Speary May Fight Donato in
"Battle of the Century"
By Stan Baumgartner (Philadelphia Inquirer 1939)
READY FOR INQUIRER FINALS
Pa., boxer, winner of the Middle Atlantic A.A.U. 118-pound Open
Championship, who boxes in The Inquirer AA Diamond Belt Championship
wears Crusaders' colors in the Inquirer AA Diamond Belt finals today
at the Arena. He is a 118-pound battler and inspires to lift
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!
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
"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
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.