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Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Obituary: Kenny "Bang Bang" Bogner

Kenny "Bang Bang" Bogner passed away at his home on February 14, 2023 at the age of 62.

Born on January 9, 1961, Bogner grew up in Trenton, New Jersey. Overcoming a serious ankle injury as a youth, he became a decorated amateur boxer. He won the New Jersey Golden Gloves in 1977, medaled in the '77 Maccabiah Games, and participated in the 1980 National Golden Gloves.

Less than a year into his pro career, Kenny had won eleven fights with one draw. He then fell to future world champion Livingston Bramble by seventh round stoppage. Bogner won his next eleven fights, including a sensational fight against Cato Wilson in 1982.

After a ninth round TKO victory over Edwin Curet, it seemed as if Bogner would finally cash in, but potential fights against Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini and Hector "Macho" Camacho fell through. Instead, Bogner's aspirations to win the lightweight title slowly faded because of trouble with the law.

Muggsy Episcopo, a longtime trainer and manager, said of Kenny, "He was a good fighter, a gutsy fighter. If it wasn’t for trouble, he would have been a champion." Further mucking up his career, Bogner's contract was owned by mob associate Arthur Pelullo.

Bogner came back in 1987 after three and half years of inaction and lost to Remi Di Carlo by sixth round TKO. Bang Bang notched three more wins scattered over the next six years and completed his career 25-2-1 with 16 KOs.

Legal troubles continued. In 2011, he was arrested for stealing groceries, just one of his many unfortunate transgressions. After his arrest, Kenny claimed he simply forgot to pay and then made a telling remark, "I didn't even realize it! I'm a fighter; I'm a little stupid sometimes. The punches did it." Twelve years later, with an increased understanding of CTE, we now understand his comments in a new sympathetic light.

Bogner, who was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame in 2017, seemed to have stayed out of trouble in the last decade of his life. While he made many mistakes in his 62 years, it's clear his loved ones cared for Kenny and are heartbroken by his passing. As one friend commented years ago, "What a good guy he is. Yeah he was involved in some stupid stuff, but hey, it's life. It doesn't mean he's a bad guy!"

Kenny once said of his complicated legacy, "I mean, I did handicapped benefits, muscular dystrophy benefits, a marathon run for disabled people, and so forth. They don't remember all the good things."

His funeral will be held on Sunday, March 5 from 4-6pm at Brenna Funeral Home at 1799 Klockner Road, Hamilton, NJ.

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