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of Freeland, Pa.
Boxing in Freeland
What's on this page:
Photos of several Freeland area boxers
This undated article from an unknown source about 1930s boxer Johnny Graycar was scanned at the Freeland Y. As described in the article, Johnny Graycar relocated from Freeland to Cleveland, Ohio where he trained at Johnny Dennison's Athletic Club. From 1932-1939 he fought in 67 fights of which he won 56, 35 of them knockouts. Photo courtesy of Tom Landers, Joe Flanagan, and the Freeland Historical Society.
This photo of boxer Joe Dinofrio was scanned at the Freeland Y. I have no date or other information. If you know anything about him and his boxing that you would be willing to share, please let me know. Photo courtesy of Tom Landers, Joe Flanagan, and the Freeland Historical Society.
This photo of boxer Joe Beitel was also scanned at the Freeland Y, and at least there was a date on the photo, 1944. I'd like to post additional information about him here if anyone has any. Photo courtesy of Tom Landers, Joe Flanagan, and the Freeland Historical Society.
From Eddie Barna: I forgot to send this info a long time ago. Bob Provizzi made it pretty big in the boxing world in the 50's. I watched him fight on TV against Sugar Ray Robinson in 1956. He went to school with my brother John and I used to run into him a lot when they were in high school. After that Sugar Ray fight, I saw him, with all the wounds to his face, when he came in the poolroom a few days later. [This schedule] shows all the fights he had.
Boxing matches in Freeland in the 1930s
Most of what’s on this page comes from Ed Merrick’s research, in which he found 26 newspaper articles dated 1930-1936 about the Strand and about boxing in Freeland being moved to the Strand from the Public Park. Included below are excerpts from some of these articles.
In October 1933, a boxing match was set to take place in the Strand, with Johnny Graycar of Eckley and Johnny Tillman of Hazleton topping the card.
Apparently boxing matches took place both at the Strand and the Public Park pavilion off and on in the 1930s. Movies were also being shown at the Strand during this period. In October 1935, the Tigers Athletic Club announced that from then on the amateur boxing matches under their auspices would be held at the Strand, rather than the Public Park pavilion. Yet in May 1936 the Tigers sponsored another big match at the Public Park. That may have been because the Strand was about to close and would soon reopen as the new Rialto.
October 18, 1935
Kiddish-Zeleznock Clash Tops Freeland Fight Card Tonight
Old Rivalry Will Flourish Forth In Tigers Show – Difeo, Morgan, Browa, Powell, Kelly, and Lloyd Fact Allentown Battlers – Bouts At Strand Theatre
A “night of fight”, 10 bouts at the Strand. Joe Kiddish, clean cut Drifton sharpshooter vs. Johnnie Zeleznock, smart Beaver Meadow battler. To continue the night, Promoter Campbell and Chairman John Ammon have secured a fine array of talent. Dick Powell, Nanticoke vs. Ross Fatzinger, Allentown. Al Brown, the Freeland favorite who hails from Nanticoke vs. Tony Falco, newsby champion lightweight, Allentown. Joe Kelly, Nanticoke vs. Artie Fishel, Allentown. Frankie Marsh, Allentown vs. the best boy in his weight. Patsy Difeo, Freeland vs. a featherweight from Allentown. Fritz Morgan, Weatherly lightweight vs. an Allentown fighter; ditto Charlie Lloyd, Freeland sensation. Leroy Ponzi, Hazleton vs. Charlie Naus, Bloomsburg. Charley Lavatto, Swoyerville vs. Sal Nocchi, Freeland. George Marinko, Swoyerville vs. Frankie Marsh, Allentown.
November 13, 1935
Defeo Meets Up With Ponzi
Freeland Tigers staging a second series of bouts of current tournament at the Strand. Featured: Leroy Ponzi, Hazleton and Patsy Defeo, the Italian “Machine Gun” of Freeland fighting for the featherweight title. On the same night: Johnny Ross, Hazleton vs. Charley Naus, Bloomsburg; Fritz Morgan, Weatherly vs. Val Vesta; Frankie Maddon, Hazleton vs. Eddie Solenski, Harleigh. Also Lloyd, Kiddish and Sohorsky, opponents to be announced.
December 13, 1935
Under Card Also Full Of Action
Well-balanced Program of Boxing Scheduled For Strand Theatre in Freeland Tonight
Eli Wesley, negro middleweight from Philadelphia vs. Joe Caspar from Parsons lead the night at this benefit show for the Citizens Hose Company of Freeland, sponsored by the Freeland Tigers A. A. Under bill topped by Joe Kiddish, clever Drifton lad vs. Stanley Perock, newcomer from Middleport. Johnny Ross, Hazleton vs. Charlie Ross, Bloomsburg – Ross won last time, and Naus asked for a return match. Also, two newcomers will fight: Manus Boyle, Parsons vs. Johnny Kruss, Combola. Charley Lloyd, Sal Nocchi, Leroy Ponzi, Dynamite Patsy Difeo, and a galaxy of other stars will complete the show.
January 15, 1936
New Middleweight Fighter Here Friday
Freeland Tigers amateur boxing show at the Strand Theatre to show new middleweight Gene Pinter, hard hitting McAdoo fighter, to fight against one of the best boys of his weight. Joe Kiddish, Drifton; Patsy DeFeo; Danny Sohorsky the popular High School fighter; Charley Lloyd; Johnny Schenk, Highland; Sal Nocchi – all will appear on the card, opponents to be announced.
January 17, 1936
Gene Pinter Boxes Swoyersville Sensation At Freeland Tonight
McAdoo Lad Meets Tartar Fow In Joe Casper – Patsey Difeo Versus Johnny Ross In Semi-Windup
The Tigers A. A. presents the most colorful card to be seen in this region in many years; the crowd should break attendance records. To date seven matches have been made, with at least three more bouts a certainty. Topping the bill: clash between Gene Pinter, clean-cut McAdoo middleweight training under Tommy Pugh, and Joe Casper, sensational Swoyerville scrapper. Casper is substituting for Johnny Kotch of St. Clair. Also on the bill: Patsy Difeo, Freeland vs. Johnnie Ross, Hazleton; and Joe Kiddish, Drifton vs. Al Florra, Wilkes-Barre.
May 21, 1936
Gene Pinter Meets Downey At Freeland Ring Tonight
McAdoo Scrapper Meets Tartar Foe In Windup Of Tigers’ Show – Patsy Difeo Battles Pete Cannon In Semi
Amateur boxing, which has been considerably in the lighter vein in this region for a lengthy period, gets a big chance to skyrocket upward tonight, when one of the most colorful shows ever to grace a regional ring is put on at the Freeland Public Park.