LONG ISLAND CITY — Tony Mazzarella, founder of the popular Waterfront Crabhouse and a "legend" in the New York City boxing community, died earlier this week, friends of the restaurateur said.
"He was centric in the community," said Joe Conley, a Community Board 2 member and friend who knew Mazzarella both through the seafood eatery — a fixture in the neighborhood for decades — and through his work with charitable organizations.
Mazzarella, 77 and a father of three, had volunteered with the American Cancer Society, according to Conley. He helped raise money for children with cancer and their families, and hosted holiday parties for them at his restaurant each year.
Active in the local boxing community, he also helped start a program called "Golden Mittens," which sought to get kids involved in sports, Conley said.
"He would go through walls to get something accomplished...He was able to do some amazing things," he said. "You couldn't ask for a better friend, better advocate. He was a real champion in the neighborhood."
Mazzarella was a member of Ring 8, an organization dedicated to helping members of the boxing community which holds its meetings at the Waterfront Crabhouse, according to a press release from the group, which said he had passed "after a long illness."
"I don't think there would be a Ring 8 today if not for Tony's generosity and perseverance," the group's president Bob Duffy said in a statement, recalling Mazzarella's enthusiasm for promoting shows and hosting awards dinners.
"He was a leader and remains a legend in New York City boxing," Duffy said. "We will all miss Tony Mazzarella more than words alone can properly describe."