About This Book
Beetle-browed, nearly bald, a head that rode his collarbones like a bowling ball returning on rails, his waist size more than half his five-foot-eight height, Two Ton Tony Galento appeared nearly square, his legs two broomsticks jammed into a vertical hay bale. By all measures he stood no chance when he stepped into the ring against the Brown Bomber, Joe Louis, the finest heavyweight of his generation, in Yankee Stadium on a June night in 1939. “I’ll moida da bum,” Galento predicted, and though Louis was no bum, Tony, the Falstaff of boxing, lifted him from the canvas with a single left hook and entered the record books as one of the few men to put the great Louis down. A palooka, a thug, a vibrant appetite of a man, he scrapped his way out of the streets and into the brightest light in American life. For two splendid seconds he stood on the canvas at Yankee Stadium, the great Joe Louis stretched out before him, champ of the world, the toughest man alive, the mythical hero of the waterfront, of Orange, New Jersey, of an American nation little more than a year away from war. Joe Monninger’s spellbinding portrait of a man, a moment, and an era reminds us that sometimes it is through effort, and not the end result, that people most enduringly define themselves.
Joseph Monninger is the author of eight novels and two memoirs. He has written for Sports Illustrated, American Heritage, Scientific American, and the Boston Globe. He is a two-time recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in New Hampshire where he and his family run a dog sledding business, and he is a licensed fishing guide.
"[The] strength of this exceptional book is in the thoughts the author is brave enough to attribute to the fighters who were involved in that unlikely bout, and to the crowd that witnessed it, and to the much larger crowd that listened to the fight on the radio. It takes a writer with flair and courage to extract from the shocking knockdown early in that fight the unstated reason so many people passionately paid attention to the event... the promise, however brief and fragile, of a crazy surprise that changes everything." - Bill Littlefield, The Boston Globe
"Joseph Monninger’s Two Ton provides a highly detailed and exciting description of the 1939 heavyweight title fight between Joe Louis and Orange, New Jersey native “Two Ton” Tony Galento. Monninger’s real achievement is not the tale of the fight itself, but rather of the circumstances that lead up to it, and its explanation of how one chunky, heavyset bartender with a far-from-average left hook could rise to fight for the world championship."
"Boxing's battles have occasioned some of the best writing any sport has ever inspired. Two Ton stands beside the work of such masters as W.C. Heinz on the shelf devoted to the most dangerous of games." — Bill Littlefield, host, NPR's Only a Game
A championship match-up between Italian-American boxer Tony Galento and legend Joe Louis is the focus here, but also the lens through which this brisk and entertaining history looks at the state of the nation in the 1930s.... Most compelling throughout, however, is Monninger's presentation of the gluttonous, fun-loving Galento... Monninger artfully revives "Two Ton Tony."
— Kirkus Reviews
Monninger doesn't cast any aspersions on Galento's character. He writes about Louis, Galento, their battle, and the time in which they lived without rancor and with great honesty. If one didn't know any better, they would think that the author actually lived during those times... Monninger glowlingly, vividly, and inspiringly recounts that 'a moment, and an era reminds us that sometimes it is through effort, exceeding expectations and beating the odds, that people can most enduringly define themselves.' For all of two seconds, as Louis lay on the canvas, Galento was, for all intents and purposes, the heavyweight champion of the world. Sadly, he never got the chance to land that second punch.
This wonderful book will exceed any reader's expectations. Pulling you in from the first page of the preface, it never stops packing the same wallop that would have been contained in a follow-up left hook by Galento."
— The Sweet Science
I am not a fan of boxing. But I am a fan of good writing. Joseph Monninger knocks me out with his new book Two Ton... The techniques he's honed in fiction carry over beautifully to this true story: spot-on descriptions, deftly drawn characters, sharp insights into human nature, and most of all, a master's sense of plot and structure. The plot lives in the action that takes place in those 11 minutes, and the suspense builds as Monninger stops time - click, a snapshot - and shows readers what's really going on in that moment, what it means, why it matters... With Two Ton, Monninger brings the name of Galento back into our American consciousness. It's a great book about a great guy, a great fight and, ultimately, our own great country. "
— Nashua Telegram
"'Two Ton' takes the reader back to an era when a rotund New Jersey barkeep, who was called 'Two Ton' not for his weight but for the amount of ice he hauled daily by hand, could take on the world's greatest heavyweight and believe in his heart that he could win." —The Hartford Courant