Mafia, an unfulfilled promise and a brothel: the last days of “Ringo” Bonavena before falling into a trap and being killed

Oscar Natalio Bonavenabetter known by popular outcry as “Ringo”, was assassinated on May 22, 1976. In one of his many visits to the brothel Mustan

Oscar Natalio Bonavenabetter known by popular outcry as “Ringo”, was assassinated on May 22, 1976. In one of his many visits to the brothel Mustang Ranch, located in the American city of Reno, in Nevada, was shot in the chest that turned out to be the final bell.

His last rounds were far from that boxer who dazzled an entire stadium moon park -at that time the mecca of boxing- in his fight against Gregory Peralta (Argentine heavyweight champion) and who broke the audience record of the time when facing the mythical Muhammad Ali with 79.3 points of rating: a mark that would be surpassed, years later, with the semifinal of the 1990 World Cup between Argentina and Italy.

A few months before his death, In November 1975, “Ringo” gave his last fight in the country. It was before Raul Gorosito, who had a relentless amateur stage with 102 consecutive victories and whom the native of Parque de Los Patricios considered a colleague and friend. Finally, the cards gave Bonavena the winner, who enjoyed the encouragement of his audience.

After that fight, Joe Montano, a Puerto Rican based in New York who had a large portfolio of boxers under his tutelage, had a talk with him and managed to convince him to sign a representative contract. It is believed that one of the reasons that helped tip the scales to accept was a promise of revenge against Ali.

Ringo brought out his defiant character against Muhammad Ali, one of the most recognized boxers in the world

But it all turned out to be a hoax. Montano transferred the contractual agreement with Bonavena to Joe Conforte, a 57-year-old Sicilian who went from being a taxi driver to entering the world of prostitution in Nevada and who was married to Sally BurgessTwelve years older than him. Once in Reno, the couple decided to manage and operate the Mustang Ranch. They did it with the endorsement of Lou Bonanno’s mafia boss, whose organization was dedicated to gambling and prostitution.

Under that exclusive contract, the Argentine boxer played only one fight: it was against Billy Joiner on February 27, 1976.whom he beat on points, without any intention of doing it for knock outdespite the vast superiority he had with his opponent.

At that time, Bonavena and his friend, Julius Morales, who accompanied him from Buenos Aires, settled in a campsite four kilometers from the cabaret, and there they bought a trailer for 12 thousand dollars. The proximity to the brothel made him a habitué of the place, although this was not an environment conducive to that “Ringo” who had arrived in the United States with a clear goal, to confront Ali again, something that never happened.

The sum of unfulfilled promises was wearing him down, and his fights were far from being those of the Luna Park, where her figure shone before an audience that was increasingly demanding. That time, in that single fight, on the other side of some improvised ropes that delimited the combat quadrant, the people who attended threw pieces of food into the ring, in a clear offense to their profession.

Joe Conforte and his partner, Sally, set a deadly trap for RingoJoe Conforte and his partner, Sally, set a deadly trap for Ringo

Bonavena threatened his sponsors to break the contract, but Sally calmed him down, gifted him a large sum of dollars and paved the way for him to become a permanent resident of the United States. To do this, he had to “marry” a girl nicknamed Daisy, 24 years old: a kind of staging to obtain residence papers.

However, by then, his days in the harem were already numbered: Joe Conforte had ordered his bodyguards Ross Brymer and John Coletti to get out of sight immediately. because the Argentine had begun to interfere in matters related to the brothel business.

A warning that the situation had no return was when “Ringo” returned to his trailer, in which he lived with his friend, and found all his documentation and personal belongings set on fire. Of few fleas, he took the attack like a wet ear and this boxer, who earned his living by tumbling, provoked a fit of rage.

Now without Julio, his confidant, who decided to step aside, Bonavena was left alone and stunned. On May 22, he was due to board a flight from Los Angeles to Buenos Aires. and thus put an end to this stay in the United States, which had begun with an illusion, but had turned out to be a nightmare. However, before going to the airport, and after a provocative call from the mafia, the boxer boarded his Chevrolet Coupe car. The destination was the Mustang Ranch, and his intention: settle unfinished business with the bullies who set him up.

“Dolor de pueblo”, a record from the time of Ringo Bonavena’s death

Upon arrival at the place, a fence prevented access. In the other side, Conforte’s bodyguards suggested that he leave. Before the ban, the desire was even greater. There was no second notice. With his Remington 30-08 shotgun, William Ross Brymer gave him an accurate shot from a tower and one of the bullets pierced his heart.

At 33 years old, “Ringo” died in complete solitude and, with this sad fact, the heart of national boxing stopped beating for a few hours. His funeral, at Luna Park, was accompanied by 100,000 anguished people, who put aside the crack of “idol” or “non-idol” and remembered those evenings in which the country rested its eyes on a person who was an example. for many Argentines.