Basilio, DeMarco, and the IBHOF

By Richard V. Powell on July 22, 2012
Basilio, DeMarco, and the IBHOF
“Tony DeMarco and I are great friends,” Basilio said, “and have been for several decades."

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, “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.”

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  1. nicolas 01:19am, 02/07/2015

    Sadly he has never been nominated. Now of course they do have the old timers going up to 1988. They took away 35 from the previous list, and put them on the old timers list. However, they only vote every two years on the before 1988, and alternate that with 1943. the way it is going, he will have a chance in 22 years of getting in. Then again, Ray Mancini got in to the hall this year. Yet he had never been nominated before, and he was eligible in the late 90’s. Wonder what those previous ten guys who were nominated think? I am pretty sure it has something to do with the book and movie about Mancini that got him into the hall on his first time nominated. Maybe DeMarco will get into that old timers hall soon.

  2. Dan "The Hammer" Hynes 07:07pm, 02/06/2015

    Well said for Mr. DeMarco, keep on supporting his induction before it is to late. That bum Mayer weather and others should see the real macoys of yesterday before they rant on total BS.

  3. nick 08:49pm, 12/04/2012

    Have come very late into this article. As the voting comes into being a few days from now on December 10, it is worth noting there are many fighters in the hall who really don’t belong there yet, and there are many fighters like Mr. DeMarco who should perhaps be in but are not. Jerry Quarry has better credentials than some of the fighters who are in the hall. One way to get some of these fighters in the hall, would be to change the Old Timers inductions from before 1942 last fight, to having had your last fight some 50 yrs ago. That way we could change it to 1962 as of now. It will be very interesting to see who gets in this year. It is also interesting to note that while most on the ballot were born or from foreign countries, more than half the fighters in the hall are from the US.

  4. Tex Hassler 07:39am, 07/31/2012

    Floyd Mayweather should fall on his knees and thank God he does not have to fight a prime Tony DeMarco or Basilio who would expose him and force him to the ropes where he has not learned to fight, then KO Floyd.
    YES by all means Tony DeMarco should be in the Hall of Fame and be apologized to for taking so very long, actually far too long. DeMarco was a great fighter when the word great meant something besides having a lot of fake paper titles.  GREAT ARTICLE AMIGO!

  5. russ 05:30am, 07/28/2012

    I was a huge DeMarco fan—from the 1st time I watched his fearless walk-in punching style of fighting with Teddy Red Top Davis to his last fight with Stephan Redl I literally would get sick before every fight for fear of Tony getting injured with his style of reckless abandon. (Watch him get up from being knocked down by Carmen and start pitching haymaker lefts wildly in an attempt to pull out victory) He was truly a warrior. I loved his image as a fighter.
    But the Hall of Fame should represent only those people who DOMINATED their era be it fighters—trainers—promoters—Tony did not dominate his division—Though he tried harder than most.
    To me Tony DeMarco is much more than the Hall of Fame—for if ever I was cornered in an alley by a bunch of toughs and had a choice of one to stand with me—I would not choose Muhammed Ali—I would choose Tony DeMarco.
    Thanks for the excitement champ. No one ever touched my primal psyche like you did—when you had Saxton in the corner blasting away in the 14th round I cried out “KILL HIM” like Bill Holden in the Bridge Over The River Kwai from the very depths of my soul. It never happened like that again in my life—I was 19—I am now 76.

  6. chuck H. 03:32am, 07/26/2012

    HALL OF SHAME : I don’t see where Mancini is such a favorite. Ray Mancini isn’t even on the IBHOF ballot. I don’t think Gatti will be on the ballot for awhile either.

  7. Original Eight 12:02pm, 07/24/2012

    Ken Overlin has been on the ballot since the IBHOF’s inception and still can’t gather enough votes for inclusion. DeMarco isn’t even on their ballot.

  8. Don from Prov 09:00am, 07/23/2012

    The arguments have been pretty much laid out on these posts—

    That Mr. DeMarco is not in the Hall says much more about the IBHOF then it does about Mr. DeMarco who met them all (and beat most of them) at a time when “meeting them all” meant something real. Shame on the IBHOF.

  9. THE THRESHER 06:36am, 07/23/2012

    “ most things in boxing, short money and cronyism take precedence over the best interest of the sport…”

  10. Hall of Shame 10:03pm, 07/22/2012

    The main thrust of the IBHOF is to attract as many people as possible to the induction weekend to spend money in the area, to purchase tickets to their events, and to purchase their third-rate apparel.

    Don’t be surprised if Ray Mancini, a long-time favorite of the IBHOF, and Arturo Gatti are inducted before Tony DeMarco.

  11. the thresher 06:05pm, 07/22/2012

    This in from Daniel McGarvie on FACEBOOK:

    friends & boxing brothers please add MICHAEL DOKES in your prayers he is in his last days with liver Cancer .. GOD BLESS you CHAMP.. never to be forgotten

  12. pugknows 04:27pm, 07/22/2012

    I like the way you set forth the logic, Thresher. However, the mere mention of Hauser’s name makes me ill. He is as rancid as spoiled cheese.

  13. the thresher 02:40pm, 07/22/2012

    Now, Michael Buffer (the latest undeserving Hall of Fame member) announces many boxers as “future Hall of Famers,” even though said fighters muck up their legacies by staying on too long and losing fights in which they should never be involved or by incurring a long losing streak before they retire. He feeds into the frenzy.

  14. the thresher 01:33pm, 07/22/2012

    So did Teddy.

  15. the thresher 01:33pm, 07/22/2012

    Well, Paul said it better than I ever could. And I agree with Jofre 100%.

  16. jofre 12:01pm, 07/22/2012

    Tony’s record is as good as or better than 40% of the current inductees in the Boxing Hall of Fame. Tony fought 8 World Champions, won 58 fights and knocked out 32 opponents in his great career. He defeated such fighters as IBHOF inductee Kid Gavilan, Johnny Saxton, Vince Martinez, Chico Vejar, Gaspar Ortega, Wallace “Bud” Smith, Paddy DeMarco, Johnny Cesario, Chris Chrstensen, George Araujo, Larry Boardman, Terry Young, Don Jordan, Stefan Redl, Wilbur Wilson, Arthur Persley, Carlos Chavez, Teddy Davis, Walter Byars and Pat Demers. He fought a draw with IBHOF inductee Jimmy Carter. He also met such outstanding fighters as IBHOF inductee Carmen Basilio, Virgil Akins and Denny Moyer. In addition, Tony’s second title fight with Carmen Basilio was The Ring magazine’s “1955 Fight of the Year.” Compare that to some of the selections and it’s a no brainer.

  17. Paul Magno 11:52am, 07/22/2012

    I think in 20-25 years time most of boxing’s history will be gone forever. The current climate of boxing writing has no room for historical perspective. They want fighter gossip and promotional minutiae…and quickly. Lord help them if another site posts details from Pacquiao hitting a heavy bag at the Wild Card first. As a result, the new age scribes have become glad-handing publicists by necessity with a frame of reference that goes back to the Clinton presidency. If you want solid writing backed by solid analysis and some historical perspective, I don’t know of more than a handful of names out there. And, for the most part, they are tucked away as secondary figures on big to mid-sized websites or relegated to the smaller sites. As for the BWAA, all who know me know my take. I would never pursue membership (nor would I be granted membership)...The “fraternity” is three-quarters full of twits and sycophants who just want something cool to post on a business card. Maybe if they took the sport seriously and actually worked to do some good for boxing, more good, honest writers would care to join. But we all know why that won’t happen, right? It has to do with pockets, and certain members being in them…

  18. the thresher 11:15am, 07/22/2012

    There is no conspiracy here; there simply is ignorance and a lack of history. I was never a great Bert Sugar fan, but his passing deprives us of a solid historical connection to the past because he lived it and experienced it. Today’s historians are google historians and I don’t begrudge them for that, but they need to mix their google research with corroboration through interviews and vintage videos and newspaper accounts found in libraries. They need to practice research methodology of the type taught and/or learned in a Grad School program. Winging it just doesn’t get it. Allowing Buffer and Rocky in and keeping DeMarco and so many others out reflects popularity rather than merit. It’s wrong.

  19. the thresher 11:08am, 07/22/2012

    Also Steve Collins who continually gets ignored even though he beat Benn and Eubank twice each, etc etc,

  20. the thresher 10:58am, 07/22/2012

    When someone refers to Arturo Gatti as “old Old School” they may be comparing him to guys like Fullmer, Basilio, and DeMarco. They were accessible, humble and engaging outside the ring but ferocious and vicious inside. Courageous, respectful, and hard working—their behaviors reflected the values that existed in the 1940s and 1950s. The men back then were hard and determined, well schooled with great fight teachers and trainers, and had far more fights to stay sharp.

  21. The thresher 10:48am, 07/22/2012

    Well, Tony is a great friend of mine so it’s hard to comment without a strong and admitted bias, but I have written any number of articles on this subject. Frankly, I hold Tom Hauser and the young writers he has allowed into the BWAA for some of the responsibility. Some of these guys don’t know the real Tony from today’s Antonio DeMarco from Mexico. Since the members of the BWAA are responsible for nominating candidates to the Hall, it’s the BWAA and not the Hall that should be targeted for criticism. Since Hauser, until very recently, was the chair of the membership committee, he was, by extension, partially to blame. I understand he is no longer the Chair but is still on that Committee. He will argue that he is not in favor of the way candidates are selected, but his logic just doesn’t square with the aforementioned facts. I once pointed this out to members of IBRO and was immediately attacked by one of Hauser’s sycophants which was and is a violation of the IBRO charter rules. The attacker (a young and recent BWAA member unilaterally recruited by Hauser), was embarrassed and braced needless to say

    This entire procedure is defective. The wrong people nominate candidates because they lack a historical perspective. The proof of the pudding is that synopsis( summaries)  of each nominee are posted on the BWAA web site for the voters to review. They are prepared by young members for review by other young members. Can you imagine IBRO members or other recognized historians like Mike Silver finding it necessary to review summaries of guys like Tony DeMarco, Ohba, Davey Moore, etc.?


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