Francis R. Bond, 86, a longtime owner, driver and trainer at Batavia Downs and Buffalo Raceway, died peacefully Tuesday morning (Dec. 26) at United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, NY.
"Franny" Bond was born in Buffalo, N.Y. on July 27, 1931. He became a Marine after leaving school and began boxing while in the service in the Armed Forces Title Fights. He fought in the lightweight class and eventually worked into the featherweight division. The then 126-pound "fighting Marine" was described as "a game and lively scrapper who could take a hit and come back with a better one."
Corporal Bond became one of the Marines' top boxers, winning a featherweight title in 1953 while often times fighting men from the professional ranks between service bouts and sometimes competing in higher weight classes.
Mr. Bond continued to fight professionally in the Golden Gloves after he left the service under the name Bobby Bond and was trained by Angelo Dundee, who also conditioned the likes of Muhammad Ali, George Foremen, Sugar Ray Leonard and Carmen Basilio. He competed in 15 professional fights all over the eastern seaboard including New York City at Madison Square Garden.
Mr. Bond first got involved in harness racing in 1966 and eventually got his trainer and driver’s licenses. He ran a small stable for the next 39 years, seeing most of his driving success in the 1970’s (where he scored 135 of his 189 careers victories) and most of his training accomplishments (total of 108) between 1990 and 2000. Mr. Bond also occasionally catch-drove horses when the opportunity arose.
Mr. Bond’s last winning effort came on May 16, 1996 behind H F Harriet at Buffalo Raceway.
Mr. Bond was an entrepreneur and made a buck anyway he could. He owned a soft drink distributorship, ran the track kitchen at Batavia Downs and sold hay, straw and feed for many years while, and after, he was competing himself. He was known by everyone on the backstretch and was an affable individual his entire life.--By Tim Bojarski