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Subject: Joe DeNucci, Boxer turned politician (longest serving Auditor in Mass. history)

Dead at 78
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Date Posted: Friday, September 08, 06:07:01pm

A janitor’s son, Joe DeNucci grew up to be a ranked middleweight prizefighter and then the longest-serving state auditor in Massachusetts history, accumulating scars along the way in boxing and political arenas alike. “The ring is a tough business,” he once said. “Politics is a tough business in a different way.”

Mr. DeNucci, who was 78 when he died in his Newton home Friday of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, won his first 16 professional fights, 13 by knockouts, and he fought in more Boston Garden bouts than any other boxer in history. In his auditor’s office, he kept a photo of a 1972 loss in a split decision to former world champion Emile Griffith, upon which he had scribbled: “I was robbed.”

His record was even more impressive on Election Day than it was in the boxing ring. Mr. DeNucci served as auditor for 24 years, after being elected five times as a state representative from Newton, his lifelong home. His only loss came in 1974, in his first campaign for the Legislature. “I won by seven votes when the machine tally was in,” he told the Globe a decade later. “I lost it by four votes when the absentee ballots were counted. It was like the Griffith fight all over again. Another split decision.”

Never in doubt, however, was the impact the Newton Democrat had on state politics and throughout the Commonwealth. In 1983, as House chairman of the Legislature’s joint Committee on Human Services and Elderly Affairs, he sponsored and shepherded landmark legislation that requires the state Department of Social Services to report serious child abuse cases to law enforcement officials. “We are beginning to finally admit to the fact that child abuse is a painful, serious problem,” Mr. DeNucci said in July 1983 when Governor Michael S. Dukakis signed the statute into law.



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