Guglielmo Papaleo better known as Willie Pep was born in the largely Italian Middletown, Connecticut, in the USA on September 19, 1922. Not much has been documented about his immediate family, though. Willie worked as a shoe shiner during the severe times of the great economic depression which took place in the 1930’s. Pep’s father who worked then, used to earn a measly sum of 15 dollars which was hardly enough to provide for his family. Perhaps this struggle is what pushed Willie to drop out of school to work and pursue his dreams.
While still working as a shoe shiner, Willie joined the gym in the company of his friend and partner in business Jonny Duke. It was during this time that he enrolled as a boxer. Sooner, Willie was earning a good amount of money from fighting only one day per week. It was not until his parents found out about his sprouting boxing career, that his father, unlike his mother who was very worried about his son, encouraged him, to consider boxing for two days each week.
He is said to have learned boxing while on duty, as he meticulously protected his shoeshine stable. His complicated and hard to understand nature comes out of play due to the fact that by the time he died, he had married six times. This man was strong willed and nothing could easily put him down. At one point when his doctor raised concerns that his boxing could have led to his Alzheimer’s condition, he wondered out loud and said to his wife, “but honey, I never got hit” Surprisingly, he at one point served in the American army. Today the writers have something to write about him because he was a man whose determination he held constantly.