Mr. Philly Boxing History John DiSanto Leads By Example! By Ken Hissner (Dec 18, 2009) DoghouseBoxing
Anything that is happening in Philadelphia boxing, John DiSanto usually knows about it. He is a man of many hats and if it’s an event to honor someone, he is usually one of the people behind it. He is rarely in the forefront having no ego to be fed.
There was a time DiSanto lived in center city but has since moved to Mantua, New Jersey. He is a South Jersey marketing and financial consultant. “I lived in center city for a period of time and was able to connect with more than I do now, but I am not that far from the city,” said DiSanto.
One of the first places I remember meeting DiSanto was at a VBA Ring One meeting in the Port Richmond area of the city. It is the oldest veteran boxers association in the country. He has helped bring attention to those who vote in the Hall of Fame boxers about some of the worthy but sometimes forgotten boxers. I remember the day he brought Curtis Parker, former middleweight contender, in to join the club. Parker is a well respected person and the kind of person the group needs to grow. He has since become an inductee to the PA HOF and adds his input at meetings.
DiSanto is 47 going on 67 in boxing history and is supported in this endeavor by his lovely wife Jennifer at various events. One would be the Giardello Project that is honoring the late world middleweight champion from South Philly, Joey Giardello. In an upper room where the Ring One meets, the world renowned artist Carl LaVotch is creating a life size statue of the former champion. When finished it will be taken to a foundry, where the full-sized complete bronze statue will be cast. That complete statue will be transported to the triangular site on East Passyunk, South 13th Street and Mifflin and installed near the Passyunk Gym where Giardello trained. There is a chance it could end up on Broad Street. The project is being managed by Ring One, the Harrowgate Boxing Club and Philly Boxing History while this project is a non-profit effort and all the funds for the project are coming from donations and sponsorships.
“The most important thing to me is that the great history of boxing in Philadelphia especially the fighters are remembered, documented and honored as much as possible. I try to do exactly that with my efforts, because they really deserve it”, said DiSanto.
DiSanto is well known throughout this part of the country for his Gravestone Program. He has supplied gravestones for such Philly fighters as Tyrone Everett (2005), “Gypsy” Joe Harris (2006), Garnett “Sugar” Hart (2007) and Eddie Cool (2008). Relatives were contacted in most cases and DiSanto would hold a ceremony at the grave site.
Since 1994 DiSanto has had the idea of “the Bennie” which is a replica of Briscoe in statue form. During the induction of “Bad” Bennie Briscoe into the PA HOF DiSanto had the original statue on display. The former light heavyweight champion Harold Johnson received an honorary one at the 2008 PA HOF dinner. Recently at the second Briscoe Award Event Philly fighter of the year Bernard Hopkins and Fight of the Year participants Jameel Wilson and Gee Cullmer received a “Bennie” while the top amateur Joey Dawejko received the “Everett Brothers Award” from the Everett brothers, Mike and Eddie.
Di Santo is a selfless individual who takes pictures but you would have to search far and wide to find him in one. Like possibly the local post office. I’m just kidding. He can be seen covering fights in Philadelphia and Atlantic City. He is an organizer that makes things happen and not one to be sitting around dwelling on an idea.
If you go to DiSanto’s website www.phillyboxinghistory.com you will get a world of history on Philly fighters and events such as amateur title winners, nicknames, list of boxers, relics, Hall of Fame for PA and IHOF, arenas, KO streaks, birthdays, deaths, Ring prospects, Philly champs, fights, gyms, archive service, attendance and the list goes on. Even a special section of articles by Historian Chuck Hasson is provided. I have to warn you, once you get on this site you may have a problem getting off of it. firstname.lastname@example.org is the contact address for anything connected to Philly boxing. In an era where so many past fighters are forgotten DiSanto keeps them alive at all times!