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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Ilio DiPaolo

(Born November 8, 1926) -- When it comes to traveling, Ilio DiPaolo took the long way to fame in Western New York.

This native son of Italy moved to Venezuela in his 20s, learned to wrestle in the Dominican Republic, and eventually landed here. DiPaolo lived in Crystal Beach, Ontario, for a while as he took part in events throughout Canada. In fact, DiPaolo eventually was inducted into Canada’s Wrestling Hall of Fame.

He married Ethel, the step-daughter of Buffalo promoter Pedro Martinez, in 1952. That meant he took part in some matches in Buffalo, which didn’t call for much travel. DiPaolo opened a restaurant in Blaisdell in 1965. He is said to have returned to the “office” after time in the squared circle to sign some autographs and say hello to customers and fans.

And talk about a “gentle giant” - DiPaolo was one of those people who seemed to generate good will wherever he went. It’s impossible to find someone who has a bad word to say about him.

It all made DiPaolo’s death in 1995 that much more tragic. He was hit by a car in front of the restaurant and died instantly. DiPaolo went into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.

--- Budd Bailey

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