LA BARBA ENDS RING CAREER (Associated Press, August 24, 1927) LOS ANGELES -- Fidel La Barba today was again the undisputed ruler of the flyweight ranks as the result of his convincing victory over Johnny Vacca, Bridgeport, Conn., scrapper, here last night. Vacca twice before had defeated the champion. The consensus of experts on the round by round gave La Barba a wide margin. Some ringsiders gave Vacca one round and three even, while others believed that he did not take a single frame and only one even. The average opinion called the first, fourth and eighth even and the ninth Vacca's. The tenth was La Barba's best round. While Vacca's potent right hand was much respected by the champion, La Barba displayed a willingness to mix at all time.s After a slow and fairly even first round, La Barba started out furiously, and showing none of the cautiousness that has marked most of his fights since winning the 112-pound title, slugged viciously in a way reminiscent of his amateur days when he ran up a long list of knockout victories. There seemed no doubt in the minds of the audience that the home boy earned the nod. He was given an ovation as he left the ring. That La Barba would not enjoy for long his freshly won honors seemed indicated by his announcement that he would enter Stanford University this fall. He has been accepted for entrance at the instiution next month and will abdicate his pugilistic crown for a freshman's skull cap. George Blake, manager of La Barba, has been given credit for developing his little protege into a champion in less than three years as a fighter and while he was still in his teens, is entirely in accordance with La Barba's desire to enter school again. In Los Angeles, La Barba and Blake are considered as being more like a father and son than a boxer and manager. (ED. NOTE -- The New York Boxing Commission recognized the winner of the Corporal Izzy Schwartz-Newsboy Brown 15-rounder (Schwartz) the following December as champion, but the division was tossed into a title confusion by La Barba's "retirement." In February, 1928, Frankie Genaro -- whom La Barba beat for the championship in 1925 -- gained National Boxing Association recognition with a 10-round decision over Frenchy Belanger at Toronto. Within another year, Frenchman Emile "Spider" Pladner had beaten Genaro, Schwartz and European champ Johnny Hill. Thus, the International Boxing Union anointed Pladner as world flyweight king. But Genaro beat him on a foul at Paris in April, 1929. Meanwhile, the New York commissioners were staging their own elimination tournament, which Midget Wolfast won by beating Black Hill at New York City in 15 rounds on March 21, 1930. To further draw out the agony, Genaro and Wolgast then fought as 15-round draw at New York on Dec. 26, 1930, but before they could be rematched, Genaro was knocked out by Young Perez in Paris. Perez, in turn, was a knockout victim to Jackie Brown at Manchester, England. Despite Small Montana's claims to the contrary (he had decisioned Midget Wolgast at Oakland, Calif., in September, 1935), Brown was generally recognized as champion -- before he was flattened, in two heats, by Benny Lynch at Manchester the same month. Finally Lynch consolidated the flyweight championship claims by outpointing Small Montana at London, England, on January 19, 1937. Meanwhile, less than a year after his "retirement," La Barba was back in the ring. He participated in 58 more fights, between 1928 and 1933, winning 44 of them. One of the losses was in a world featherweight title challenge to Bat Battalino on May 22, 1931 in New York. The champ retained the honors with a 15-round decision. A year and a half later, La Barba tried for the New York state version of the featherweight crown -- but lost a 15-round decision to longtime rival Kid Chocolate. La Barba retired from the ring, for good, at age 27.)
Hype Igoe speaks on Leo Lomski (Tacoma News Tribune, November 15, 1927) By Dan Walton Hype Igoe, veteran boxing writer of the New York Morning World, rates Leo Lomski, Aberdeen lightheavy, as the greatest all-around fighter in the world today. Igoe has seen the best of them for years and years and his opinion is a real compliment to the Aberdeen kid. Here's what Hype says about Leo in his column, "Pardon My Glove": "Do you want to know my opinion as to which of the youngsters in any division looms up like a world beater? Then I'll tell you. It is Leo Lomski, the fellow who gave Yale Okun the worst body beating any man has taken in a New York ring since Johnny Marto battered Phil Cross into retirement. They don't fight the body these days as Marto did, and Lomski, in a way, is the nearest approach to Steve Ketchel, so far as body punching goes, that has come along. All told, he is the BEST fighter in the country today. "My back is to the wall on that and in the rush of enraged managers I see coming at me are Pete Reilly, Jimmy Johnston, Leo Flynn, Eddie Kane, Eddie Long, Eddie Sears, Charley Harvey, George Lawrence, Joe Woodman, Johnny keyes, Joe Mulverhill, Johnny Cox, Abe Katz, Abe Matin, Billy Gibson, Paddy Mullins, Tom Fahey, all of them. Come one, come all. If you drive my back through the wall, my last chirp will be: 'LEO LOMSKI IS THE BEST ALL-ROUND FIGHTER IN THIS COUNTRY.'" Leo is in line for a title bout with Tommy Loughran, the 175-pound champion. Loughran, a clever fellow, who generally makes his opponent "look bad," is of the type that figures to beat Lomski, and if it were not for the chance at winning the title, it would be a bad match for Leo to take. Considering Mickey Walker's recent kayo victory over Mike McTigue, the middleweight champion and Lomski would be a "natural" battle for New York, but there is little chance for such a match there in view of the fact that Walker is the middleweight champion and would have to make the middleweight poundage if he boxed in New York. There also is some talk of a match between Lomski and Tiger Flowers. Leo holds a disputed decision over the "deacon." Flowers with his awkward style is rather a hard guy to fight, but Leo is bigger and better than he was when he met the negro before and might score an even more decisive victory over Flowers. One thing about it is that a hard, straight socking puncher is the kind of fighter to beat the "Tigah" and Leo is all of that. Leo's right smash to the heart is his best punch and it figures to slow up Flowers as he comes tumbling in to the attack.
THE SPORTOLOGUE (Tacoma News Tribune, December 24, 1927) By Dan Walton Ran across some rather interesting information in a New York newspaper the other day anent Leo Lomski, Aberdeen light-heavyweight who is to get his chance at the light-heavyweight title January 6. Among the startling bits of information contained in the story were that Leo and his brother were the only two Jews in Aberdeen; that Leo played on the high school football and baseball teams there; that Aberdeen is on Puget Sound, and that Leo is managed by Eddie Ecker, a boy from Aberdeen. For the information of those who have not followed Lomski's career, I might state that it has been generally accepted that Leo is a Pole; that he was a sweet fighter before he ever saw Aberdeen; that he never went to school on the Harbor; that Aberdeen is not usually considered as located on Puget Sound, and that Eddie Eicher should be highly complimented by being called a "boy." Some parts of the story are correct, and it's interesting -- if not so true. Anyway, more power to Leo and Eddie -- it's good publicity. And I presume we western writers make as many errors in writing of easterners. Here's the story: "Two boys alone in an intensely native-son town years ago fought gang after gang every day on their way to school, on their way home again and wherever they went. They were Leo Lomski and his elder brother, and this heroic treatment, day by day, developed the former into one of the greatest light-heavyweights that this country has known in a decade. "'Boy, that ws the life,' declared Leo as he recalled the first of his life battles. "'Every day, rain or shine,' he laughed, 'we had to fight our way to school, then fight back again. And sometimes my brother and myself fought as as many as eight fellows who ganged us. That made me a fighter.' "It was in Aberdeen, Wash., that this constant warfare was fought, so many years back at any rate that Lomski can laugh at it nowadays. "Lomski's father, of Polish-Jewish extraction, was born in Philadelphia and moved to Oklahoma early, at the time when the old Indian territory was opened to the land boomers. "Dad Lomski raced with the tide that swept over the old reservation in the day when it was thrown into the hands of the white man. he established a cotton gin in one of the towns and dollars flowed into the treasury of the family. "For Lomski, the elder, had married shortly after he became a boomer, his wife being of Scotch-Irish blood. When Leo ws a babe in arms, less than a year old, the gotton gin burned to the ground and with it went the collapse of the Lomski fortunes. "'The old man was a wanderer,' said Leo, reciting the misfortunes, 'and he hiked for the west. He didn't get to Aberdeen at first, but tarried along the way. "'He was in Montana for a spell, then in Idaho. Finally he reached Aberdeen, which was just at the edge of the big forests where the lumbering and logging are carried on. The city is about 30,000, and is on Puget Sound, and ships most of the timber that is cut in Washington. "'When we got big enough to go to school,' said Lomski, 'then we found plenty of excitement. We were the only Jewish boys in the whole city, and maybe the others didn't ride us. They ganged us every day, and we had a time while we were there.' "By dint of boyish dukes and fighting blood, the Lomskis held down the fort. Leo went to high school and played both footblal and baseball. "'I was a darn good tackle,' laughed Leo, 'even if I say so myself. I also played third base. I liked baseball better than football and I'm not such a slouch on a diamond even now.' "Lomski did not wait to be graduated from high school. "'I was just like the old man, he confessed, 'wanted to be going all the time. My mother wanted me to stay home, but I joined the navy and thought I would see the world. I also saw more fighting than there was in the Spanish-American war. Why? "'Because the skipper of our ship always wanted his boys scrapping. It was in the navy that I was hit harder than I was ever hit in my life, before or since. We were on shore leave and the captain of the platoon told me to do something. "'I was on leave and I told him to go to the devil. Boy, he let fly with a right-hand sock. I threw up my shoulder to protect my jaw and he hit me on the shoulder. He stunned me for a minute -- the toughest smack I ever got. "'I put down my head,' smiled Leo, 'and tore into him, knocked him down and walked all over him. He never hit anybody after that; he was as gentle as a lamb.' "Lomski recited how this adventure ashore was learned by his skipper and how the captain prevailed upon him to start fighting. "'I went into the navy tournaments and knocked out three fellows in a row. The fellows always laid their money down on me and we made big winnings. "'Then my term of enlistment was up and I returned to Aberdeen. I needed work, so I went into the woods and used an ax and it strengthened my muscles and built me up. I had all the fight I wanted with the lumberjacks there and finally the foreman got me to learn how to box.' "Lomski was a battler and he soon fought so long as an amateur that he had a trunk filled with medals and other truck that looked nice when won but soon turned into a deep olive. "'Huh,' said the boy as he surveyed these trophies one day. 'Everything is green, now, so I guess I might as well continue along that way. But the long green is the only green that I'll bother with after this.' "It was. he became attached one Eddie Ecker (sic), a boy from Aberdeen, and he made him his manager. They have traveled together, quiet, modest and unassuming. "Ecker expects to be managing the light-heavyweight champion of the world a few days after the new year. Lomski is matched to fight Tommy Loughran, light-heavyweight champion, in Madison Square Garden, January 6."
(ED. NOTE -- The following column excerpt, part of a review of a book entitled "The River Pioneers: Early Days on Grays Harbor," by Edwin Van Syckle, discusses Leo Lomski in passing.) HARBOR LIGHTS: LOMSKI PART OF SAGA (Seattle Times, Tuesday, March 23, 1982) By Vince O'Keefe . . . Middling-old readers will recognize such names as Ted Krache, Leo Lomski and Frank "Indian Pete" Pickernell. Krache was a middleweight of the 1920s who fought memorable battles with Dode Bercot in Seattle (both of these remarkable warriors were still alive, the last time we checked). Lomski made a solid reputation, not just in the Northwest but throughout the boxing world. As this book relates, he came to Aberdeen out of the North Idaho country in 1923, fighting as a middleweight. It wasn't long before he moved up to the big time, dubbed the "Aberdeen Assassin." By this time he was a light heavyweight, and barely lost a world title bout with the champion, Tommy Loughran. Lomski fought all over the world and lost only 20 of 150 recorded bouts. His purses totaled more than $300,000, a figure which would be in the millions by today's dollar value. He died in Grayland in 1979. (ED. NOTE -- Readers of The BAWLI Papers No. 46 may recall that the editor had "guessed" Lomski's date of death to be closer to 1990. Our only defense to a foggy memory is that time flies when you are having fun. We are, at least, more correct with regard to the Lomski ring record. Even our incomplete tally, which showed 111 fights between 1923 and 1936, of which Lomski lost at least 24.)