Ralph Dupas emerged from humble beginnings in New Orleans to become a world champion boxer
Ralph Dupas emerged from humble beginnings in New Orleans to become a world champion boxer. Under the tutelage of trainer Angelo Dundee, Dupas won the world junior middleweight championship in 1963.
Born on October 14, 1935, Dupas was the second of eleven children of a New Orleans fisherman. He turned to boxing at an early age to escape poverty, falsifying his age in order to get his boxing license. By the time he was sixteen, Dupas was fighting ten-round main events across New Orleans, sometimes three times a month. In 1951 and 1952 Dupas fought fifteen times each year, losing just twice while scoring two draws.
Legendary trainer Angelo Dundee saw Dupas fight and convinced him to relocate to Miami, Florida, to train. Within two years Dupas had become a ranked contender in the lightweight division (130 to 135 pounds). Victories against Armand Savoi, Paddy DeMarco, and Kenny Lane vaulted Dupas into the top ranks of lightweights in the world.
On May 7, 1958, Dupas went toe-to-toe against Joe “Old Bones” Brown for the lightweight title, losing by an eighth-round knockout. He then moved up to the welterweight division (140 to 147 pounds) and positioned himself for another title shot. He got that shot on July 13, 1962, against Emile Griffith, who four months earlier had beaten Benny Paret so badly that Paret later died of his injuries. A capacity crowd at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Nevada witnessed Griffith out-point Dupas, winning by a unanimous fifteen-round decision.
The now twenty-seven-year-old Dupas moved up to the junior middleweight division (147 to 154 pounds) to face titleholder Denny Moyer on April 29, 1963, at the Municipal Auditorium in New Orleans. More than five thousand fans saw Dupas pound the title out of Moyer to win the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council junior middleweight title. He successfully defended his title in a rematch with Moyer on June 17, 1963, in Baltimore, Maryland, winning another fifteen-round unanimous decision.
At this point in his career, Dupas was a grizzled veteran of more than 120 professional prizefights and was clearly in the late stages of his career. He lost his title to Sandro Mazzinghi three months later in Milan through a technical knockout (TKO) in the ninth round; he also lost the December rematch with Mazzinghi three months later in Sydney, Australia. Dupas lost his final fight on September 8, 1966, against Joe Clark in Las Vegas in an eighth-round TKO.
After his retirement, Dupas worked in various jobs at a number of Las Vegas casinos until he began to exhibit serious signs of dementia pugilistica. His family relocated him to a nursing home in the New Orleans area. One of the last prizefighters from New Orleans to hold a world title died on January 25, 2008, at the age of seventy-two.