Salvatore R. "Sam" Butera, an amateur boxing champion and restaurant owner, died Wednesday in his Buffalo home, after a long fight with lung cancer. He was 78.
Born in Buffalo, he attended city schools and started boxing at 14. He was known as "the Atomic Muscle" when he won the 1943 and 1944 U.S. Golden Gloves bantamweight championship and 1944 British Empire amateur bantamweight title. The following year he won the Golden Gloves featherweight championship.
In 1945, Mr. Butera joined the Army, where he became featherweight champion of the Sixth, Eighth and 25th armies. He was a member of the Army boxing team in 1947. His career record of 103 wins -- 100 by knockout -- against two losses, both by decision, earned him a place in the Buffalo Veteran Boxers Association Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2002.
For many years, Mr. Butera, who loved to cook, owned the Coconut Grove restaurant on Connecticut Street and was active in West Side business groups. His last restaurant before he became ill was Sam's, on Niagara Street.
He loved politics, and in 1997 ran for the Niagara District seat on the Common Council. The Niagara District Republican Committee honored him by declaring July 25, 2001, Sam Butera Day.
Surviving are his wife of 53 years, the former Arlene Schwarztrauber; a daughter, Grace Sinatra of Amherst; two brothers, Tavie of New Port Richey, Fla. and Leo of Land O' Lakes, Fla.; a sister, Grace Hughes of Seminole, Fla.; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Monday in Annunciation Catholic Church, Lafayette Avenue and Greenwood Place. Prayers will be said at 8:30 in Joseph Spano and Sons Funeral Home, 885 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst. Burial will be in Elmlawn Cemetery, Town of Tonawanda.