John DiSanto's more than a casual fan of the sweet science. He's a connoisseur. DiSanto, 43, of Mantua, has been going to the fights for the last 20 years. He's been to the Blue Horizon countless times.
"It's not just watching the fights, but sort of being really wrapped up in the atmosphere of the place. All these great guys fought there before my time. And it would be really cool because you'd be sitting there at the fight and see Bernard Hopkins, Ivan Robinson, some of the great guys that fought out of Philly. They all started there," he says.
Last year, he started a Web site dedicated to Philadelphia boxing at phillyboxinghistory.com. To date, it's the most inclusive chronicle of Philly boxing on the Web.
Though he loves the greats, especially beloved Smokin' Joe, he's even more interested in the boxers whose legacies aren't safe.
"Their stories are as good or better that the guys who made it. They were contenders. They had a dream, and then they got it knocked out of them. There's something beautiful about that. I certainly identify with it, and I think most people can," says DiSanto.
He puts 10-15 hours a week on the site, shooting interviews, scanning in memorabilia and doing research. DiSanto says the most rewarding part of his research has been getting in touch with family members of ex-boxers, including kin of "Gypsy" Joe Harris, Johnny Jadick and Tommy Forte.
It's become a collaborative effort to commemorate the fighters who tried to make it all on their own.