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Mark of a legend

by Bill Gelman
South Philly Review - July 13, 2006

A historical marker for former world light heavyweight champ Tommy Loughran was unveiled Friday outside of St. Monica parish.

When talking about Philly boxing or, more specifically, South Philly boxing, Tommy Loughran's name is hard to forget.

During his 18-year professional career (1919 to 1937), Loughran fought more than 100 times, compiling a 94-20-10 career record with 17 KOs.

He captured the world light heavyweight title, which he held for almost two years until relinquishing to chase dreams of becoming world heavyweight champ. Despite never fulfilling that goal, Loughran's contributions - in and out of the ring - were never forgotten.

Boxing historian Chuck Hasson of Delaware suggested nominating Loughran for a historical marker. "Tommy was known throughout his career as a gentleman as much as he was for being a great fighter," Hasson said.

A special Mass was held in Loughran's memory July 7 outside of St. Monica Parish, 17th and Ritner streets, followed by a dedication ceremony attended by 50 family members, Janet Klein of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Philadelphia area boxing promoter J Russell Peltz and numerous others.

Celeste Morello, who nominated Loughran for the marker, was also present. This was the 26th historical plate she has gotten for Philadelphia, with American Bandstand, W.C. Fields and Shibe Park being a few others. Since 1946, the commission has administered this program to capture the memory of people, places and events that have affected the lives of Pennsylvanians over the centuries.

Placing the marker outside St. Monica parish is ideal, as it was Loughran's neighborhood and where he attended church. When St. Monica's had a fire during the 1970s, Loughran helped lead the fund-raising efforts.

In the ring, Loughran captured the world light heavyweight title Dec. 12, 1927, at Madison Square Garden, winning on points over Jimmy Slattery. In March 1934, Loughran got his shot at the heavyweight belt, losing in a unanimous decision to Primo Carnera. The fighter, who died in '82, was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame nine years later.

John DiSanto, editor and Webmaster of, helped get the historical marker placed.

"For me, it's a really big deal because it's not frequently where boxing gets much [positive] recognition these days," DiSanto said. "Now his name is being remembered. It's a permanent marker."


Bill Gelman writes for the South Philly Review. This article was originally printed in that newspaper in July 2006.


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