Sunday, March 22, 2015

Book Review: Two Ton: One Night, One Fight -Tony Galento v. Joe Louis

The Sunday Book Review by Peter Silkov
 "Two Ton: One Night, One Fight -Tony Galento v. Joe Louis" Written by by Joseph Monninger


Joe Louis and Tony Galento weigh in.
On June 28, 1939, Joe Louis defended his World heavyweight championship against Tony Galento, in what would prove to be one of the legendary ‘Brown Bombers” most famous battles. 

Tony Galento was one of  Louis‘s more outlandish challengers. Standing only 5’ feet 8” inches tall, and weighing usually something between 225 to 245 pounds, Galento was a full blown ‘character‘ who trained on beer, had a constant cigar gripped between his thick lips, and owned and ran his own bar in Orange, New Jersey.  Perhaps the most outlandish thing about Galento was that, despite his unconventional lifestyle and training habits, he really could fight. He was a natural, savage brawler, with a heart as huge as his belly and a punch to match. Galento was the kind of fighter who during the days of bare knuckle fighting could have been world champion. 

Galento ready to take Louis on.
Louis was already at the halfway point of becoming a legend when he defended his title against the barrelesque Galento and few gave the challenger much of a chance of defeating "The Brown Bomber."  However, on the night,  the fight proved to be a thriller and sensation, for the 4 rounds that it lasted. Galento lived up to his pre-flight boasts of doing the best he could to ‘Moider dat bum’; hurling his wide frame forward again and again, even as Louis’s slashing fists began to make a bloody mess of Tony’s pudgy face.  However, more than that, Galento’s wide yet powerful punches actually rocked Louis in the 1st round, and then dropped him in the 3rd.

Galento knocks Louis down in the 3rd.
For a couple of seconds in the 3rd round, it seemed that Tony Galento was on the threshold of pulling off one of the biggest upsets in the history of boxing, indeed in the sport itself.
“Two Ton: One Night, One Fight -Tony Galento v. Joe Louis” by Joseph Monninger is a riveting portrait of that night of June 28, 1939, when, for a few precious seconds, enthralled the thousands watching the world championship contest in person, plus the millions listening via radio. For those few precious seconds, Galento had the world at his feet, and the most coveted prize in all sports within his hands.

It was a night when a fighter with the nickname of “Two Ton,” who actually looked like he weighed two tons, came close to becoming Heavyweight champion of the world. 

Then Joe Louis got up. 

Referree helps Galento up.
First published in 2006, “Two Ton: One Night, One Fight -Tony Galento v. Joe Louis” gives us a marvellous portrait, not only of both boxers that swapped leather that night for the world heavyweight crown, but also of the people around them. We are given an at times mesmerizing glimpse of the world of 1939, a world where radio still ruled the airwaves, and boxing ruled the sports world.  Monninger’s narrative is stylishly sparse and to the point. He says a lot in paragraphs that are short, but flowing, hitting the target like a Joe Louis combination.


First published in 2006, “Two Ton: One Night, One Fight -Tony Galento v. Joe Louis” gives us a marvelous portrait, not only of both boxers that swapped leather that night for the world heavyweight crown, but also of the people around them. We are given an at times mesmerizing glimpse of the world of 1939, a world where radio still ruled the airwaves, and boxing ruled the sports world.  Monninger’s narrative is stylishly sparse and to the point. He says a lot in paragraphs that are short, but flowing, hitting the target like a Joe Louis combination.



Tony Galento after his fight with Joe Louis
Yet, it is Tony “Two Ton” Galento who is the real hero of this book, not Louis. In this book, we see Galento in all his beer sodden, blood splattered, wise cracking, glory.  It is hard to think of a more comprehensive and insightful portrait of the New Jersey brawler. These 208 pages, which include a nice selection of photographs, do a wonderful job of showing us why this fight thrilled so many at the time, and reached the status of one of the truly legendary battles to have been fought for the World heavyweight title. We also see why Galento was such a favourite with the public and the press alike, and how even in savage defeat, his performance against Louis consolidated his legacy.

Joe Louis reads the headlines after his victory over Tony Galento.

“Two Ton: One Night, One Fight -Tony Galento v. Joe Louis” is a book that, despite its relatively slim nature, manages to reveal a vast amount of information, about both of its two combatants, but also about the time in which both men lived and fought, and when boxing was the most important sport in the world, with the power to transcend all barriers.

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to 

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