A piece of Lawrence’s legendary boxing history is now on display at Pizza King.
Christine F. Lewis of Andover came up with the idea for the exhibit when she saw a photograph of Andy Callahan, a World War II hero who was also a boxer. But when she went looking for more information about him, she came up empty-handed.
”When I started doing research, I didn’t realize Lawrence had this important boxing history,” she said.
Lewis approached John Sapienza, the owner of Pizza King, who was more than happy to lend his newly renovated walls for the exhibit.
”I thought, ‘Why not boxing?’ ‘Why not a show that shows another part of the city’s history?” Sapienza said. “I’m very happy we did it because I’ve learned about the city and its history.”
Lewis has been researching the history of boxing in Lawrence for the past five years. She said Lawrence’s boxing heydays were from the 1920s to the 1960s, although the sport took a big hit during the Depression.
The 19-panel exhibit spans two of Pizza King’s walls at 29 Salem St.
It includes black and white photographs of boxers Henry “Bud” Janco, who trained in the US Navy. In 1927, Janco won the U.S. Scout Fleet Featherweight Champion.
Also included are brothers Angie, Michael and Danny Tardugno, who were the most famous boxing family in Lawrence. Michael won a NCAA scholarship to both Georgetown and Columbia and became a lawyer after his years as a boxer. In 1933, Angie won the Bantamweight National Championship and Danny also became a professional.
Other parts of the exhibit include those of promoters like Billy Bell and Josiah “Cy” Brown; boxing licenses, featuring the name, ethnicity, occupation of each boxer.
There is also an aerial photograph of a boxing match at O’Sullivan Park that attracted 12,000 fans; tile coasters of Mike Surkis, with his biography on the back and newspaper articles on the possible legalization of bookies in 1937 as well as the Turdugno brothers. One panel shows the Morris’ Blacksmith Shop at 15 Broadway, where the World Lightweight title fight took place in 1887.