Vinnie Curto

Why We Help Abused Kids

Every time I think about Roger Phillips it’s as if my life suddenly stops and I can’t go on.... One night in August of 1977 in Bathe, Maine, I was scheduled to fight Roger Phillips. It was amazing, he was supposed to be a tune up for Marvelous Marvin Hagler, who I was signed to fight September 20th, 1977. I stopped in Portland to see who was playing or fighting at the Civic Center. There was advertising all over the place about Elvis playing at the Civic Center. I needed somehow to meet him, and did briefly. I have always met anyone I truly wanted to meet. I would find out when I finally would meet them, that they were boxing fans of mine.  I’m not saying I was some big star I was just a good fighter that people marveled at the way I would easily defeat a much bigger or a much more experienced opponent.

The truth of the matter was, yes, I should have moved around this kid Phillips and won a decision and let him leave the ring with dignity. Instead I went out and tried to I was the underdog my whole life and I have seven kids (he had one ringside) and he represented what I did not want to become. On that night Mr. Phillips represented everything that I hated about me.  Nobody knew Mr. Phillips... On the outside I was Vinnie Curto the fighter with all kinds of talent...just ask the experts. 

But nobody knew about the inside, how my father and his drunken gay friends repeatedly would rape me when I was a lot younger. The scars are deep and seem to surface when I would least expect it. Abuse of a child causes a deep insecurity and a narcissistic need for attention.  My father’s ghost that night consumed me but I somehow had to fight back. I was destroyed mentally, crying out, but the world did not want to hear about the little boy inside of me that was clinging to life.

The outcome?! I did destroy my father that night momentarily and I knocked out Roger Phillips, but Mr. Phillips was not really the appropriate target.  When I heard of Roger’s death by his own hands, I realized my father died two years before, Aug 8th 1975..  Why did I do this?! My next fight (which would have been against Hagler) was where I should have unloaded all the pain and animosity.

Right after this, I was offered an immediate shot at the vacant Middleweight Championship of the World against a fighter I already had a draw against in his hometown, Bad Bennie Brisco. But Pat Petronelli wouldn’t let me out of the contract with Hagler (a $5,000 purse) and Hagler wasn’t even rated at the time, and they offered me $50,000 to fight Briscoe.  Also, I told the Petronelli’s that I would sign a contract that if I beat Briscoe, they were guaranteed the first title defense. They refused. They would not let me out of the contract to participate in something I had worked so hard my whole life for.

Another program that had been indoctrinated into me as a child was that I had to win the title, or I would die.  My father would sit me down at a table with a 38 snub nosed revolver.  He would tell me, “You’re an asshole, you know it and I know it.  But if you win the World Title before everyone else knows it, you will save me the embarrassment of calling you my son. If you don’t win the Title, you are going to take this gun, put it to your head, and pull the trigger. The bullet will enter your brain, ricocheting, ripping and mashing everything in its path. You don’t win that title, you put this gun to your head, or one like it, and pull that trigger.”  Then he would laugh, and I would too, but I wasn’t laughing inside.  I did everything in my power to never have to put that gun to my head.

Then, I ran across country, to Seattle, Washington, to a ranch owned by a restauranteur with a national chain of steakhouses.  Running was something my mother taught me when the monster, my father, would come staggering down the street, drunk, and my mother would get phone calls from the neighbors warning us how bad he looked. My mother would dress us as quickly as she could and we would dash down the streets looking for a parked car to spend the rest of the night in. A horrible program from my childhood... 

I have suffered my whole life with this stigma. I had to be this macho great fighter on the surface who was sexually abused and physically beat down.. My father put me in the hospital once because I was trying to protect my mother when he was beating her in one of his many drunken stupors... I hope and pray to God that the young man and or Mr. Phillips son would read this to see how I paid over the years and suffered many defeats in life. But I think it’s time to forgive myself for a lot of things I’ve probably done consciously and unconsciously. I also suffer from a minute form of boxing dementia and it affects my memory.  If Phillips’ son gets to read this I want you to know that we all make bad choices in our lives, some are ways to learn how to function as a decent and productive human being, it’s called the trials and errors of life, and some are costly making the ultimate sacrifice.

I hope you realize that we all make mistakes but learn from the little ones so that the big catastrophic ones you can side-step.. I’m sure your Dad and me would have gotten along and become truly good friends, as I did with many of my opponents, like Vito Antuofermo and Bad Bennie Briscoe. Let’s face it, it’s the chosen few that have something in common who try to come to terms, and work-out their NOW situations for their future after so many years playing in a roped off box. I can honestly say, it hasn’t been a walk in the park. I’m waiting for the final decision from that ultimate Judge. I fell behind but I scored a lotta points late. But I think if he can see the truth from where he is, I think that one judge named Roger may sway the ultimate judge my way in a sweet way for old times sake.

For Roger’s son, who was an inadvertent victim of my own abuse, or for any kid who is being abused and is afraid to talk to people around him, here is my Email address

 P.S.  A lot of people have told me there are ways to suppress the article about Roger’s death, but I want it to stay in the forefront NOW, to show people the horror that ensues when children are abused, and for any kid in that situation to see how important it is to do something about it.


My friend Gary Stretch did this interview with me that was quite emotional because of the questioning concerning my childhood.  My innocence was taken away from me at a very young age by my father.   Whenever it comes up, I somehow lose my composure because of the memory of the heinous acts that my father and the different guys who were present and participated  at the time of these hideous violations. On that video,  I sounded like I had 400 fights instead of the 107 that I did have. With 400 fights, you blubber and make no sense, with 300, your blubbering allows for every other line you stutter out to make sense, with 107, you can normally understand me quite well.  I do have some memory loss, a lot of my friends are happy about that, on the nights they are supposed to pay, I never remember whose turn it is.   If I offended anyone, please accept my apologies… Everybody has a voice and if I knew that as a child a lot would have changed with my life and the course I took and the  decisions I made!!!  For years I screamed out but nobody knew what the real problem was… I am just now able to use the tools I have been given to release the feelings about this enough to speak…and MOST IMPORTANTLY, HAVE A VOICE FOR ALL THE ABUSED CHILDREN…!!!  I still don’t believe in a guy up in heaven on a throne, but I have experienced the Divine within us all; my life has been spared many times, and especially once, there is a God, and that’s the only answer.

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