The main source of information on the career of Liverpool-born boxer Dom Volante has come from the pages of the Liverpool Echo in which he featured regularly from his earliest bouts until his death in 1982. Many different sportswriters penned these pieces but the common thread throughout them all is the affection and high regard which Liverpudlians had for him. “He was a diamond in the rough and as big-hearted as anyone breathing” (17th November 1951) .
Dominic Anthony Volante was born on 15th January 1905, the son of Italian-born parents who had met and married in Liverpool. Vincenzo Volante [1862-1940], who would use the name ‘James’, was a musician and piano tuner who also rented out barrel-organs. His wife, Maria Grazia D’Annunzio [1869-1958], was a cousin of sculptor Michael D’Annunzio two of whose statues stand in front of the Walker Art Gallery. The family (Dom being one of fourteen children) lived at 86 Gerard Street L3 (now demolished) near the centre of the city in an area known as ‘Little Italy’ due to the number of Italian immigrants who settled there.
He made his professional debut in 1922, aged 17, and would go on to fight around 140 bouts over 14 years. He had two title fights against Johnny Cuthbert, losing both on points, but was destined to end his career without ever gaining a national title. He did, however, defeat several title holders including his close friend Nel Tarleton, Seaman Watson, Johnny Curley and Harry Corbett. He also defeated 3 French title holders and 2 Belgian. After sustaining a serious eye injury in February 1933 he retired from the ring on medical advice but was lured back two years later. He fought a further six bouts, undefeated, before finally hanging up his gloves in 1936. The Liverpool Echo reported that he was opening a gymnasium, the ‘Adelphi Studio’ in Mount Pleasant. He tried his hand at managing fighters but eventually found a niche position running the gymnasium on the liners Britannic and Queen Mary. Later in life he worked as a security officer the Jacobs biscuit factory at long Lane, Aintree.
Outside of his boxing he was also well-known for his harmonica playing, gracing such venues as the Pavilion Theatre in Sandy Powell’s Mouth Organ Band. He also appeared alongside Nel Tarleton who was a very capable tap dancer.
In the 1930’s the Volante family were living at 95 Brownlow Hill L3. He later lived with his sister at Woolfall Heights in Huyton. He died in 1982.
Dom Volante (right) with his good friend Nel Tarleton.
A view of Gerard Street from roughly the time of Dom Volante's birth.
© Liverpool Footprints