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Web Site Is All About Philly Boxing

by Bernard Fernandez

Philadelphia Daily News - February 22, 2005

John DiSanto was a kid, scouring magazines for stories about his favorite baseball players. But in the process of expanding his knowledge of Pete Rose, he discovered athletes who were even more pugnacious than Charlie Hustle, whose grit and determination were exemplified not by headfirst slides but by mouth-bloodying punches exchanged in the prize ring.

"I was always a baseball fan when I was growing up," said DiSanto, the 42-year-old behind, a terrific Web site. "In reading as much as I could about baseball, I came across articles and photographs about boxers.

"I really got drawn in. My first attraction to boxing was in the sport itself, not specifically to boxing in Philadelphia. I remember seeing that famous photo of [Rocky] Marciano hitting [Jersey Joe] Walcott with a huge right hand. It just piqued my interest.

"So I started watching fights on TV. That was the time of Muhammad Ali and Roberto Duran, a great era for boxing. I began buying The Ring magazine. But it was when I started attending Russell Peltz-promoted fights at the Spectrum as a teenager, with my brother, that I got really hooked. Jeff Chandler and Matthew Saad Muhammad were my favorite Philadelphia fighters back then."

DiSanto, a marketing manager who 2 years ago moved from Center City to Mantua, N.J., transformed his adolescent avocation into a labor of love, and went online in May 2004.

"I'm pretty happy with where it is and where it's going, although it's still a work in progress," DiSanto said. "A year from now, I'd still consider it a work in progress. But as time goes on, it keeps coming together. I'm certainly not embarrassed by it now."

Nor should he be. DiSanto's site includes photos, records, highlights and other fascinating tidbits about Philadelphia fights, fighters, trainers, managers and promoters. Even cutmen, referees, ring announcers and media members draw mentions.

Oh, sure, you'll find Joe Frazier, Bernard Hopkins, Chandler and Saad in there, but also lesser-known guys who never quite strode the world stage but are no less a part of this city's rich boxing mosaic.

"My initial goal was - is - to create a record of Philadelphia's great boxing history so people can find this information," DiSanto said. "I don't want these guys to be forgotten.

"For a lot of them, their legacies are set, they're in the Hall of Fame, they've got much broader-based recognition. But there are many others who have really good stories and were there doing it in Philadelphia when it was earning the reputation of being the best boxing city in America, and maybe the world."


Bernard Fernandez wrote this article in February 2005 for The Philadelphia Daily News



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