Friday night fights to honor Tony “Bazooka” De Luca plus new Hall of Fame Inductees

NABF Flyweight Champ Tony “Bazooka” De Luca of San Diego by way of Greenland, New Hampshire, has his arm raised by future Hall of Fame ref Pat Russell. To DeLuca’s right is trainer Juan Bustamante. Photo courtesy of Juan Bustamante.

Tony “Bazooka” DeLuca (7-08-62 to 10-20-12)

Anybody can write about the fun stuff, the congratulatory mention of a victory, or the blow by blow break down of a fight. It’s the painful recounting of a lost friend that’s the most difficult to do and Tony De Luca was everybody’s friend.


He was one of the most upbeat, positive individuals you’ll ever meet. When talking about his recent passing, everyone mentions the same thing, “He was a genuine, nice guy.” The majority of people didn’t want to elaborate because they knew their eyes would soon be welling up with tears.

In his nine year career, Tony “Bazooka” DeLuca got to see many different parts of the     world. Photos courtesy of Juan Bustamante

In the above panel we see Portsmouth High School, the school young Adam J. Marchulaitis attended from 1976 to the year he graduated 1980. In the below panels we see more proof that Mr. De Luca got to travel the world, as in London and parts of Mexico.

In the category of “It’s a small world”, Tony’s dear friend, Benny Ricardo (bottom panel, right), later ended up working with Duke McKenzie on March 8, 1989. In the panel on the left we see the younger version posing with his Championship belts. Photos Courtesy of: Juan Bustamante and Benny Ricardo.

Ring announcer, sports commentator, standup comic, ex-NFL football jock Benny Ricardo was the first of many to recount his memories of Tony at the recent California Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony, on October 20, the day of Tony’s passing.

“The guy just thrilled you in the ring,” said Ricardo. “Especially when he took Michael Carbajal 12 rounds in the championship fight. Carbajal, 22, had won all 11 of his pro fights, seven by knockout. Several of his bouts had been seen on ESPN. While Tony, at 27, didn’t even get started in boxing until he was 18. Carbajal began boxing at 14. He was a TV star of sorts even before he turned professional and then all of his 1988 Olympic fights were seen on NBC.

Bobby (De Philippis) and I were sitting at ringside at the El Cortez Hotel, when he fought Willy Salazar. In that one, he had to get up off the mat. You know the eyes don’t lie. I swear to you, he had this seemingly out of body experience. After going down, his eyes virtually rolled to the back of his head. At the count of six, he starts getting back to his feet. At the count of eight, he asks Pat (Hall of Fame Referee Pat Russell), ‘Could you step aside, I have some unfinished business to take care of.’

“Who has the presence of mind to do that? That’s the kind of man he was, a John Wayne type showing his true grit. Staggered in the fifth round, knocked down in the eighth, then back he comes to win the last four rounds and take the split decision to win the NABF light flyweight title.

“And to think he had everyone believing he was Italian when his real name was Adam J. Marchulaitis, a Greek from Boston, Mass.”

(Actually, Tony, a 1980 graduate of Portsmouth High School lived in nearby Greenland, New Hampshire which is 51 miles from Beantown. His high school, current enrollment 1,100, serves students from Portsmouth, Greenland, Rye, New Castle and Newington, New Hamshire. And like they say in most small towns, ‘Ain’t much in Greenland, it’s a thruway for people trying to get heya from thaya’.)

Back to Ricardo’s thoughts: “What an innovator too! Throwing the bazooka bubble gum to his fans. You know that signal the youngsters now give after a fight, the bow with the foot stomp. He was the first to do it. The guy had an unbelievable following.

“I’m like most stand-up comedians, I like it when people laugh at my corny jokes. Tony didn’t just laugh, he’d roll on the floor.”

Top photo (l to r) Bobby DePhilippis, Benny Ricardo and boxing official Fritz Werner. Bottom: Jim Lampley (l) and then Norman “Bumpy” Parra (r) is in a photo with fellow boxer Bobby Chacon. As of October 20, 2012, five of the six gentlemen are now in the California Boxing Hall of Fame, Ricardo is still too young for consideration.

Another gentleman who couldn’t stop praising Tony DeLuca was Bobby DePhilippis, who helped promote his career. “Tony was one hell of a fighter,” said DePhilippis. “His only problem was he cut easily. After a career that lasted nine years, he got involved in training up and comers. The problem with that arrangement, Tony wasn’t very good at asking people to pay him. When he wasn’t making enough as a coach, he started working as a consultant at Home Depot. That alone should tell you something about his character. At Home Depot he was right back to helping people in need … “the people who work with their hands, craftsman, plumbers and builders,” said Tony, “are a special breed.”

Tony’s wife, Teresa, is planning a “Celebration of Life” in his memory and on Friday night at our show, we’ll be honoring this great individual and displaying his Championship Belts.”

Alongside fellow pugilists, the often lighthearted Tony “Bazooka” DeLuca gives the cameraman a rather humorous look. It seems Tony was always trying to make you laugh.

Manager/coach Lou Messina: “Tony was a gentle, caring person. When someone was just starting out, their first time sparring can be traumatic. If they get in there with a nutcase, their first time could be their last time. Gym owners and parents would always come to Tony and ask him to help make that transition. Tony would take it easy on you, show patience – even if it took several weeks.”

On October 19, 2012, Tony DeLuca was upset his illness would prevent him from attending this year’s California Boxing Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies, especially since his dear friends Bobby De Philippis, Fritz Werner, Bumpy Parra and James Kinchen (top panel with family), were to be inducted. Each year he enjoyed going to this event. In the bottom left panel we see Tony (l) with Hall of Famer Carlos Palomino at the 2010 event. In the bottom right panel, Bumpy Parra is seen with his lovely wife and daughter.

Juan Bustamante was Tony’s longtime coach. When I went to see him, he was devastated, heart broken over the news. Still, he wanted me to come over and see the photos he had of Tony and make certain his life would be remembered.

“Tony was special, adored by all,” said Bustamante. “My fondest memories are of NBC’s Sportsworld with Marv Albert and Ferdie Pacheco at the microphone doing one of his fights. Tony was in the Main Event. This is how many youngsters in San Diego developed their passion for boxing – watching Tony.

In May 1988, Tony and I went all the way to East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa to fight Odwa Mdleleni. Going into the 10th and final round, I told Tony we were down, and we needed a knockout. Or at least a knockdown. He took that final round convincingly, and got me my knockdown for the win.

“The bout that was for all the marbles was the one in England at the Royal Albert Hall in London against Duke McKenzie for the IBF world title. After signing the contract, we had a month to get ready. Tony came to me and told me his sister was getting married. He just had to go home, back to Boston. I begged him not to go. But Tony, at 26, was so sure he could get ready. He said he had to go. When he got back from the wedding he was nine pounds overweight, and we had only two weeks to get ready. I still believe if he hadn’t gone home and been with his buddies, he could have won the title. As it was, the fight was stopped early in round #4 after a head-butt from McKenzie which caused a nasty gash over Tony’s right eye.”

The Friday, November 2, 2012, Boxing show honoring Tony DeLuca is at the Four Points By Sheraton Hotel on Aero Drive in San Diego. It will feature the slick Emmanuel Robles of Old School Boxing going after win number six.

They’ll also be honoring five of the recent inductees to the California Boxing Hall of Fame: boxer, now pastor James “The Heat” Kinchen; boxer, now trainer Norman “Bumpy” Parra; American sportscaster, news anchor, movie producer, actor and restaurant owner, Jim Lampley who has covered a record 14 Olympic Games on U.S. television; ex-Lieutenant Colonel of the Marine Corps, now boxing official, Fritz Werner; and of course Bobby DePhilippis, well-known boxing promoter, financier, restaurant owner, and man about town.

To rehash what we heard over and over again, “Tony was a genuine, thoroughly nice guy.” That my friends is the gospel truth.

Tony is survived by his wife, Teresa Deluca of Chula Vista; mother Christine Marchulaitis of Greenland, N. H.; three sisters: Cheryl Marchulaitis of Greenland, Kimberly Reed of Rye, N.H. and Brenda Beigel of Witchita, Kansas; four nephews, Ross, Adam, Ryan and Justin and three nieces, Crystal, Elizabeth and Katie.

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