A BONAFIDE hero to the admiring Italian public, Giovanni Benvenuti had it all. With film star good looks and an all-round athleticism, the Trieste man rose to prominence at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, where he picked up a gold medal in the welterweight tournament. Before shooting to fame at the Games, Benvenuti had already secured multiple national amateur titles, as well as two European amateur crowns at light-middleweight. Prior to turning professional, he reportedly compiled a record of 120-0.
After storming to 29 wins in as many fights as a pro (including a points victory over travelling Cuban Isaac Logart), Nino earned a crack at the vacant Italian middleweight belt. He duly knocked out Tommaso Truppi in the 11th round.
A further 26 successes followed for Benvenuti. He made three national title defences in that period, as well as claiming the scalps of top opponents such as Gaspar Ortega, Teddy Wright and Denny Moyer (all w pts 10). A combined record of 56-0 put him in line to challenge Italian compatriot Sandro Mazzinghi for the world light-middleweight strap. In front of a passionate crowd, Nino finished his fellow countryman off in six rounds.