There are many athletes from across the United States that have become heroes here in Buffalo. From Thurman Thomas to Gilbert Perreault, we’ve never been shy about worshiping our pro sport athletes. But how many of these all-stars can we say were Buffalo born and bred, and then went on to live the life that only many sports competitors can only dream of?
There’s no better example of a Buffalo success story than that of Danny DiLiberto. This 80-year-old Buffalonian seemed rugged but very unassuming, for someone who was once an elite boxer and then continued on to become a member of the International Pool Tour (at the age of 80, he still remains a contender). He’s a teacher, author, and has a seat in the Billiard Congress of America’s Hall of Fame, One Pocket Hall of Fame and the Ringside 44 Boxing Hall of Fame.
I sat Danny down for an interview with the goal of figuring out what makes him tick. How did he become so successful? A man of such accomplishments, like Danny, was an honor and a privilege to meet and talk with.
Danny has stories upon stories and I wish I could have heard them all. He told me tales about his Hollywood friends and his glory days. The man lived with actor James Caan, hung with multi-talented Fred Astaire and Dean Martin, and quarreled with Broadway Joe Namath.
Nicknamed “Buffalo Dan” for the city in which he came from, he could tell right off the bat that I wasn’t familiar with his sport, going as far as calling me a “sucker”. And although he said it wasn’t derogatory, I knew that if he wanted to, he could still take me to task on the billiards table any day of the week!
Early Life And Career
DiLiberto has seen much through his days of boxing, playing pool, and his other countless ventures. Born on February 19th, 1953, Danny grew up in a poor Italian neighborhood in Buffalo situated between Virginia and 10th. He excelled at many sports as most kids of that generation did, and that’s where his boxing and pool career started. It was in his younger years, after coming back from the Army, that he got a name for playing pool. He won the Buffalo City Straight Pool Championships, and his career took off from there.
Danny went on to Miami, training with the legendary Angelo Dundee and eventually fighting under the name Danny Toriani. Even though his career wasn’t very long due to several hand injuries, he ended with a professional career record of 13 wins, 1 draw and 12 KO’s. This is what led him back to the game of pool.
Danny was 27-years-old when he decided to become a professional pool player. Buffalo was his starting point to playing pool, but it wasn’t until he went to Johnston City, IL where he learned how to play the up-and-coming game known as One Pocket. For Danny, pool was a great way to avoid the nine to five lifestyle and hustle for a quick dollar. It afforded him a full-throttled lifestyle filled with championships, Las Vegas, street fights, women, and fame.
Danny continued to play pool throughout his life and still participates in playing pool. Today you can find Danny living in Buffalo. He still enjoys kicking ass in pool exhibitions and now even travels with Accu-Stats Video Productions as a color commentator for pool matches.
If you’d like to learn more about the Hall of Famer’s exploits check out “Road Player: The Danny DiLiberto Story” written by pool journalist Jerry Forsyth and Danny himself.
Professional Career Titles
- 1960 and 1961 Straight Pool City Championship
- 1962 Straight Pool New York State Championship
- 1963 Straight Pool, U. S. Masters
- 1969 U.S. Masters Straight Pool Tournament
- 1972 Tournament of Champions, Johnston City, Illinois
- 1972 World All Around Champion, Johnston City, Illinois
- 1981 BCA National Eight Ball Tournament
- 1982 Busch Southern Nine Ball Classic
- 1983 World One Pocket Tournament
- 1984 Classic Cup Nine Ball Tournament
- 1985 Eastern States Straight Pool Tournament
- 1985 World Mixed Couples Nine Ball Tournament
- 1989 Western States Nine Ball Tournament
- 1996 Senior Tour Nine Ball Tournament
- 1997 French Open Nine Ball Tournament
- 1998 French National Nine Ball Tournament
How Is “Buffalo Dan” Not In The Buffalo Hall Of Fame?
The Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame has inducted over 279 members, but “Buffalo Dan” has not gotten his notice. He’s on the Master List for consideration, but in the last 24 years since its inception, DiLiberto has not had enough votes to be enshrined in his own city’s Hall of Fame.
Slight tragedy here but what does it take to get this man in our own HoF?
Maybe that’s a question left for another day, but for today I have to say I was honored to meet the man and legend, who I believe is quite the unsung hero in Buffalo sports infamy.