One of the things I like best about living in NYC is the way I get a regular dose of perspective medicine from immigrants. Chatting with cabbies who come from places where food and work is much harder to come by, and rulers frown harshly on free speech, to the point where you might get locked up -- or worse --for talking too candidly, I am reminded that while there is much to improve in our society, there are many things about our nation to be proud of.
I got a little dose of perspective last week while listening to Italian immigrant Floriano Pagliara, age 33, who fights on Thursday night at the Roseland Ballroom in a show promoted by Lou DiBella and headlined by a Seanie Monaghan-Romaro Johnson fight. The super featherweight Pagliara (12-4-1), in halting but completely understandable English, oozed sincerity and humility at Marco Polo restaurant in Carroll Gardens, which hosted the press conference to hype the card.
“Four years ago when I left Italy to come here, I was no speak English,” he said. “I was no friends, I was no home, I was no job, I was no money, I was ... problem. I wanted to go to the best place to become top boxer.” So he headed to New York, to the only destination name that stuck in his head: Gleason's. The gym and the city welcomed him with open arms, and Pagliara returned the favor, striking up friendships with people like WBA welterweight champion Paulie Malignaggi, trainer Tommy Gallagher, and his promoter, Rich Komissar. Pags will aim for his 13th win on Thursday, against 6-9-2 Rynell Griffin, a Louisiana resident.
Komissar has been in this business since the crib; his dad Stanley was a big hitter in the '50s and '60s, as a promoter-trainer-manager, so he grew up with fighters crashing out on the family’s sofa. He has seen all sides of fighters, up close. “Floriano’s not a con artist,” he said. “He’s so genuine, real, gullible. Wherever he goes, people gravitate to Floriano.”