One of the sport’s good guys has made the media rounds for one of his worst days.
Veteran ring Joe Antonacci was recently charged with assault and criminal defacement stemming from a springtime road rage incident in Elmhurst, Illinois, according to a report from Patch.com. Antonacci—a New Jersey native who now lives in the Chicago suburb of Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois—was arrested in mid-June, weeks after the April 29 incident in question where he ultimately confessed to yelling at another driver and spitting on his car after initially denying the incident.
Police records obtained by BoxingScene.com indicate that an arrest warrant was generated on June 17. The 61-year-old Antonacci appeared before the judge on June 27 in the 18th Judicial Circuit Cort of Dupage County, Illinois, and was formally charged with one count of assault.
According to the report filed with City of Elmhurst Police Department, an unidentified 27-year-old male called authorities after he was approached by a motorist driving a Lexus on Illinois Route 83 on April 29. The aggressor—identified weeks later as Antonacci—pulled over, exited the Lexus and approached the alleged victim’s vehicle.
The version shared by the unidentified victim was that Antonacci screamed, “Pussy, get out of the fuckin’ car” and then reached into the vehicle when the 27-year-old motorist would not comply. The alleged victim then secured his vehicle to prevent Antonacci from entering, at which time the ring announcer—also known as a comedian and copyright owner of the recreated ‘Joe Palooka’ comic book series—spat on the car, leaving behind residue.
The investigation ran through early June, at which point it was closed after failing to develop any sufficient leads to identify the suspect in question. The police report indicates that the case was reopened after a police officer from Streamwood, a northwestern Chicago suburb, identified an enclosed photo with the alert regarding the incident.
Police then visited the Oakbrook Terrace residence of Antonacci, who initially denied any knowledge of the case before confessing to his role in the incident. According to the report, Antonacci told authorities that the other driver “flipped me off” (extend the middle finger in the direction of another party), which he took as a personal attack which triggered his reaction. Antonacci’s recollection was approaching the other motorist and telling me to ‘Be a man and get out of the car.’ He also claims that the driver honked his horn at him and attempted to stop short in front of his Lexus while both were driving along Route 83.
Antonacci also confessed to spitting on the other vehicle after initially claiming that his actions were limited to rapping on the other driver’s car window. The 61-year-old informed the interviewing officer that the incident weighed on his mind in the weeks after the interaction, understanding that road rage is a worsening epidemic throughout the country.
The irony in the incident is that Antonacci is known throughout the combat sports world as ‘Gentleman Joe,’ an identifiable figure from his buzzcut and customary tuxedo as he’s worked boxing events on nearly every major platform. The emcee was a staple of the now-defunct ESPN2 Friday Night Fight series and also the regular ring announcer for New Jersey-based promotional outfit Main Events.
Antonacci reportedly donated a large portion of his ring announcer earnings to local amateur boxing programs and retired and disabled boxers in need. He has also emerged as an award-winning comedian, while also revamping the Joe Palooka comic book series that previously chronicled the life of a fictional heavyweight champion. Antonacci’s 2012 reboot depicts an MMA fighter.
Antonacci is next due to appear in court on July 25.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox