MESA, Ariz. — Joe Carnicelli, the executive sports editor for United Press International in the 1970s and ’80s who also covered boxing and the NFL, has died. He was 75.
He died of cancer Friday at his home, his family said.
Carnicelli joined UPI after serving in the Army and worked at the news agency for 19 years, his last eight as executive sports editor. He oversaw coverage and wrote from major events including Super Bowls, title fights and the Olympics.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Carnicelli had a compact, sturdy physique that would not be out of place in a boxing gym. As a reporter, he brought a cutting wit and big laugh to ringside and the New York Jets’ locker room. As an editor, he had little patience for lazy writing that meandered off track.
“Writers learned not to use the phrase ‘new record’ in their stories,” said Mike Tully, a former UPI baseball writer. “‘There’s no such thing as a new record,’ Carnicelli would say. ‘It’s either a record or it’s not.'”
Carnicelli wrote in clipped, no-nonsense language. In the lead-up to the 1982 Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney bout, he began one story: “He has been called by some, ‘The Great White Hope,’ a title he abhors. To others, he is, ‘The Great White Hype’ or ‘The Great White Dope,’ titles which infuriate him. The only title which truly interests Gerry Cooney is the world heavyweight title …”
Carnicelli left UPI in 1984, at a time the agency was facing steep financial pressures. He would later work for more than 20 years at CompuBox, the boxing statistical service that tracks punch counts.
He also worked in various roles at the Downtown Athletic Club, ESPN SportsTicker and Lapin & Rose Public Relations, where he was a representative for Marvin Hagler for his middleweight title fight with Thomas Hearns in 1985.
He is survived by Peggy Carnicelli, his wife of more than 50 years; his daughter, Donna; and a grandson.