STEUBENVILLE - Angelo Magnone's transition from football player to boxer started with a message on Facebook. It will continue Sunday when he steps into the ring for his first amateur bout.
Magnone, the Big Red graduate who earned 2005 Division III co-defensive player of the year honors, will headline the 10-bout card being presented by the Made Men Boxing Club at the Spot Bar on South Fourth Street.
From Big Red, Magnone, who stands 6-2 and goes 230, went on to earn four letters at Bowling Green State University as a defensive end. Once his playing days were over, he received the Facebook message inviting him to the All-American Heavyweights facility in Carsons, Calif.
"I had never boxed before so the invitation came as a real surprise," Magnone said. "All-American was looking to recruit college athletes and turn them into boxers. They offered me the opportunity and I thought it would be a good chance to live in California and get paid to train."
During his time in California, Magnone worked with some of the best trainers in boxing including world-renown Tommy Brooks, Simon Brown and Henry Tillman.
"While I was there, Dominic Breazeale also was training," Magnone added. "He was another former football player who had never boxed. He just represented the U.S. in the London Olympics as a super heavyweight."
Magnone, a Weirton native who now lives in Steubenville, was able to train in California for several months until suffering a shoulder injury. He returned to the area but still had the boxing bug.
Since coming back, Magnone has been training for more than a year under the tutelage of Artie Thompson.
"Artie has been around boxing for years," Magnone pointed out. "He was a corner man in a couple of world title fights and he has a lot of respect in the boxing community."
A few months ago, Magnone and a few other local amateur boxers decided to form the Made Men Boxing Club.
"We think it is a cool name, something original," he said. "We needed to have a club in order to put shows on."
At the moment, the club has six members but Magnone is hoping Sunday's event will help generate more interest.
"Having someone like Artie with his credibility definitely will help us draw some interest for more participation," Magnone indicated. "We're also hoping to raise money in order to put together a better gym."
Magnone and other club members currently are training at Smitty's Sportatorium in downtown Steubenville.
"Amateur boxing used to be big around here but it's kind of dead right now mainly because there is no place to train," he said.
"We think if we have a good facility, the interest will start to develop."
In addition to Magnone, Sunday's show also will feature Nelson Best, a graduate of Edison High School. Other boxers will come from Pittsburgh, Youngstown and Cleveland. The amateurs will wear headgear and sport 12-ounce gloves.
Aaron Quattrochi of Follansbee also will be featured. He is a 2008 graduate of Brooke High School and won the 2008 Pittsburgh Golden Gloves as a heavyweight.
In 2010, while at West Virginia University, he was a collegiate boxing all-American. He will compete in the 190-pound division. Magnone will compete as a heavyweight.
Tickets are priced at $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Advance tickets are available at the Spot Bar, Smokey's of Steubenville and Belmonte's Pizza in Weirton. A limited amount of reserved table seats can be purchased at Smokey's or by calling (740) 284-2754.
Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. event. Proceeds will benefit the Made Men Boxing Club.
Major sponsors for the event are Budweiser and Yuengling of Choice Brands; the Sellitti, Nogay and McCune Law Firm; Mike Simon's VMG Spots; and Scaffidi's Pasta.
Magnone, who admits he enjoys the contact of his new sport, said besides keeping him in shape, boxing also provides a "little bigger of a rush than football."
"You are one-on-one in the ring, all eyes are on you," he said.