Al Tripoli was born Salvatore Tripoli in New York City on November 27, 1904, and four years later his parents moved to Yonkers where Al attended School 18 and Yonkers High School. He joined the Hollywood Inn Club where he first came into contact with boxing as a sport at the tender age of 16. He revealed such proficiency that he was selected to wear the colors of the Hollywood Inn in a boxing tournament sponsored by the Elks Club. Fighting under the name of Jack Williams to hide this type of recreational activity from his mother, Al stopped Jackie Chambers of the Harlem Club and decisioned Blank Irving of the Ascension Parish House to win the 118 pound title. His performances drew raves from the referee, Jack Britton, former welterweight boxing champion of the world
Al Tripoli proceeded to cut a winning swathe through the amateur ranks and opponents throughout the eastern seaboard to succumbed to the hard hitting, clever boxer. He won the Westchester County amateur bantamweight championship and the scored his 26th consecutive knockouts in disposing of Charley Goodman of the Boston Boys Club in Madison Square Garden in 53 seconds of the first round to sew up the Inter-City Tournament title for New York City,
At the age of 18, scarcely three years after he donned boxing gloves for the first time, he became national 118 pounds champion, thus earning the right to represent the United States in the Olympic Games. It was in Boston that he was crowned champion, the best 200 aspiring boxing greats from 24 states, decision Theodore Ritzmore and Harry Mills, knocking out Phil Goldstein and defeating Joe Lazarus of New York, who found it difficult to avoid Tripoli’s lighting-like left jab. Al, who had never been far from home, had a great deal of trouble getting permission from his mother Rose to go to the Olympics. It was necessary for James Lee, assistant superintendent of the Hollywood Inn, to intercede on his behalf. Thus, he became the second Yonkers representative in the1924 Olympics, the other being tennis Vincent Richards.
So young Al Tripoli, still fighting under the name of Jackie Williams, arrived in England where he defeated Eddie Tarrant of England, and Uria Usaveaga of Chile and Adrian Portuzzo of Argentina. He then met Tod Smith of South Africa, and fighting with two broken hands, lost a close decision. The broken hands almost ended his fistic career but doctors removed the splintered bone fragments from his right hand, removed a smell piece of skin bone and inserted it in the damaged hand. He was now ready for the professional ranks under his real name, Al Tripoli.
Crafty Billy Gibson, who managed such fistic luminaries as Benny Leonard and Gene Tunney, took the Young pro under his wing. In his debut in 1925, at the age of 21, he polished off Joe Dundee in one round and went on to defeat such outstanding fisticuffers as Willie Spencer, Wille David, Al Nuzzalla, Joe Souza, Alf Lewis, J.C Burns, Wee Kimmy Collins, Jimmy Ruffalo, Tommy Gervel and Nick Quagarellli in a most illustrious career.
As an amateur he fought 125 bouts, won 115, lost 10 and scored 75 knockouts. As a professional he fought 67 bouts, won 60, and lost 7. When one of boxing greatest coaches, Spike Webb, was asked to name his All Time Olympic Boxing Team, Al Tripoli was the 118-pound selection.