|This story would not be complete without mention of
Billy's trainer and manager. Art Thomas was the only man to ever
have 5 of his boys boxing in Yankee Stadium representing America against
a European team. He was also the only trainer to have 5 of his
boys boxing on an American team against a South American team.
These were not his only "firsts" for he was also the only man
to serve as coach to the New York Golden Gloves team who was not a
resident of New York.
Art Thomas piloted Billy's career from the day he first put on his
gloves until they day he "hung them up". He passed away in
1963 at the age of 74.
Art Thomas, Successful Boxing Manager, Never Fought Himself
Has Developed Two Golden Glove Champions in Three Years Here and One of Them, Bill Speary, Is Best in World at 112 and 118 Pounds
He is regarded as a successful fight manager, but Art Thomas, Nanticoke resident and head coach of the New York Golden gloves team has not boxed a round in his life. Born in the old country 43 years ago, Thomas came to Nanticoke a little over three years ago. He resides on Railroad Street.
"A bloody little kid knocked my teeth out in a neighborhood fight when I was only
a little fellow," Thomas explains. "Since that time, I never cared about fighting myself."
Although the Railroad Street resident does not like fighting for himself, he
recommends it as a body-builder for others. His early interest in boxing exhibitions drew him to the fight game. Before becoming a
manager, he received advice in training and as a conditioner from Dy Dollins of New York, who was known in Europe as Dy Jones-one of the best conditioners and trainers America has ever known.
Dollins trained Fitzsimmons, Jeffries, Corbett, Jack Johnson, Firpo, Kid Chocolate, Jack Dempsey and other men who advanced to the top of the fistic world.
Thomas, the only non-resident of New York ever to go to the metropolis as coach of the Golden Glovers, returned with two Golden Glove
winners- Bill Speary and Joe Kelly. Both also won national titles. When Coach Thomas recently took Speary to Boston where he won the bantamweight championship, it was the first time in ten years that an amateur champ won two years running. Billy held
the A.A.U. flyweight title the previous year.
The local man started his career as fight manager in Scranton. A young chap by the name Pete Suskey, then 15, drew his eye. He relates that Suskey never fought a fake fight in his life and that his record was one achievement after another. Suskey fought the best welterweights in the world. He knocked out Joe Dundee in three rounds for his best showing. The latter is the man who took the world's welterweight title from Pete
When Thomas first came to Nanticoke, he resided with a brother-in-law in the Challenger building, East Main Street. It was
while there that he decided to revive interest in the fight game and endeavor to bring prominence to some youngsters in town who showed interest in the ring. That he did this is unquestionably correct.
Billy Comes Back
The defeat handed Bill Speary by the Italian fighter, is believed by Thomas to have inspired him to greater heights. Shortly after the international contest, Speary was on the United States boxing team which competed against South America. He won his three bouts and showed greater skill than ever. He also began to slightly changed his style and became an amateur fighter who had difficulty in securing matches with boys his own weight.
Thomas gets pleasure from training young boys for the ring, but this hobby is second to another. His big interest is in pigeons.
In the Thomas coop, on Railroad Street, are 85 of the best homing pigeons in Nanticoke. Some are prize winners and others have participated in national competitions. Anyone who wants to see Art Thomas when he's not on the road,
can find him in the shanty adjacent to the Susquehanna colliery fan house. He spends many hours each day with the birds.
Races for old birds are practically finished and Thomas is getting ready for the new ones. He expects big things from a number of young carriers. They won't be in the Golden Gloves Tournament, but they'll get stiff competition nonetheless.
Next week-What happens to an amateur when he fights the best boys in his class, wins the national championship and then returns home?
Are bouts easy to secure or do matchmakers have difficulty in arranging the card? How about the charges that Golden Glovers have been fighting five and six times a week and have been overworked? Another interesting narrative about Speary and Thomas will appear in the next issue.
Art Thomas, of Nanticoke, who handles the Nanticoke fighters in the Golden Gloves boxing tournament, has been appointed coach of the New York Golden Gloves amateur boxers for their intersectional battles with the Chicago Golden Gloves team. Thomas will receive $500 a month for three months.
It was the fine showing of Billy Speary, national A.A.U. 112-pound open class champion and one of Thomas'
protégés, that resulted in his appointment.
Speary is the only boy to win two years in succession in the Philadelphia Golden Gloves tournament and if he goes through the finals of the New York tournament this week he will also be the first fighter to capture the title in the metropolis two successive years.
The Nanticoke boy, who is only 19 years old, has been fighting a little more than a year, but when he entered the Philadelphia tourney last year he was immediately entered in the open division, which is comprised of experience boxers. The sub-novice class is for boys who are just breaking into the game.