Gogea Mitu: A Tall Tale

By Clarence George on March 8, 2015
Gogea Mitu: A Tall Tale
Godfrey's exhibition bout with Gogea Mitu took place in Bucharest on June 30, 1935.

“His managers worry about nothing so much as his food bill. Three or four steaks are just a part of a normal luncheon…”

“Why don’t you ask me what it feels like to be a freak?”—The Amazing Colossal Man

So Taishan Dong is seven feet tall, is he? Piker!

The tallest pro boxer on record is Gogea Mitu, a Romanian who briefly fought in the 1930s. According to Guiness World Records, Mitu was a veritable giant, coming in at 7’6”. Other sources say 7’2” or even 7’5”, but most average it out to 7’4”. His weight varied, but usually hovered around 330. According to The Salt Lake Tribune of December 6, 1935, “His managers worry about nothing so much as his food bill. Three or four steaks are just a part of a normal luncheon for towering Gogea.”

Reminiscent of Tony Galento’s usual snack of “three chickens, as many vegetables as could feed a family of five, milk, dessert, and occasionally up to fifty glasses of beer,” as Joseph Monninger drily reports in Two Ton. The difference, of course, is that Mitu had at least 19 inches on Galento. Should they have ever fought, you’d be hard-pressed to condemn Tony for giving in to his usual propensity to head south of the border. I mean, they’d be right there.

Famed tailor Billy Taub would have loved to have gotten his hands on Mitu, as each of his suits required 25 feet of cloth. Taub dressed any number of boxers, including Primo Carnera, but the Italian was a midget in comparison, barely coming in at 6’6”.

Born in the tiny village of Marsani on July 14, 1914, Mitu of course joined the circus, where he was spotted by Umberto Lancia, a boxer who became his trainer and manager.

The Romanian, aka the Giant of Marsani, only had three pro fights, stopping Saverio Grizzo by first-round KO at the Venus Arena in Bucharest on June 7, 1935, doing the same to Dumitru Pavelescu at Gibb Hall in Bucharest on October 27, 1935, and drawing against (first name unknown) Bergman somewhere in Paris on January 2, 1936.

Mitu did, however, have several exhibition matches, one of them against the great George Godfrey (6’3”), aka the Black Shadow of Leiperville.

In addition to the legendary Sam Langford, Godfrey took on the names of his day, including Jack Sharkey, Larry Gains, Paolino Uzcudun, Johnny Risko, Chuck Wiggins, Primo Carnera, Arthur De Kuh, Tiger Jack Fox, and Obie Walker. He fought from 1919 to 1935, returning to the ring for one more bout on August 10, 1937, losing to Hank Hankinson by eighth-round TKO at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles in a bout reffed by Max Baer, who himself knocked out Hankinson in his last fight. Hankinson’s win over Godfrey was the last of his career, though he did go on to beat actress Dolly Dobson to death in his apartment in 1941. Godfrey wound up with a record of 96 wins, 78 by knockout, 21 losses, six by knockout, and two draws.

Godfrey’s exhibition bout with Mitu took place in Bucharest on June 30, 1935, the Hall of Famer winning by fourth-round KO.

Gogea Mitu died of tuberculosis in Bucharest on June 22, 1936. He was 21.

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  1. Eric 12:38pm, 03/09/2015

    Irish… Thanks for the 411 on Tommy Morrison. Tommy certainly wasn’t an angel outside of the ropes, but it isn’t like he was public enemy #1.  Seems like the guy has been all but forgotten. He was having his way with Mercer until he got caught. I still can’t believe he wasn’t ranked in the top 100 heavyweights by Mr. McGrain. Tommy could have destroyed some of those heavies who made that list.

  2. Kid Blast 12:23pm, 03/09/2015

    Trey Lippe Morrison just demolished some guy who was the favorite. I mean he knocked the guy cold. He looks very good to me.

  3. Clarence George 12:11pm, 03/09/2015

    I’m glad you find that paragraph interesting, Nicolas.  Frankly…so do I!  Indeed, gold star next to your name for being the first to notice my brilliantly executed throwaway line regarding Hankinson killing Dolly Dobson.

    While there’s no reason to think the killing was premeditated, a mere two years for beating a woman to death is unconscionable, especially as the law deems a professional boxer’s fists deadly weapons.

    Didn’t Hankinson die as the result of carbon monoxide poisoning?  Something like that.  An unpleasant man, who reminds me somewhat of Neville Heath, one of England’s more sadistic women-killers.

    Johnson very much resented Louis; perhaps Godfrey did too.  But I always thought that Johnson was unnecessarily and self-destructively provocative.  Louis was smarter, and well-advised by co-managers Johnny Roxborough and Julian Black.  He never gloated over a fallen white foe, and kept his involvement with white women on the QT.  Also, very different times—Johnson was in the ring some 20 years before Louis was even born.

    You might be interested in Lindy Lindell’s work.  Lindy, who wrote “Metro Detroit Boxing,” considers Louis a key player in the advancement of black civil rights.

  4. nicolas 09:50am, 03/09/2015

    I thought it was interesting that you did bring out a paragraph about Godfrey and Hankinson. I feel that if boxing had been fairer to black fighters then that Godfrey would have been heavyweight champ before Louis. Read somewhere that not only did Johnson not like Louis, neither did Godfrey. People who think that peo;le got better justice back then should read that Hankinson only got two years for the killing of this woman. Could you imagine today if he only got two years. Interestingly thought his dead was not long after his realease from jail, and in a woman’s apartment as well. Makes you wonder if someone did not plan to kill him.

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:47am, 03/09/2015

    Eric-Tommy Morrison has two sons who are half brothers….Trey Lippe Morrison and Kenzie Witt who are in the early stages of their careers….both can hit….Trey is more advanced at this point….I don’t believe either had extensive amateur careers….we’ll see how it goes….it would be nice if one or the other follows in his father’s footsteps.

  6. Eric 06:24am, 03/09/2015

    Irish…The scene with Slim Pickens is priceless. teehee. I forgot all about watching the fights on Saturday night. First time in years that some major fights are broadcast on network television and I forgot to watch. I just remembered it upon visiting boxing.com the next morning.

  7. Clarence George 03:03am, 03/09/2015

    Irish:  I remember Carey best from “Paths of Glory.”  As for Marie Windsor, I recently saw her in “The Sniper.”

    In case you haven’t seen it, I recommend “Fourteen Hours,” with Richard Basehart.  It’s based on the case of John William Warde, who threw himself from the Gotham (now the Peninsula) in 1938.  The photos of his fall are nothing short of chilling.

  8. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:27pm, 03/08/2015

    Eric-Did you notice that Guerrero is now saying that Aydin hits harder than Thurman….those were some nasty, hurtful shots Thurman was landing…..who the hell jumps in and almost KO’s a battle hardened veteran like Guerrero with a double right uppercut!

  9. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:17pm, 03/08/2015

    Eric-The scene where he clocks “Lon” (Slim Pickens) with a sweet left hook to the gut is not too shabby either. I think Marlon was using some of the chops he learned from playing Terry Malloy in “On The Waterfront”.

  10. Eric 08:04pm, 03/08/2015

    Irish…I just looked up the Mr. Carey you mentioned and instantly recognized him from, “One-Eyed Jacks.” The bar scene with Brando punching out Carey was one of the best scenes in that movie. Great movie. They don’t make’em like that anymore.

  11. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:51pm, 03/08/2015

    Clarence George- I bet you didn’t see this one coming but…..this article brings to mind Timothy Agoglia Carey, in my view the greatest exponent of the stream of UNconsciousness acting….which in turn reminds me of Kubrick’s “The Killing” and naturally Marie Windsor who still gives me a warm all over feeling!

  12. Clarence George 10:01am, 03/08/2015

    You are evil, KB, evil!

    Carnera and Willard were impressive physical specimens, Eric, which is more than one can say for Mitu.  I think that just about any good heavyweight of the time, regardless of the height difference, would have destroyed him in short order.

  13. Eric 09:19am, 03/08/2015

    I see where the big guy died the following year after his boxing debut. He didn’t exactly look like the picture of health in the video provided. You only had to watch the huge man walking or his awkward display on the heavy bag to know that a boxing ring was the last place this guy needed to be earning a living. Even the still photos tell the story. Say what you want about Primo, but Carnera wasn’t a bad athlete, moved well for his size, had remarkable stamina for someone his size, as did Willard.

  14. Kid Blast 08:57am, 03/08/2015

    “..Mitu had at least 19 inches on Galento….” Interesting turn of words

  15. Eric 08:39am, 03/08/2015

    I saw some photos of Carnera posing with Robert Wadlow. I’m guessing the pictures were taken when Carnera was champ and that Wadlow obviously hadn’t reached his full height of 8’11”.  Wadlow would have been about 15-16 years old when Carnera was the heavyweight champ, but even then, he looked like he had about a foot on the Da Preem.

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