nee Marchese) Papaleo. Pep grew up in a tough neighborhood. He took up boxing, in part, because he was tired of getting beat up by older kids and wanted to defend himself. After dropping out of Hartford High School at the age of 16, Pep made money by selling newspapers and shining shoes.
Pep spent much of his time boxing as an amateur based at the Du-Well Athletic Club in Norwich, Connecticut. He boxed in 65 amateur bouts over a two-and-a-half year period, posting a record of 59 wins and three loses. In 1938, he won the Connecticut amateur flyweight championship. The following year, he won the Connecticut amateur bantamweight championship. Pep told Jim Shea of Sports Illustrated that "The best advice I ever got was from a kid in the gym who told me, 'When you're in the ring, make believe a cop is chasing you; don't let him catch you."'
When Pep was only 19 years old, he turned professional. He won his first bout on July 3, 1940, fighting Jim McGovern in Hartford, Connecticut. Pep went on to go undefeated in his first three years as a professional boxer. Pep became the youngest boxer in 40 years to win a world title. He won his first world title as a featherweight when he defeated Albert "Chalky" Wright in a 15-round bout in New York City on November 20, 1942.
Because this world title was awarded by the New York State Athletic Commission, the National Boxing Association would not recognize Pep as featherweight champion until he defeated their reigning champ, Sal Bartolo. Pep became the consolidated world featherweight champion when he defeated Bartolo by decision in a ten-round bout in Boston, on April 9, 1943. Pep would retain his world champion crown until 1948.
Of his early success, Pep told Peter Heller in In This Corner, "I was twenty years old. It was a very big thing for me to win the championship of the world. I didn't realize the strength of it. I didn't know what it was all about. I wasn't mature enough to sense what I had really won until 1948 when Saddler licked me, then when I won it back, I realized the strength and I realized it was a great thing to be a champion of the world."
There were several reasons why the featherweight Pep, who stood 5′5 1/2″ and weighing about 125 lbs., was such a dominant fighter in his time. He was a fast, speedy boxer, with dominating footwork and solid boxing skills. He used the whole ring to his advantage. Instead of eluding his opponents, Pep could knock them out after frustrating them. He had a great trainer in Bill Gore who helped Pep use his assets to the best of his ability. James B. Roberts and Alexander G. Skutt wrote in The Boxing Register that "Pep developed a ring artistry that veteran boxing observers still admire. His style of boxing has been likened to tap dancing with gloves on. He once even won a round without even throwing a punch because his tactical movements kept his opponent completely off-balance." The fight Roberts and Skutt refer to took place in 1946 against Jackie Graves in Minneapolis. Pep went on to win the bout by TKO (technical knock out) in the eighth round.
Though Pep won 11 of his first 12 fights in 1958, he lost his final chance at a world title on September 20, 1958. Fighting Nigerian boxer Hogan "The Kid" Bassey in Boston, Pep lost by TKO in the ninth round, though he had been leading on the judges' scorecards. Pep formally retired the day after losing to Sonny Leon by decision in ten rounds on January 26, 1959, in Caracas, Venezuela. He was elected to The Ring 's Boxing Hall of Fame four years later.
Pep staged a comeback in 1965, winning nine fights that year. The last four were by TKO or KO. Pep's final professional fight came on March 16, 1966, against Calvin Woodward in Richmond, Virginia. Pep lost in six rounds, and admitted that he did not feel he was in shape enough to fight. Over the course of Pep's professional boxing career, he had fought in 241 bouts, winning 164 by decision and 65 by knockout; losing 11, five by decision and six by knockout; and one draw.
One reason Pep had staged his short-lived comeback was his need for money. Though he had made a lot over his career, he spent it wildly, losing much by gambling, and investing poorly. But he also still loved the sport. After his fighting days ended, Pep worked as a second with boxers, boxing inspectors, and a boxing referee. Among his matches as referee was the featherweight championship match between Harada and Famechon. Pep's other sports-related occupations included wrestling inspector and sports columnist. He also managed a nightclub, worked as a brewery customer service representative, restaurant greeter, and a deputy sheriff in criminal court in Hartford, Connecticut. In the 1970s, Pep was employed in Connecticut's Athletic Division in the boxing office, a position he held until the late 1980s. Pep was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
About RiseUP:
RiseUP for Arts supports artists, cities, other nonprofits, companies, and local community members in making their mural projects come to life. We help create the vision and manage the entire process to beautify communities through public art. RiseUP is Connecticut’s source for public art and mural, having completed over 75 mural and placemaking projects throughout CT. More info at www.theriseupgroup.org
About COBA
The Charter Oak Amateur Boxing Academy and Youth Development Program Inc., aka COBA Is dedicated to creating champions in the ring, but first and foremost, “Champions of Life!” COBA is a comprehensive youth development program, that Ring Magazine, "The Bible of Boxing" called "A Boxing Club where Life is the Main Event" and is committed to working with males and females ages 8-18, Monday – Friday, 4-8 p.m. Competitions, travel and sparring are year round and many times on weekends, however not a mandate to be a valued member of the program and no experience is necessary to join. The Charter Oak Boxing Academy through it's "Champion’s of Life Boxing” curriculum implemented by it's, "USA Boxing" certified coaching staff and social work partners will strive to impart in its members:
Holistic Personal Development: humility, positive self-esteem, strong character, work ethic, discipline, sacrifice and citizenship
Life Skills Education: in drug, alcohol & gang prevention, healthy decision making, financial management, organizational & study skills, leadership, being goal orientated, educationally, motivated and community minded.
State of the Art Foundation: in physical fitness, nutrition, Olympic boxing skills, mind, body & soul wellness and intrinsic success vs self-gratification


RiseUP For Arts
Hartford, CT
The RiseUP Group, Inc
Registered nonprofit
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