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Tommy Farr

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Tommy Farr

Tommy Farr
Real name Tommy Farr
Rated at Heavyweight
Nationality Welsh
Born (1913-03-12)12 March 1913
Clydach Vale, Rhondda, Wales
Died 1 March 1986(1986-03-01) (aged 72)
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 137
Wins 84
Wins by KO 24
Losses 34
Draws 17
No contests 2

Thomas George Farr (12 March 1913 – 1 March 1986) was one of the most famous Welsh and British boxers. Born in Clydach Vale, Wales and nicknamed "the Tonypandy Terror", he became British and Empire heavyweight champion on 15 March 1937. Prior to 1936, he had boxed in the light heavyweight division, in which he was the Welsh champion. He is considered one of the greatest British heavyweight fighters.[1] Farr was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

World title fight vs Joe Louis

On 30 August 1937, Farr fought world heavyweight champion Joe Louis at the height of his career at Yankee Stadium, New York City; he gained respect despite losing a controversial points decision after 15 rounds. Louis, one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, had knocked out 8 of his previous 9 opponents and proceeded to knock out his next 7, but was fearlessly attacked and hurt by Farr. The 50,000 crowd booed when Louis was awarded a narrow points decision[2][3][4] after referee Arthur Donovan, Sr. had seemingly raised Farr's glove in victory. Seven years later, in his published account of the fight, Donovan apologised for the 'mistake'.[5]

Later career

After the Louis fight, Farr was unsuccessful in several contests at Madison Square Garden, New York. These included a ten-round fight on 21 January 1938, against former heavyweight champion James J. Braddock, "the Cinderella Man".[6][7] Farr returned to the UK early in 1939, enjoying a run of victories that year. He retired in 1940, but personal tragedies saw him lose his fortune and he ended up bankrupt, having to return to the ring at the age of 36 to make a living. Farr later ran a pub in Brighton, Sussex after retiring, and died on St. David's Day, 1986, aged 72.

Musical Contender

A musical based on Farr's career, Contender, was composed by Mal Pope and premiered at the United Nations building in New York, followed by a season at Swansea's Grand Theatre.[8] A theme of the musical is that Farr's lack of success in the USA resulted wholly from his refusal to co-operate with fight-fixing mobsters and bookmakers.

Notable bouts

Result Opponent Type Rd., Time Date Location Notes[9]
Loss Don Cockell TKO 7 (12) 1953-03-09 Ice Rink, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
Loss Lloyd Marshall PTS 10 1950-12-04 Market Hall, Carmarthen
Win Larry Gains TKO 6 (10) 1939-05-17 Ninian Park, Cardiff
Win Red Burman PTS 10 1939-04-13 Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Loss Red Burman PTS 10 1939-01-13 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Loss Lou Nova PTS 15 1938-12-16 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Loss Max Baer UD 15 1938-03-11 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Loss James J. Braddock SD 10 1938-01-21 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Loss Joe Louis UD 15 1937-08-30 Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York For World Heavyweight Title.
1937 Fight of the Year by The Ring Magazine.
Win Walter Neusel KO 3 (12) 1937-06-15 Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win Max Baer PTS 12 1937-04-15 Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win Ben Foord PTS 15 1937-03-15 Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win Bob Olin PTS 10 1936-04-02 Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London
Win Tommy Loughran PTS 10 1936-01-15 Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London
Win Frank Moody KO 4 (12) 1935-12-21 Greyfriars Hall, Cardiff
Draw Frank Moody PTS 15 1935-08-14 White City, Cardiff
Win Del Fontaine PTS 12 1934-09-03 Mannesmann Hall, Swansea


  1. ^ "Boxing legend Sir Henry Cooper dies aged 76". BBC Sport. 1 May 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Crowd Yells Fury as Louis Gets the Verdict Daily News (Perth, Western Australia), 31 August 1937, at Trove
  3. ^ "After collecting the judges' votes, referee Arthur Donovan announced that Louis had won the fight on points. The crowd of 50,000 . . . amazed that Farr had not been knocked out or even knocked down, booed the decision. . . Speaking over the radio after the fight, Louis admitted that he had been hurt twice." Sport: Louis v Farr Time Magazine, 6 Sept 1937. (Paid subscription required)
  4. ^ An authentic radio commentary on the fight's end is included in Mal Pope's soundtrack of The Main Event, from his musical Contender, highlighting the belief of commentator and audience that Farr was the real winner.
  5. ^ Donovan's Worst Mistake As a Referee The Mail, Adelaide, at Trove digitised newspapers, National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ James J. Braddock official site
  7. ^ An abridged video of the 21 January 1938, fight at Madison Square Garden on YouTube
  8. ^ Boxing musical given UN audience BBC News, Wales, 26 Feb 2007
  9. ^ Tommy Farr's Professional Boxing Record. Retrieved on 2014-05-18.


  • Lonkhurst, Bob Man of Courage: The Life and Career of Tommy Farr Book Guild 1997, ISBN 1-85776-167-7. 250 pp.
  • Myler P Ring of Hate: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling: The Fight of the Century Arcade Publishing (2005) This source contains a detailed report of Louis's fight with Tommy Farr, at page 113.

External links

  • Fight record of Tommy Farr
  • The lineage of Thomas George Farr, 1913-1986
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