Basilio, DeMarco, and the IBHOF
Tony DeMarco was one of the greatest fighters in history. Best known for his devastating left hook, DeMarco, who hailed from Boston, stunned the boxing world on April 1st, 1955 with his 14th round upset victory over then-welterweight champion Johnny Saxton in Boston Garden. His domination of Saxton included landing 124 punches without a miss and, at one point, 24 punches in a row.
Never one to duck an opponent, DeMarco fought the top fighters of his era: Paddy DeMarco, Teddy “Red Top” Davis, Chico Vejar and Don Jordan, with many of the bouts winding up as brutal 15-round slugfests that make today’s tactical fights pale in comparison.
His career up to that point should have been enough to guarantee his inclusion into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. But if that wasn’t enough, his wars with Carmen Basilio, two of the greatest welterweight fights of all time, should have made him a shoe-in.
“The only thing I can think of is that it’s something personal,” said DeMarco about his exclusion from the Hall of Fame. “I feel that my fights with Carmen should be more than enough to get me in.”
One theory for the snub is that the IBHOF began with the induction of his most famous opponent back in 1982. According to the IBHOF’s website, “The idea of a Hall of Fame germinated out of a town’s love for one, and later two, of its hometown boys.” Those “hometown boys” were Carmen Basilio and his nephew Billy Backus. There has been speculation that Basilio partisans are IBHOF officers, and hence the snub.
During a recent interview, Basilio rejected the notion that he has any kind of fractured relationship with DeMarco. “Tony DeMarco and I are great friends,” Basilio told Boxing.com, “and have been for several decades. We‘ve visited with them (Tony and his wife Dottie) several times. We’ve met them in Las Vegas, Arizona. They‘re some of our best friends.”
When asked if DeMarco should be inducted into the IBHOF, Basilio didn’t skip a beat. “Of course, let Tony in,” he stated emphatically, adding that DeMarco’s exclusion is nothing short of an injustice. “It‘s wrong. He has every right to be in.”