Tommy Farr

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Tommy Farr
Real nameTommy Farr
Born(1913-03-12)12 March 1913
Clydach Vale, Rhondda, Wales
Died1 March 1986(1986-03-01) (aged 72)
Boxing record
Total fights137
Wins by KO24
No contests2

Thomas George Farr (12 March 1913 – 1 March 1986) was a Welsh boxer from Clydach Vale, Rhondda, nicknamed "the Tonypandy Terror". Prior to 1936, Farr boxed in the light heavyweight division, in which he was the Welsh champion. He became British and Empire heavyweight champion on 15 March 1937. He challenged for the world title against Joe Louis in the same year and gave Louis one of the toughest fights of his career, hurting him numerous times and lasting the full 15 rounds on his way to a wide unanimous decision loss, with the referee awarding Louis the fight thirteen rounds to one, while the judges scored the fight eight to five and nine to six, both in Louis's favour.[1] The decision was booed by spectators. Farr is considered to be one of the greatest British heavyweight fighters ever.[2] Farr was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

World title fight vs Joe Louis[edit]

On 30 August 1937, Farr fought world heavyweight champion Joe Louis at the height of his career at Yankee Stadium, New York City. He earned respect despite losing a controversial points decision after 15 rounds. Louis, one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, had knocked out eight of his previous nine opponents and proceeded to knock out his next seven, but was fearlessly attacked and hurt by Farr. The 50,000 crowd booed when Louis was awarded the decision[3][4][5] after referee Arthur Donovan, Sr. had seemingly raised Farr's glove in victory. Seven years later, in his published account of the fight, Donovan apologised for the 'mistake', claiming he had only meant to shake Farr's hand to congratulate him for what he saw as an impressive and courageous fight.[6] "Mistakes" hardly ended there, however. Donovan's own scorecard, had 13 rounds going to Louis. Though mixed accounts in main tell us Louis deserved the nod, 13 frames out of 15 prompted these words from a British sportswriter: "The verdict is that of a man either blindly partisan or afflicted with astigmatism. It is a verdict that justifies the beliefs that nothing short of the annihilation of Louis would have given Farr victory. That Louis won may not be disputed, but as I read the fight, there was only a fractional difference in his favour at the finish."[7] However in Donovan's account of the bout he stands by his scoring of the fight, claiming that while Farr's punches may have appeared to have done more damage than Louis's from the crowd's point of view, from his perspective and that of the ringside judges the opposite was true. [6]

Contrary views of the fight's result continued for many years. In The Encyclopedia of Boxing, as compiled by Gilbert Odd in the 1980s, Tommy's listing concludes its thumbnail on the championship bout with "...Louis came back strongly and clinched a narrow points verdict."[8] The actual ferocity of the battle and its level of competition, seldom contested, may be summed up by Tommy Farr, later on in life: "When I talk about that fight, my nose still bleeds."[9]

Later career[edit]

After the Louis fight, Farr was unsuccessful in several contests at Madison Square Garden, New York. These included a ten-round fight on 21 January 1938, against former heavyweight champion James J. Braddock, "the Cinderella Man".[10][11] Farr returned to the UK early in 1939, enjoying a run of victories that year. He retired in 1940, but personal tragedies saw him lose his fortune and he ended up bankrupt, having to return to the ring at the age of 36 to make a living. Farr later ran a pub in Brighton, Sussex in final retirement, and died on St. David's Day, 1986, aged 72.

Musical Contender[edit]

A musical based on Farr's career, Contender, was composed by Mal Pope and premiered at the United Nations building in New York, followed by a season at Swansea's Grand Theatre.[12] A theme of the musical is that Farr's lack of success in the USA resulted wholly from his refusal to co-operate with fight-fixing mobsters and bookmakers.

Notable bouts[edit]

Result Opponent Type Rd., Time Date Location Notes[13]
Loss United Kingdom Don Cockell TKO 7 (12) 1953-03-09 United Kingdom Ice Rink, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
Loss United States Lloyd Marshall PTS 10 1950-12-04 United Kingdom Market Hall, Carmarthen
Win Canada Larry Gains TKO 6 (10) 1939-05-17 United Kingdom Ninian Park, Cardiff
Win United States Red Burman PTS 10 1939-04-13 United Kingdom Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Loss United States Red Burman PTS 10 1939-01-13 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Loss United States Lou Nova PTS 15 1938-12-16 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Loss United States Max Baer UD 15 1938-03-11 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Loss United States James J. Braddock SD 10 1938-01-21 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Loss United States Joe Louis UD 15 1937-08-30 United States Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York For World Heavyweight Title.
1937 Fight of the Year by The Ring Magazine.
Win Nazi Germany Walter Neusel KO 3 (12) 1937-06-15 United Kingdom Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win United States Max Baer PTS 12 1937-04-15 United Kingdom Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win South Africa Ben Foord PTS 15 1937-03-15 United Kingdom Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win United States Bob Olin PTS 10 1936-04-02 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London
Win United States Tommy Loughran PTS 10 1936-01-15 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London
Win United Kingdom Frank Moody KO 4 (12) 1935-12-21 United Kingdom Greyfriars Hall, Cardiff
Draw United Kingdom Frank Moody PTS 15 1935-08-14 United Kingdom White City, Cardiff
Win Canada Del Fontaine PTS 12 1934-09-03 United Kingdom Mannesmann Hall, Swansea


  1. ^ "Joe Louis v Tommy Farr". BoxRec. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Boxing legend Sir Henry Cooper dies aged 76". BBC Sport. 1 May 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  3. ^ Crowd Yells Fury as Louis Gets the Verdict Daily News (Perth, Western Australia), 31 August 1937, at Trove
  4. ^ "After collecting the judges' votes, referee Arthur Donovan announced that Louis had won the fight on points. The crowd of 50,000 . . . amazed that Farr had not been knocked out or even knocked down, booed the decision. . . Speaking over the radio after the fight, Louis admitted that he had been hurt twice." Sport: Louis v Farr Time Magazine, 6 Sept 1937. (Paid subscription required)
  5. ^ An authentic radio commentary on the fight's end is included in Mal Pope's soundtrack of The Main Event, from his musical Contender, highlighting the belief of commentator and audience that Farr was the real winner.
  6. ^ a b Donovan's Worst Mistake As a Referee The Mail, Adelaide, at Trove digitised newspapers, National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ Farr, Tommy (1989). Thus Farr (Optomen Press HB ed.). London, England: W H Allen & Co Pic. p. 92. ISBN 1-85227-017-9.
  8. ^ Odd, Gilbert (1983, 1989). The Encyclopedia of Boxing. Secaucus, NJ: Chartwell Books, Inc. p. 46. ISBN 1-55521-395-2. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ Liebman, Glenn (1996). Boxing Shorts. Chicago, IL: Contemporary Books, Inc. p. 126. ISBN 0-8092-3216-2.
  10. ^ James J. Braddock official site
  11. ^ An abridged video of the 21 January 1938, fight at Madison Square Garden on YouTube
  12. ^ Boxing musical given UN audience BBC News, Wales, 26 Feb 2007
  13. ^ Tommy Farr's Professional Boxing Record. Retrieved on 2014-05-18.


External links[edit]