Tony DeMarco Finally Gets Honored
By James Stillerman - Thanks to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, Tony “Boston Bomber” DeMarco 58-12-1,32KOs will soon have a life size statue of himself in a fighting pose exhibiting his fury and popular ready to knock you out style which will be erected in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts near the TD Garden. This is the same place where he fought a majority of his fights including defeating John Saxton to garner the 1955 welterweight title and his second fight with Hall of Famer, Carmen Basillo which was named the 1955 Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine and to this day is considered by many boxing experts as the best welterweight title fight of all time.
Article posted on 23.04.2012
The statute will be created by Harry Weber of Missouri who created statutes of two of other legendary Boston athletes, Bobby Orr and Doug Flutie.
“I was flabbergasted that they are making a statute of me,” said the 79 year old former orthodox pugilist, DeMarco. “I never expected it and I`m totally surprised this is happening but I am grateful and happy that they would honor me with a statute like the other great Boston legends.”
DeMarco captured the world welterweight title on April 1, 1955 at the old Boston Garden stopping Johnny Saxton with 2:20 left in the 14th round. He also had Saxton down in the fourth round.
“Defeating Saxton made my lifelong dream come true. Every child who ever has laced up their boxing gloves, dreams of winning a world champion and that was exactly what I did when I defeated Saxton,” said Demarco. “Saxton was a tough seasonal fighter and I took the fight to him from the opening bell and I really worked his body well. I was winning the whole fight and then in the 14th round, I staggered him with a right cross and he became helpless, his hands were by his side and I threw around 24 consecutive punches until referee, Mel Manning stopped the fight.”
He`s probably better remembered for his two 1955 classic world champion showdowns with Basilio which were toe to toe fan friendly slugfest in which Basilio won both world title fights by identical 12th round technical knockouts. DeMarco lost to Basilio on June 10, 1955 in Syracuse, New York when referee, Harry Kessler stopped the fight. This was a nonstop bout with both men throwing vicious hooks, both boxers were cut in the 1st round and DeMarco was down in the 8th round.
DeMarco then defeated Chico Vejar less than three months later with a knockout in the first round and fought Basilio again on November 30, 1955. DeMarco knocked Basillo down in the 7th round; however Basillo roared back and dominated the 9th round and knocked DeMarco down twice in the 12th round and then referee, Manning stopped the fight.
“Basilio was a great puncher and brawler. We had similar tactics, so for those fights it was like fighting in a phone booth with two extremely aggressive boxers. He was the most difficult fighters I ever faced in my career because he hit the hardest of any fighter out there. He was so powerful that he stunned me in the 12th round in both fights which caused both of those bouts to be stopped.”
DeMarco`s legacy reminds an integral part of Boston sports history, as he sold out the Boston Garden on many occasions, breaking attendance records, and the city of Boston name a street after him. He defeated several top welterweights of his era, 1948-1962, including Hall of Famer Kid Gavilan, Paddy DeMarco, Teddy Davis, Larry Boardman, Bud Smith, George Araujo, Vejar and Don Jordan. DeMarco fought in eight world title fights and got inducted into the Italian American Boxing Hall of Fame and the Veterans Boxing Association.
Despite his boxing success, he never got elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame which bothered DeMarco. “I should have been elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame because I fought for eight world titles, was an undisputed welterweight champion of the world in 1955 and fought two great wars with Basillo” said DeMarco. “I fought the best fighters of my era and won many of those bouts. Nevertheless, I`ve no regrets and I`m happy the way my career went.”
After defeating Strefan Redl in a 10 round unanimous decision on February 6, 1962 and being in the sport for 14 years and 71 bouts, DeMarco retired.
“I retired because I had an enough of the sport. It`s difficult to have the desire to train, run, and sacrifice year round. When you lose your disciple and desire to fight it is time to retire and that is what I did. I was 30 years old and married and I wanted to make money because boxing is not like it`s today, because you did not make a great of money back then,” said DeMarco. “After retirement, I did several salesmen jobs and opened a cocktail lounge in Phoenix, Arizona which became extremely successful.”
DeMarco born Leonardo Liotta published his memoirs, NARO Memoirs of a Boxing champion: Autobiography of an Undisputed Welterweight Champion which discusses his life, family, growing up and the up and downs of his boxing career. The book has gotten great reviews.
He`s available for personal appearances, speaking engagements and book signings. He currently lives in Boston, Massachusetts. For more information on DeMarco and to order a sign copy of his autobiography you can visit his website at tko.tony.com.
A special thanks to Tony DeMarco for taking time to allow me to interview him and to Bob Trieger for facilitating the interview.
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