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 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.
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.