Philly Boxing History

JANUARY 13, 1941





World champion Lou Salica defended his bantamweight title against South Philly's Tommy Forte on this day in 1941, before a packed house at the Philadelphia Arena.

Three months earlier, Forte surprised the champion in a non-title bout by winning a 10-round decision in rather easy fashion, flooring and bloodying Salica in the process. The unanimous nod delighted the hometown crowd and Tommy Forte was recognized as the newest sensation in the bantam division. A rematch for the belt was inevitable.

Their second go was a fascinating affair. With the pressure on him to prove the first result a fluke, Salica started quickly and won the opening rounds. By the fourth, Forte started to come on, landing shot after shot and eventually closing Salica's left eye. As the fight wore on, the swollen eye became worse and worse, blinding the champ on that side. Some accounts of the fight criticized Forte for not having enough killer instinct to specifically focus on the damaged eye, a mistake that perhaps helped keep Salica in the fight. In the end, the eye held up and Salica did what champions do - found a way to win. Salica rallied down the stretch and the title, seemingly in Forte's grasp, slipped away from the South Philadelphian. The decision was close and controversial, but the champion managed to get back to Brooklyn with his belt. 

Later in 1941, the two would fight a rubber match outdoors at Shibe Park. The result was another 15-round decision win for Lou Salica. Tommy Forte never made it back to a title contest.

  1939 - Roscoe Toles KO7 Gus Dorazio at Madison Square Garden in New York
  1939 - Johnny Marcelline KO3 Joe Maffei at the Cambria A.C. in Kensington (NE Philly)
  1941 - Johnny Forte W6 Dom Barrone at Philadelphia
  1944 - Billy Arnold KO1 Lennox Dingle at the Olympia in South Philly
  1948 - Dan Bucceroni KO2 Jimmy Long II at Trenton, NJ

  1970 - George Benton KO1 David Beckles at the Blue Horizon in North Philly

  1970 - Eugene 'Cyclone' Hart KO1 Sam Mosley at the Blue Horizon in North Philly
  1971 - Alfonso Hayman W4 Roy Ingram at the Blue Horizon in North Philly
  1976 - Bobby 'Boogaloo' Watts W10 Marvelous Marvin Hagler at the Philadelphia Spectrum
  1976 - Jerome Artis W10 Sammy Goss (fight II) at the Spectrum in South Philly
  1976 - Perry Abney (Lil' Abner) KO3 Frank Kolvart at the Spectrum in South Philly