Monday, February 11, 2013

Tony Galento -vs- Lou Nova 9/15/39

Tony “Two-Ton” Galento -vs- Lou Nova
Municipal Stadium, Philadelphia
September 15, 1939
Restored NBC Radio Broadcast
1 Hour 10 Minutes

Two years into Joe Louis reign as heavyweight Champion in 1939, there were a series of title elimination fights among the top contenders including Max Baer, Tony Galento and Lou Nova.  The Baer-Nova and Baer-Galento fights survive on film, but Tony Galento’s upset against Lou Nova has not been shown in public since the 1940s.  Nova was the rising star of the division, and having defeated Baer several months earlier, Nova was expected to beat Galento for a title shot at Louis.

The Fight

Recently described in an excellent article by Clarence George on, The Galento-Nova fight quickly became a streetfight, with fouling, wrestling and the two fighters tumbling together to the canvas several times during the fight.  Galento thumbed Nova early in the fight and in addition to suffering an eye cut, Nova never gained the upper hand.  Ring Magazine described the fight as “discraceful”, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t exciting.

The Broadcast

A representative at ESPN told me that a film clip of the fight survives, but the footage remains elusive.   However, several years ago I purchased a number of old radio broadcast tapes, and when I looked through them recently I discovered this recording of the Galento-Nova fight.  The NBC live broadcast is hosted by Bill Stern, and runs over an hour, including prefight ring intros, trash talk during the refs instructions, and the 14 round blow by blow fight call by Ben Taub. An elated Galento and disappointed Nova are briefly interviewed in the postfight.  The controversy over the fight apparently came in the newspaper reports later.  The radio call made by Stern and Taub is exciting to hear, but they raise no questions about the action itself.

The Restoration

The tape cuts in several spots, but no more than a minute appears to be missing.  The broadcast is otherwise complete.  The audio suffered from generation loss, hiss and lack of low end.  I transferred the analog tape to a digital file.  With several editing tools I was able to bring some clarity back to the sound and reduce the noise level.  It was a pleasure bringing this fight brought back to life.

I have added period images and several photos of the fight for the video portion.  Otherwise, grab a beer, turn the lights down and enjoy the fight!