Richie Giachetti, renowned boxing trainer, dies at 76

Boxing trainer Richie Giachetti, best known for his long run with former heavyweight world champion Larry Holmes, died on Wednesday. He was 76.

Giachetti, born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and a longtime resident of the Cleveland area, battled kidney and other health problems in recent years.

During his heyday, he was one of boxing's most renowned cornermen and worked with a who's who of fighters.

He trained Mike Tyson for five fights and was in his corner for the infamous ear-bite fight when he was disqualified in the third round for biting off a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear in a 1997 heavyweight world title bout.

Among the numerous other fighters Giachetti, who was close to promoter Don King, worked with at one time or another: James "Buster" Douglas, Aaron Pryor, Esteban De Jesus, Earnie Shavers, Riddick Bowe, Michael Dokes, Oliver McCall, Greg Page, Jean-Marc Mormeck, Steve Cunningham and Julian Jackson.

But Giachetti, who boxed as an amateur, was most closely associated with Holmes, whom he also managed. He was with Holmes when he outpointed Ken Norton in their epic 15-round battle for the WBC heavyweight title in 1978.

Holmes was known for his superb jab, which he rode to 20 title defenses until losing the title -- with Giachetti still in his corner -- to Michael Spinks in 1985.

"Nobody had that jab," Giachetti told his hometown Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2012 about Holmes, whom he stayed close to in retirement. "He hit with that jab so hard he knocked guys out. I taught that. When guys stopped using that, they lost fights."

Of all the dozens of big fights Giachetti was part of, he counted Tyson's disqualification against Holyfield as one of his most disappointing.

"I had him in great shape for that fight," Giachetti told the Plain Dealer in the 2012 interview. "Holyfield was head-butting him. But it was a matter of rage and nobody could stop [Tyson]."

Giachetti trained Tyson for the four fights he had following his loss of the undisputed title to Douglas in 1990 -- Henry Tillman, Alex Steward and both bouts against Donovan "Razor" Ruddock -- before Tyson went to prison for rape. King put Giachetti back in place as Tyson's trainer before the Holyfield rematch. Decades earlier, Giachetti had helped King promote his first boxing show, which was headlined by a Muhammad Ali exhibition in Cleveland.

Cunningham, a former two-time cruiserweight titleholder and a heavyweight contender, trained with Giachetti from 2002 until '06, and has remained close to Giachetti's son Tony and daughter Tori.

Cunningham said Tony called him Wednesday night to tell him about his father's passing and "we went down memory lane."

Cunningham, who was brought to Giachetti by former manager Jimmy Adams, described him as "a cool dude, but he was one guy who would tell you off the top what he thought of you. There was no holding back with Richie, nice or bad."

During their time together, Cunningham lived with Giachetti on his farm in Lodi, Ohio.

"I trained in the barn at his house," Cunningham said. "He would tell me, 'These are same [heavy] bags that Larry Holmes trained on.' He liked to have his fighters stay with him. His house was his camp.

"His pedigree as a trainer was superb. When you have a trainer who worked with Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, Aaron Pryor, how can you pass that up? He pushed me."

When they weren't working in the gym, Cunningham said they went to the movies all the time.

"We spent so much time in the movies together, me, him and his son and daughter," Cunningham said. "But we also worked hard in the gym. Richie was a rough dude, a hard man, an acquired taste. But I knew who Richie Giachetti was. I've seen him do a lot of good things for a lot of people and being with him was like a history lesson every day, hearing about Holmes, Tyson, Pryor, all the great fighters he trained."

Funeral services were not set yet, but Cunningham said they would probably be this weekend.