The partnership with Ali began in Louisville, Ali's hometown, in 1959. Dundee was there with light heavyweight Willie Pastrano when the young Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, called their room from a hotel phone to ask if he could have five minutes. Clay, a local Golden Gloves champion, kept asking the men boxing questions in a conversation that lasted 3½ hours, according to Dundee's autobiography, "My View From the Corner: A Life in Boxing."
After Ali returned from Rome with a gold medal at the 1960 Olympics, Dundee ran into him in Louisville and invited him to come to Miami Beach to train. Ali declined. But that December, Dundee got a call from one of Ali's handlers, seeking to hire Dundee. After Ali won his first pro fight, Dundee accepted.
He helped Ali claim the heavyweight title for the first time on Feb. 25, 1964, when Sonny Liston quit on his stool after the sixth round during their fight in Miami Beach.
In an age of boxing when fighter-manager relationships rarely last, Dundee and Ali would never split.
When Cassius Clay angered white America by joining the Black Muslims and become Muhammad Ali, Dundee never wavered. When Ali defied the draft at the height of the Vietnam war, losing 3 1/2 years from the prime of his career, Dundee was there waiting for the heavyweight's return. And when Ali would make bold projections, spewing poetry that made headlines across the world and gave him the nickname "The Louisville Lip," Dundee never asked him to keep quiet.
"Through all those days of controversy, and the many that followed, Angelo never got involved," Ali wrote in the foreword to Dundee's book. "He let me be exactly who I wanted to be, and he was loyal. That is the reason I love Angelo."
Born Angelo Mirena on Aug. 30, 1921, in south Philadelphia, Dundee's boxing career was propelled largely by his older brother, Chris, a promoter. After returning from World War II — "We won, but not because of anything I did" — he joined Chris in the boxing game in New York, serving as his "go-fer" and getting the tag "Chris' kid brother." Angelo and Chris followed another brother Joe, who was a fighter, in changing their surname to Dundee so their parents wouldn't know they worked in boxing.
He learned to tape hands and handle cuts as a corner man in the late 1940s, building his knowledge by watching and learning as a "bucket boy" in New York for trainers like Chickie Ferrara, Charlie Goldman and Ray Arcel, among others. Word of Dundee's expertise spread, and seasoned fighters lined up to have him in their corner.
He worked major boxing scenes with Chris, with stops at the famed Stillman's Gym in New York and Miami Beach's 5th Street Gym. Dundee's fun-loving attitude, combined with his powerful Philly accent, made him a joy to be around. His lifelong love and respect for the sport earned him praise from those across the boxing world.
"He is the only man in boxing to whom I would entrust my own son," the late sportscaster Howard Cosell once said of Dundee.
In the late 1970s, with Ali nearing retirement, Dundee quickly jumped into the corner for an emerging star named Sugar Ray Leonard, whom Dundee called "a smaller Ali." Dundee trained Leonard for many of his biggest fights — including bouts against Wilfred Benitez, Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns — and helped him become one of the most recognized welterweight champions in history.
Dundee later teamed with Foreman in 1994 to help him become the oldest heavyweight champion at age 45 when he beat Michael Moorer. In one last attempt to help a big fighter win a big fight, Dundee helped train Oscar De La Hoya for his Dec. 6, 2008, fight with pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao. Dundee did not work the corner on fight night; perhaps the 35-year-old "Golden Boy" could have used him. De La Hoya declined to answer the bell for the ninth round.
Always a slick strategist and fierce competitor, Dundee developed countless tricks to help his fighters win.