Jack Reno of Hasbrouck Heights, a Depression-era fighter whose undefeated ledger landed him in the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and who patrolled downtown Newark on horseback after following his career in the ring was done died Thursday.
Mr. Reno, who was conspicuous for puffing a cigar while taking daily walks through Hasbrouck Heights, "was trying to hold on for his 100th birthday" April 13 said his daughter, Karen Reno.
The Linden-born John "Jack" Reno Sr. found boxing fame while in the Civilian Conservation Corps, his daughter said.
Mr. Reno picked up the story from there, in a 1993 interview with The Record:
"I was working as a lumberjack in New England at a lumber mill, and one day they had a boxing card," he said. "I was just there as a spectator and they needed a bout. Someone said I was a pretty good amateur, so I fought my first professional fight. I knocked the guy out. From then on, I was a steady participant."
And a successful one at that. The 5-foot-9-inch southpaw posted a 36-0-2 record between 1933 and 1935. He won the Vermont welterweight title in 1935 but the accomplishment received little notice, and he waited 61 years to receive his championship belt.
"Maybe it got lost in the mail," he joked after finally being awarded the showpiece.
World War II found Mr. Reno with the Army Air Corps; he saw action in the South Pacific. He joined the Newark police in 1947 as a mounted officer and stayed active in boxing as a Golden Gloves coach.
He met his wife, Jutta, cq while on patrol with his equine partner, Pete.
According to a Newark Star-Ledger article from 1952, Jutta took to feeding Pete carrots every time the horse and Officer Reno happened by.
"By the time she brought her third carrot down, I knew it was love," Mr. Reno was quoted as saying.
Mr. Reno retired in 1972 as the mounted squad's commanding officer. Then he put in more than a decade as an inspector for the New Jersey Racing Commission.
In addition to his wife of 60 years and his daughter, Mr. Reno is survived by sons John Jr. and Peter, and a granddaughter.
Astute readers may note the similarity between the names of Mr. Reno's younger son and his four-legged partner.
"Dad loved that horse so much that he named my kid brother after him," Karen Reno said.
Visiting will be Wednesday 2/6 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Costa Memorial Home, Hasbrouck Heights, and the funeral service will be held there Thursday at 10 a.m.
Published in The Record on Feb. 5, 2013