Tommy Farr

Tommy Farr
Real name Tommy Farr
Rated at Heavyweight
Nationality British
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 a British boxer from Clydach Vale, Wales, nicknamed "the Tonypandy Terror". Prior to 1936, he had boxed in the light heavyweight division, in which he was the Welsh champion, he became British and Empire heavyweight champion on 15 March 1937. He challenged for the world title against Joe Louis in the same year and gave Louis one of the toughest fights of his career, hurting him numerous times and lasting the full 15 rounds on his way to a wide unanimous decision loss, which was booed by spectators. Farr is considered to be one of the greatest British heavyweight fighters ever.[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 the 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 United Kingdom Don Cockell TKO 7 (12) 1953-03-09 United Kingdom Ice Rink, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
Loss United States Lloyd Marshall PTS 10 1950-12-04 United Kingdom Market Hall, Carmarthen
Win Canada Larry Gains TKO 6 (10) 1939-05-17 United Kingdom Ninian Park, Cardiff
Win United States Red Burman PTS 10 1939-04-13 United Kingdom Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Loss United States Red Burman PTS 10 1939-01-13 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Loss United States Lou Nova PTS 15 1938-12-16 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Loss United States Max Baer UD 15 1938-03-11 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Loss United States James J. Braddock SD 10 1938-01-21 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Loss United States Joe Louis UD 15 1937-08-30 United States Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York For World Heavyweight Title.
1937 Fight of the Year by The Ring Magazine.
Win Nazi Germany Walter Neusel KO 3 (12) 1937-06-15 United Kingdom Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win United States Max Baer PTS 12 1937-04-15 United Kingdom Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win South Africa Ben Foord PTS 15 1937-03-15 United Kingdom Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win United States Bob Olin PTS 10 1936-04-02 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London
Win United States Tommy Loughran PTS 10 1936-01-15 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London
Win United Kingdom Frank Moody KO 4 (12) 1935-12-21 United Kingdom Greyfriars Hall, Cardiff
Draw United Kingdom Frank Moody PTS 15 1935-08-14 United Kingdom White City, Cardiff
Win Canada Del Fontaine PTS 12 1934-09-03 United Kingdom 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.


External links

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