Tommy Paul

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Professional Boxer

During a 34-year period from 1899-1933, the City of Buffalo reigned over the professional boxing world as home of champions. Boxing held center stage in that era, and names such as Goodrich, Kansas and Slattery were as familiar as Kelly, Smith and Thomas to today’s fans. Heros all, but none matched the feats of the outstanding, Tommy Paul.

Paul, christened Gaetano Papa, was a product of Buffalo’s West Side and Hutchinson Central High School who attempted to follow his father and his brothers into the ring at an early age. His boyish looks hindered his efforts to land even the role of a trainer, but legendary handler Jack Singer spotted something special in the lad, and gave him a tryout. Tommy was soon cleaning up in his amateur fights in the 112-pound division, and Singer realized it was time for bigger and better things. With only six months’ experience under his belt, Paul won the Niagara District Bantamweight Amateur Title, the National AAU Tournament in Boston and the Empire State Amateur Championship within a three month span in 1927.

On August 1, 1927, Paul knocked out Freddie Griffiths in four rounds in his first professional fight. A string of 27 straight wins followed, and by 1932 Tommy had compiled an impressive record of 58-6, and earned a shot at the world featherweight crown. On May 26, 1932, Paul defeated Johnny Pena in Detroit’s Olympia Stadium and brought the world featherweight title to Buffalo. In so doing, he became the last world boxing champion from the Queen City.

Far from resting on his laurels, the indefatigable Paul fought nine top contenders for his crown in nine months, a feat never duplicated in boxing history. He held the title until losing a controversial decision to Freddie Miller in Cincinnati in 1933. Tommy’s career, though a brief nine years, was spectacular, with 114 wins, 80 as a professional. In his quest to be the best, he fought the best, including champs Fidel d LaBarba, Tommy Ryan, Frankie Genaro and Kid Chocolate. Several other notables refused to fight Paul, especially in Buffalo, once his reputation had been established. Paul fought with an unusual hands-down style, but his quickness and power made him hands-down the best fighter, pound-for-pound, of his era. He drew great pride from representing a hometown which tonight honors him in turn with induction into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.