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Galento in November, 1938
|Real name||Dominick Anthony Galento|
|Nickname(s)||Two Ton Tony|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Reach||175 cm (69 in)|
March 12, 1910|
Orange, New Jersey, United States
|Died||July 22, 1979
Orange, New Jersey, United States
|Wins by KO||57|
Domenico Antonio Galento (March 12, 1910 – July 22, 1979) was an American heavyweight boxer. Nicknamed "Two Ton" for his reasoning to his manager for being nearly late to one of his fights: "I had two tons of ice to deliver on my way here". Galento was one of the most colorful fighters in the history of the sport. He wrestled an octopus, and boxed a kangaroo as publicity stunts for his fights. He also boxed a 550 lb. (250 kg) bear, as a stage attraction.
Galento was a "no holds barred" brawler, with a wicked left hook, who never let such niceties as the ring rules, or sportsmanship, interfere with his goal to knock out the other fighter. During his prime years as a boxer, Galento owned and operated a bar named "The Nut Club" in Orange, New Jersey. He was reputed to do his roadwork (training) after he closed the bar at 2:00 a.m.. When asked why he trained at night, Galento replied, "Cuz I fight at night." Galento was also known to refrain from showering to encourage body odor in a strategy to distract his opponent. Max Baer commented "He smelled of rotten tuna and a tub of old liquor being sweated out".
Galento, who claimed to be 5'9 (177 cm) tall, liked to weigh in at about 235 lb (107 kg) for his matches. He achieved this level of fitness by eating whatever, whenever he wanted. A typical meal for Galento consisted of six chickens, a side of spaghetti, all washed down with a half gallon of red wine, or beer, or both at one sitting. When he did go to training camp, he foiled his trainer's attempts to modify his diet, and terrorized his sparring partners by eating their meals in addition to his.
He was reputed to train on beer, and allegedly ate 52 hot dogs on a bet before facing heavyweight Arthur DeKuh. Galento was supposedly so bloated before the fight that the waist line of his trunks had to be slit for him to fit into them. Galento claimed that he was sluggish from the effects of eating all those hot dogs, and that he could not move for three rounds. Nevertheless, Galento knocked out the 6'3" (192 cm) DeKuh with one punch, a left hook, in the fourth round.
On 28 June 1939 Galento fought for the heavyweight championship of the world against the redoubtable all time great heavyweight champion, Joe Louis. At this time Louis was heavily favored (8 to 1) to stop Galento. Galento was not impressed. In a pre-fight interview, Galento summed up his perspective on the fight as follows:
- Reporter: "Tony, what do you think your chances are against Joe Louis?"
- Galento: "Joe who?"
- Reporter: "Joe Louis."
- Galento: "I never hoid of da bum."
He also predicted that he would "moida da bum", and would telephone Louis to personally inform him that he was a bum and that Galento would "moida him"—this colorful version of early tubthumping, seems in retrospect, to be Galento's standard manner of presentation (LOOK Magazine, March 14, 1939; Vol. 3, No. 6). To show that he was serious and properly prepared for the Louis fight, Galento stated that he had not taken alcohol for two days before the bout.
The two fought in Yankee Stadium in New York. The short, balding Galento stunned the crowd, and his opponent, by staggering and hurting Louis with a powerful left hook in the first round. In the second round, Louis began hitting Galento with vicious combinations, opened a cut in Galento's mouth and floored the challenger with a powerful left hook that actually lifted Galento off his feet. This was the first time Galento had ever been knocked down in his professional career. In the third round, Louis was again hitting Galento with combinations when Galento caught him with a wild left hook. This time Louis went down. Louis, however, got up quickly, but took no chances for the remainder of the round. The fourth round was brutal for Galento, who really had no defense and was wide open for Louis' assault. Louis hit him with murderous combinations which forced the referee to finally stop the bout. After the fight, Galento blamed his corner for the loss. He contended that his trainers convinced him to change his style, and fight cleanly. Galento always regretted that he did not fight "his" fight and foul Louis.
Joe Louis and Tony Galento appeared together on The Way It Was, a sports nostalgia program (PBS), on January 29, 1976. The episode was lively, due almost exclusively to Galento's still-direct and colorful style of engagement. Louis showed a surprising side of himself when, after fending off a question by veteran fight commentator Don Dunphy, re: any ill feeling vs. Max Schmeling (Louis defending that he and Schmeling had not truly been adversaries but indeed "good friends"), he then pointed at Galento and stated, "But that little fellow...he really got me mad. All those mean things he said about me while training for our fight. He got me mad, all right." Louis furthered this statement by revealing that his anger by fight time was such that he had decided to "carry" Galento, i.e. to drag the fight out in order to "punish him for those nasty things". After suffering the knockdown, however, Louis changed his mind: "[Galento] hit too hard. So I knocked him out as quickly as I could."
Galento's other two famous fights were with former champion Max Baer, and contender Lou Nova. The Nova fight is reputed to be one of the dirtiest and bloodiest fights ever fought. Nova was knocked down five times. Both fighters kneed, gouged, hit below the belt, and on at least two knockdowns, Galento "fell" with his 230 lb (104 kg) on Nova, knees first. Galento finally knocked Nova out in the 14th round.
Galento's fight with Max Baer ended when the referee stopped the bout in the eighth round. On the day of the Baer fight, Galento decided to first stop off at his bar. There he had a big bowl of spaghetti, with meat balls, washed down with half a case of beer. After his meal, Galento became embroiled in an argument with his brother. The dispute ended when his brother threw his beer glass in Galento's face, severely cutting his lip. Galento was forced to get the cut stitched up, hours before the fight. Baer re-opened the cut in the first round, forcing Galento to swallow blood for the remainder of the fight. After the fight, Galento blamed his inability to "hook him around the head and butt him" for the loss. His record was 80-26-5 with 57 knockouts.
Less known, possibly with good reason, is Galento's battle with Ernie Schaaf in 1932 (Newark). Schaaf was at the time ranked No. 3 by Ring Magazine, and the fight was considered a stepping stone to a title fight with then-champion Jack Sharkey. The fight seemed jinxed from the first, however, and was rained out three times before finally taking place. The fight went the scheduled 10-round distance, but was a seesaw affair, rife with brutal infighting and containing many illegal blows. Two-Ton Tony repeatedly struck Schaaf behind the neck with right hand chops ('rabbit punches'). Schaaf, who recovered quickly, was stronger at the end and won the decision, but did not leave his dressing room table for long hours, while Galento merely collected his purse and went home. Schaaf's career spiraled down in the months following, culminating in a harrowing beating from Max Baer, followed by his death from light blows early in his final fight, vs. Primo Carnera. Fight lore has long held Max Baer's devastating right hand responsible for the ring death of Ernie Schaaf, but in the hardline culture of the 1930s, Newark sportswriters were quick to claim Tony Galento and the above battle-royal as having done the telling damage.
Galento retired from boxing in 1943, and applied his talents to the world of professional wrestling. He also turned to acting, and was given roles in Wind Across The Everglades (1958), The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956), Guys and Dolls (1955) and On the Waterfront (1954). He retained a kind of "folk hero" status, and was profiled several times, once by W.C. Heinz in TRUE Magazine (AUGUST, 1960; VOL. 41, NO. 279).
The entertainer Jackie Gleason used to tell this story from his stand-up comedy days. It seems he was playing a joint in Newark, N.J., called the Miami Club, where he was being unmercifully heckled by a fat, cigar-smoking, beer guzzling, middle aged, bald man. Finally, Gleason had had enough. He invited the obnoxious patron to step outside. Gleason swore he never saw anyone rise from his seat so fast. The two went out into the street and Gleason next remembered coming to on the floor of the club's cellar, next to the furnace, with a doctor looking down at him. Gleason had two questions: "What happened?", and "Who was that guy?". What happened was, he was knocked out cold, and the guy that did it was Tony Galento, who at the time had retired from boxing. (This anecdote can, at minimum, be corroborated as having been related to host Rocky Marciano on Marciano's fight HL show, "The Main Event", ca. 1960, as well to Morley Safer of 60 Minutes, in a segment on Gleason in the final years of his life.)
- McLemore, Henry (March 14, 1939). "Beer Barrel Buddha". LOOK 3 (6).
- Dunphy, Don (1988). Don Dunphy At Ringside. New York: Henry Holt And Company. pp. 289 (includes Index). ISBN 0-8050-0530-7.
- Donovan, Joseph (1939). Galento the Great. New York: George Winn. pp. 118 (plus ring record).
- Heinz, W.C. (August 1960). "The Curious Career of the Primeval Pugilist". TRUE 41 (279).
- Tony "Two-Ton" Galento, Find A Grave. Accessed August 23, 2007.
Joseph G. Donovan, "Galento the Great" (1939; George Winn, New York Hardcover)
- Professional boxing record for Tony Galento from BoxRec
- Article on Galento's unique style
- Tony Galento at the Internet Movie Database