Philly Boxing History

JUNE 12, 1958




Good friends Garnet "Sugar" Hart and Gil Turner, both of North Philly, clashed in a big outdoor show on this day in 1958. The 22-year old Hart seemed to have the upper hand in the ten rounder, however Turner, seven years older, managed to earn a draw from the official judges.

8,769 fans watched as Turner opened the fight well, using his strength and whirlwind punching style to take the first two rounds of the match at Connie Mack Stadium. Hart rebounded with left hook-right uppercut combinations in the next two sessions to bring the fight even after four. Round five was all Turner as he pinned his buddy in a corner and flurried away. But beginning in round six, Hart took control of the action and appeared to win the second half of the fight.

Everyone was shocked when ring announcer Pete Byron read the scorecards. First came the 46-46 tie by judge Nate Lopinson. The crowd was surprised. Next Byron read referee Zack Clayton's score of 48-44 for Hart. The crowd was relieved and cheered loudly. Finally came judge Jim Mena's tab of 46-45 for Turner. The result was a split decision draw. A poll of ringsiders all had Hart winning.

This fight was the last big outdoor show in Philadelphia. After a two day rain delay, the Thursday night card grossed $37,500. Turner fought just three more times, wrapping up his career in November 1958. At this point, Hart was in the middle of his prime run. He would rack up two of his biggest wins shortly afterward against Ralph Dupas and Issac Logart and hold the number one welterweight contender spot.


The undercard of the Sugar Hart vs. Gil Turner bout was filled with four key Philly match ups. Rising star Len Matthews scored a sensational fourth round KO over Henry "Toothpick" Brown in the scheduled eight-round main supporting bout. The 19 year old Matthews ran his record to 11-0 with the win. It was Brown's last fight.

George Benton blasted Slim Jim Robinson out of the ring in round four. Robinson cleared his head on the ground and ran around to the ring steps to re-enter the ring. However he couldn't beat the count. The fight was scheduled for eight. Benton upped his record to 33-2-1 with the KO. These two became prominent trainers in the years to come.

Also on the card, Jethro Cason won a clear-cut eight-round unanimous decision over Boland Abrams and Charlie Cummings, of Philly, easily out-pointed Ireland's Pat O'Brien over eight rounds in the show opener.


  1931 - Lew Farber W8 Dick Welsh at Portsmouth, VA

  1939 - Tommy Forte KO1 Ted Christie at the Philadelphia Arena Stadium
  1939 - Tommy Fort W6 Nate Sullivan at the Adelphia A.C. in Philadelphia
  1967 - Nick Spanakas W4 Augie Pantellas at Philadelphia
  1982 - James Shuler KO2 Collin Keller at the Playboy Hotel in Atlantic City
  1988 - Meldrick Taylor W10 Martin Quiroz at Villa Park, IL