Speary May Fight Donato in "Battle of the Century"


By Stan Baumgartner (Philadelphia Inquirer 1939)




Tamaqua, Pa., boxer, winner of the Middle Atlantic A.A.U. 118-pound Open Championship, who boxes in The Inquirer AA Diamond Belt Championship finals.



Who wears Crusaders' colors in the Inquirer AA Diamond Belt finals today at the Arena. He is a 118-pound battler and inspires to lift that title.

Amateur fight fans have already dubbed it "The Battle of the Century"-the bout between Bill Speary, of Nanticoke and Frank Donato, of Crusader A. C., for the 118-pound Inquirer Diamond Belt Championship at the Arena next Monday night.

The fact that Speary a and Donato have still one opponent each to brush aside in the early part of the night, before they qualify, seems to make no difference in the calculations of the fans.

They're sure that Speary and Donato will meet for the title-and they're positive that when they do it will be one of the greatest fights this city has ever seen-one that will even overshadowed the great Rudy Neimic-John Rivers duel last Monday.

Speary, for three years the national A.A.U. champion in the 112-pound class, has been forced, because of increased weight, to move out into the 118-pound division. Donato has also moved from the "112's" to the "118's," and is a mighty southpaw who packs a knockout punch in each swing of his hand.

The boys met once before and Donato won by a technical knockout--but it was scored when Speary received a cut eye. Since then, Art Thomas, manager of Speary, and Bill himself, have talked of nothing else but a return bout.

Now they will fight for a championship!

Frail Youngster

Both have unusual careers in the fight game. As a frail, tiny youngster, who weighed less than 100 pounds, Speary went to Art Thomas and begged to be allowed to hang around the gym, "just to be near some strong guys."

Thomas took one look at the kid and shuddered. "Look to me like he had T.B.," said Thomas. "But I allowed him to work out. Next thing I knew he was water boy at the fights. Then one night we went to Tamaqua and they had another kid over there about Speary size who wanted to fight. Bill heard about it and begged for a try. I said NO, and so did the doctor. But he begged so hard, we finally let him go."

"The other amateur hit him on the button in the first round and he hit the deck like a squashed tomato, but he laughed while he sat on the floor and then got up to knock the other fellow out. That was the start and he has been knocking them out ever since."

Clerk to Fighter

Donato was a scholarly looking clerk in a chain grocery store-apparently content to work his way up to a store manager some distant day. Then he got "fed up" with it all one day and said to himself, "I'm going to be a fighter."

They laughed at him when he first came to the gym. Whoever heard of a guy with "specs" ever being a fighter and a southpaw at that?

But Frank said nothing, when about his business and it wasn't long before everyone in the gym knew Frank Donato. That was three years ago. His path up the ladder wasn't a bed of roses. A year ago he ran into Johnny Forte in the Philadelphia finals, fighting at 112 pounds, and was rocked to sleep with a right hook. Later he lost a decision to Pat Celli in his next bid-but no one doubts his ability now. He has learned fast. When he hits-well, have you ever been hit in the face with a hammer?

Maybe someone will upset the applecart and Donato will not meet Speary in the 118-pound final, but, if they do face each other, don't missed the fireworks.

For that matter, it does not pay to miss any of the 20 bouts that will be staged at the Arena next Monday night. The list of struggles reads like 20 headliners in 20 shows. With a night, with such men as John Rivers, Johnny Cart, Tom Steffanelli, Gene Pinter, Ed Wilson, Jordan Beamon, Larry Torpey, Johnny Forte, and a host of others swinging fists.

Tickets are now on said the Inquirer, the Arena, Wanamaker's, Gimbels, Passon's, D'Orazio's, Taylor's Drug Store, William Charles and the Twin City Sports Club, of Camden. The prices are 57 cents, $1.14 and $1.71 and every seat is reserved.


Please use your browsers BACK button to return to the previous page.




Email to:  william -at-  speary.com

Sorry, but due to the large volume of junk email we have had to take the email links out.  Please copy the address line above, paste it in to your email & change the -at- to @