Two Ton and the Lady

By Clarence George on June 26, 2014
Two Ton and the Lady
He don't have much in the way of academic credentials, but he knows what hands are for.

Mrs. Granahan, who doesn’t know Galento from gelato, leaves the shindig, sniffily observing, “I didn’t realize it was a publicity gimmick…”

“Dey got me to give the joint some class.”—Tony Galento

It’s in the ‘60s that former heavyweight contender “Two Ton” Tony Galento gets a job managing the Speakeasy Room of the Gaslight Club in New York. The place has checkered red-and-white tablecloths with photos of guys like Jack Dempsey and Mayor Jimmy Walker on the wall, interspersed with an “appropriate number of nudes,” as Oscar Fraley, UPI sportswriter and co-author (with Eliot Ness) of The Untouchables, observes. The man who knocked the great Joe Louis to the canvas back in ‘39 spends his time doing the Twist with chorus girls. But he dons the gloves once again in March of ‘64.

Galento contemporary, King Levinsky, takes time off from selling ties on the corner to head into the 5th Street Gym and tell Muhammad Ali what he thinks of him. Tony don’t go that far, if only because he ain’t in Miami Beach, but he does tell Fraley that Ali is “a real bum” and Sonny Liston “an old geezer,” who sat and stayed sat like a pouty little girl who didn’t like the way mommy braided her hair. “We had fighters,” Galento sneers through what’s left of his stogie. “Louis, Max Baer, Arturo Godoy, Leroy Haynes, Lorenzo Pack. Whole bunches of ‘em. And none of ‘em ever quit sittin’ on a stool.” He’s 54, but has Fraley check out his forearm, which is “as big as a side of ham and hard as a block of concrete.” He tells the writer that he “kayoed three guys in one night in Detroit in 1931 in a total of five rounds,” that Ali and Liston are “bums,” and that he’d “moida” the two of ‘em, same place, same night, no fair and plenty of foul.

But it isn’t Ali or Liston who the “Jersey Nightstick” takes on that March evening, but a dame by the name of Kathryn Granahan.

Following a stint in Congress, the lady was appointed Treasurer of the United States, serving from January 1963 to November 1966. On the night in question, Mrs. Granahan is invited to a party in her honor at the Gaslight. Not the usual venue of a woman who reminds me of no one so much as Natalie Schafer, Lovey Howell of Gilligan’s Island. “I thought it was a little joke,” she says. “So I went.” A joke, perhaps, but she doesn’t wind up doing a whole lot of ladylike tittering.

Tony comes into the room, see, perhaps wearing the gold-buttoned red vest and white silk tie he was known to sport in them days, telling Mrs. Granahan to put up her dukes. Next thing you know, they both got on the gloves and they’re squaring off. The flashbulbs pop and Tony exits stage left to head back to the chorus girls and the Twist. Mrs. Granahan, who doesn’t know Galento from gelato, leaves the shindig in high dudgeon, sniffily observing, “I didn’t realize it was a publicity gimmick.”

Now I got nothing against the colleen, but she did go to one of them collitches. Two Ton, he didn’t. Instead, he gets hisself turned down by manager Jersey Jones. “What else am I gonna do?” said Jersey. “I go into the gym and this guy has a beer in one hand and a hot dog in the other.” I like that. The guy don’t have much in the way of academic credentials, but he knows what hands are for—in one you got your beer, in the other your hot dog.

It takes a mighty small man, and that’s me all right, to tell ya that I get a kick outta letting ya in on Tony outliving the Granahan dame by 12 days.

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Tony "Two-Ton" Galento -vs- Jackie Gleason | as told to Rocky Marciano (16mm Transfer)

Girls helps Tony Galento to exercise while he drinks beer at Miami Beach in Flor...HD Stock Footage

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  1. Jethro's Flute 02:23am, 07/05/2014

    “that Ali and Liston are “bums”.

    I wonder how many stitches Galento would have needed after facing Sonny Liston? It would have made Liston vs Wepner look like a close contest.

    As for Ali vs Galento, I’ve heard Henry Cooper say that a punch from Ali would cut you more than bigger punches because of the way he threw it. And, let’s be honest, no one big punch fighter has a hope in hell against a young Muhammad Ali.

  2. Clarence George 01:25pm, 06/28/2014

    Very nicely put, Pete, and much appreciated.

    I enjoy mining for nuggets from history’s obscure, forgotten, and abandoned mines.  Ah, the so-called trivia I’ve accumulated over the years…

    A friend, with whom I lost touch many years ago, once told me how his father introduced him to Tony in a steam room, of all places.  The fat man gets up to shake the boy’s hand, slips, and falls hard on his posterior.  Unlikely as it seems, my friend swore to me that a photo was taken of the beached boxer.  I begged him to let me see it, but his father promised Tony that he would never show it to anyone, a promise his son continued to honor.

    True or false?  Tomato…tomahto.  What should be true is good enough for me.  Hemingway once described the “Racing Form” as the “true Art of Fiction.”  Well…second to boxing.

  3. Pete The Sneak 12:22pm, 06/28/2014

    Two tons of fun reading this article, CG…This coming from a graduate of the Collitch of hard knocks…Peace.

  4. Clarence George 07:58am, 06/27/2014

    Ha!  What was the name of his joint in Joisy?  The Nut Club, I think.

  5. Eric 07:01am, 06/27/2014

    @Clarence… That was nice. Most definitely. Smoking is always encouraged at “Tony’s Cellar.”

  6. Clarence George 06:47am, 06/27/2014

    And Barbara Nichols selling cigarettes.

  7. Eric 06:32am, 06/27/2014

    The ultimate wide world of sport’s bar dream team. Galento and the Bambino tend bar. Ron Stander is the bar back, heard Ron might need the woik in dis economy. Dem stogie smokin’ dudes from dat Chitown show, “Sport Writers On TV, in the corner talkin’ bout Ditka & Butkus while they get hammered. Minnesota Fats over at the pool table talkin’ trash while getting his arse handed to him by Willie Mosconi. Joe Pesci and his shine box are there just in case your shoes need a cleaning. And Angie Dickinson is there just to add beauty and class to dey joint, sort of like Kitty at the Long Branch.

  8. Clarence George 02:48am, 06/27/2014

    Can’t remember who played the dentist in the original version, Irish, but the patient was a very young Jack Nicholson.

  9. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:12pm, 06/26/2014

    Clarence George-Just looking at Tony opening that beer bottle with his molars made me wince…. I broke one of my molars off down to the gum line just eating a dadgummed BLT sandwich, if you can believe that. The oral surgeon who “practiced” on me reminded me ever so much of Steve Martin’s wack job dentist in ‘Little Shop of Horrors”.

  10. Clarence George 08:00pm, 06/26/2014

    That is indeed an excellent quote, ch.  And I agree with him—don’t much hold with college-educated boxers myself.

    By the way, Irish, notice how Tony opened the beer bottle with his teeth, as was his wont.

  11. ch. 05:20pm, 06/26/2014

    my favorite Galento quote. Tony, who was a veteran of hundreds of street fights and bar room brawls, was so insulted when asked by a reporter if he thought he could beat Lou Nova. “How can I lose - especially against some bum that learnt how to fight in collitch.”

  12. Clarence George 04:15pm, 06/26/2014

    Me too!

  13. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 04:00pm, 06/26/2014

    Tony sippin’ on dat brewski on da beach in Miami really made me toisty!

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