Tony Morgano

Last updated
Tony Morgano
Weight(s)135 lb (61 kg)
Height5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Born(1913-08-19)August 19, 1913
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DiedFebruary 2, 1985(1985-02-02) (aged 71) [1]
Boxing record
WinsAt Least 55
Wins by KO25

Tony Morgano (August 19, 1913 – February 2, 1984) was a dynamic left-handed professional boxer fighting out of South Philadelphia in the 1930s. He defeated five world champions in non-title fights including Freddie Miller, Baby Arizmendi, Tommy Paul, Lew Feldman, and Johnny Jadick. After his retirement from professional boxing he worked as an iron worker, and later served as a GOP committeeman in the Ninth Division of the 26th Ward of Philadelphia. Throughout his life he tirelessly gave back to the community, training approximately 1,250 young boxers, providing for retired fighters, and working with various charitable organizations throughout Philadelphia.


Early years

Morgano was an Italian-American boxer, born and raised in Philadelphia on Montrose Street, to Paul and Concetta Morgano. Tony had four brothers - Robert, Paul, Sam, and Edward and two sisters - Anne and Grace. His father Paul was an immigrant painter who died when he was five. As a result of this Tony was forced to grow up rather quickly. He finished the third grade and having spent a lot of time watching fighters train at the Olympic gym at Broad and Bainbridge streets, he started his boxing career - at the age of 12.

Amateur career

Morgano went undefeated as an amateur defeating 22 fighters. He weighed 88 pounds at the age of twelve, when he fought and won the Middle Atlantic AAU flyweight title. Fighters were not allowed to weigh under 100 pounds by rule so he filled his shoes with lead and tipped the scales at 105 pounds. In the next three years he won 21 fights.

In order to help his mother support his family, after winning a bout, he would be awarded "a Walton watch, and somebody at ringside would buy it from you for $2 or $3 dollars . I'd sell the watch and take the money home to Mom for food. I was boxing every night. It helped out."

Professional career

Philadelphia, at this time, was a lightweight hotbed that included Cool, Massey, Willis, Tony Falco, Johnny Jadick, Tony Morgano, Georgie Gibbs, Young Firpo, and Benny Bass, that provided the city's boxing fans with an exciting local round-robin of cross-town rivalries and neighborhood feuds, as all of the above faced each other in hectic matches. Morgano finished his career with victories over both Cool, Gibbs, and Jadick.

Tony's professional career started almost by accident. A Camden promoter offered him $25 to be a stand-in against Pee Wee Ross, an experienced fighter. He took the fight on January 15, 1929, and in his own words "punch the stuffing out of Ross" He kept 5 dollars and gave 20 to his mother to help pay for food. Telegraphs revealed that much of his prize money in later fights would be sent back to his mother to help provide for his siblings. When it became known that he had fought for pay his amateur days were done. At 15, he found himself under contract to Max "Boo Boo" Hoff a local promoter. Prior to going with Hoff, Morgano was managed by Vincent "Jimmy" Barbieri (1907-2011), who at the age of 102 told stories of "his boy" Tony.

He boxed in the Philadelphia area until the age of 21, accumulating approximately 51 victories. He then teamed up with Frankie Caris, a middleweight, and traveled the nation boxing. They landed in California and Morgano became a star, entertaining and working with many Hollywood types. He rapidly defeated Georgie Hansford, Tommy Paul (ex featherweight champion) and Lew Feldman taking 9 out of 10 rounds on April 5, 1935. His only blemish during this stint came against Jimmy Christy which was considered an upset, they drew in a rematch.

During his time in California in 1935 he participated in musicals such as Golddiggers of Broadway with Dick Powell and Joan Blondell, a film with Mae West, and then another cowboy movie.

Upon his return to Philadelphia, in a period of four years he strung together at least 13 victories, with a loss to Billy Maher. It was well documented at the time that Morgano entered the bout with two broken ribs and a fractured ankle. Following this loss he defeated Tommy Speigal on September 27, 1940 for lightweight title however Morgano came in overweight and was not award the title as a result. Morgano retired in 1940 after a shattered hand.

Morgano finished his career with 55 victories, 11 defeats and at 25 kos. [2]

After Boxing

During World War II he worked as a welder at the old New York Shipyard in Camden. After the war he became an ironworker and worked on several major projects. He soon married a young woman by the name of Patrica and had three sons, Kevin, Tony and Michael.

He became active in Republican Party politics serving as a GOP committeeman in the Ninth Division of the 26th Ward and ran for City Council and for state legislature.

Morgano gave much back to the community of South Philadelphia, working in his spare time with young boxers at the Police Athletic League and the Southside Boys club. Ge trained some 1,250 boxers over 30 years. His Southside Boys club competed for and won on several occasions the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves tournament.

Morgano served as longtime president of the Veteran's Boxing Association, and worked hard to better the lives of many ex boxers. Often staging events to support them.

Professional Record

Below represents a partial list of Morgano's professional bouts. Due to the incomplete record keeping of the time the list is unfinished and will be updated as more information becomes available.

LossAldo SpoldiDecision06-19-1941Olympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinBuck StreatorDecision05-08-1941Olympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinTommy SpiegalUnanimous Decision09-26-1940Olympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USWas for title, Morgano would have been awarded had he not come in over weight
LossBilly Maher05-24-1940Metropolitan Opera House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USlost in 8th round, in a previous fight with Maher, Morgano lost in the 5th had Novocaine injections, had two broken ribs and fractured ankle from training
WinLew Feldman04-11-1940Olympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinJimmy Lancaster02-08-1940Olympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinLou Fortuna01-18-1940Olympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinJackie Sheppard12-25-1939Olympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
Two year layoff
WinJohnny Dube10-11-1937Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinSnag Trowbridge08-16-1937Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinYoung Raspi08-02-1937Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinAl DunbarTKO in 2nd07-19-1937Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinFreddie Cochrane06-28-1937Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinBruce Flowers03-13-1937Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USPaper noted that Morgano easily defeated Flowers
WinDave FinnDecision10-28-1936Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
LossLew Massey10-01-1936DecisionOlympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinJohnny Jadick01-16-1936DecisionOlympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USDefeated Former junior welterweight champion
LossJoey Ferrando12-25-1935DecisionCambria A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USMorgano later went on to say this was the toughest fight of his career
WinJackie Willis11-14-1935TKO 4th roundOlympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
DrawJohnny Craven10-04-1395Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
LossEddie Cool09-19-1935Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USAlso had a win and a draw against Cool Morgano told interviewers that Cool was the best fighter he ever competed against
LossHarry SerodyDecision09-11-1935Baker Bowl, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinLew FeldmanUnanimous Decision04-05-1935Legion Stadium, Hollywood, California, USMorgano won 9 out of 10 rounds
DrawJimmy Christy03-08-1935Legion Stadium, Hollywood, California, US
LossJimmy ChristyDecision02-08-1935Legion Stadium, Hollywood, California, US
WinTommy Paul12-28-1934Legion Stadium, Hollywood, California, USEx featherweight champion
WinGeorgie Hansford11-16-1934Legion Stadium, Hollywood, California, US
WinGeorgie Gibs1934Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USExact date unknown, victory mentioned in article in Philadelphia Inquirer
WinEddie Shea04-09-1934Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinVincent Reed02-22-1934Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinBobby Dean01-18-1934Broadway A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, IS
WinHarry BlitmanTKO11-03-1932Broadway A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinTony LoftusTKO10-06-1932Broadway A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USLoftus suffered a badly cut eye
LossJackie WillisTKO 7th round03-03-1932Broadway A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USMorgano suffered a badly cut right eye
WinMidget Fox02-08-1932Atlantic City, New Jersey, US
WinErnie CaesarTKO 3rd01-28-1932Broadway A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinJimmy Stewart11-26-1931Broadway A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinJimmy Donato11-16-1931Laurel Garden, Newark, New Jersey, US
WinTimmy MurphyKO in 52 seconds of 1st round10-12-1931Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
DrawLew Lafferty08-29-1931Atlantic City Auditorium, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US
WinGeorgia GoldbergTKO 7th08-14-1931Atlantic City Auditorium, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US
WinSteve SmithTKO 6th round06-29-1931Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinYoung Johnny BrownTKO 3rd05-11-1931Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinLew LaffertyDecision04-2-1931Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinJohnny EricksonTKO 3rd round04-13-1931Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinAl MasonKO 2nd03-30-1931Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinBilly BrittonTKO 4th round02-23-1931Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinGriffie KenbineTKO 2nd02-02-1931Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinSammy NoviaTKO 2nd01-12-1931Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinBilly KellyKO 2nd 2 minutes 17 seconds12-08-1930Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinMatty White11-24-1930Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinTommy Maroon10-02-1930Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinJimmy SavinoKO in 1st08-18-1930Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinEddie Cool04-25-1930Norristown, Pennsylvania, US
LossDanny TaubDecision04-03-1930Broadway A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinRay StingerKo in 2nd03-21-1930Norristown, Pennsylvania, US
WinJose Allano03-0-1930Auditorium, Norristown, Pennsylvania, US
WinAl CoulonKo 4th round02-21-1930Norristown, Pennsylvania, US
WinAl CoulonKo 2nd round01-31-1930Auditorium, Norristown, Pennsylvania, US
WinJack StanleyKo in 3rd round12-12-1929Broadway A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
LossBobby DechterDecision10-28-1929Atlantic City, New Jersey, US
WinSammy Penzi10-14-1929North Side Boxing Club, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US
WinJohnny BendonKo in 3rd09-23-1929North Side Boxing Club, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US
LossJimmy Dugan04-18-1929Broadway A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinKid McCalslandTKO04-04-1929Broadway A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinBilly RichardsKO in 1st03-13-1929Olympia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinDanny SheffskyKO in 1st02-28-1929New Broadway A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
WinHerb Lewis1929Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USExact Date unknown
DrawPee Wee Ross01-22-1929South Jersey A.A., Camden, New Jersey, USFirst fight as a pro

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  1. Date of Death Retrieved March 2011
  2. Tony Morgano Retrieved March 2011