Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Joe Louis vs Tony “Two Ton” Galento 1939

Joe Louis vs Tony “Two Ton” Galento
World Heavyweight Championship
Yankee Stadium, New York, June 28, 1939
16mm Sound, Theatrical Release

The Fight
The more I learn about Tony Galento, the more I like him, though I still wouldn’t have rooted for him.  He was one of the roughest, meanest boxers ever, who made the most of his tools, which included a tank-like physique, an iron chin, a clubbing left hook and general contempt for his opponents.  He was one of the most colorful boxers of any era, who understood that humor mixed with attitude sells tickets.  Galento’s boxing record is mixed, but after a string of knockouts, Tony was signed to fight champion Joe Louis in 1939.  Few gave the New Jersey bar owner a “f’n” chance.  But Galento roared into Louis in the first round, and took it to the champ for the following three.  In the third round, Galento caught Louis with a left hook, and partly off balance, Louis went down for a one count.  By the Fourth round Louis had learned to punch inside Galento’s left hook, and at point blank range, the Brown Bomber cut Tony to pieces.

The Film
The film of this fight has been circulated and shown on TV for years, but most often as a 10 minute highlight.  This edition of the film is the complete theatrical version that was shown movie theatres in 1939, which includes all four rounds, as well as pre and post fight, plus interviews.  Before acquiring this 16mm print, I had never seen the prefight instructions, which includes Tony’s complaints about Louis’s hair not being wiped down.  Showing no respect, Galento runs his glove across Louis’s head.  Louis’s trainer, Joe Blackburn responds by reaching over to wipe Galento’s head in retaliation.  If Louis was intimidated, he didn’t show it.

The Restoration
Most prints of this fight film are poor, stark and overexposed.  The 16mm print I have is above average in quality. Sections appear well photographed, while others are bright or very dark.  This is not the entire film, but I have included the rarely seen portions.

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