Better look out for that left hook! After years of planning, a bronze statue of former world welterweight champion Tony DeMarco will be unveiled this weekend in the North End.
The statue, designed by Harry Weber, who also sculpted TD Garden’s Bobby Orr statue, has been installed in front of the Mother Anna’s restaurant at the corner of Hanover and Cross streets, said Philip Privitera, a long-time DeMarco friend and president of the Privitera Family Charitable Foundation.
DeMarco, 80, who grew up and still lives in the North End, will attend the unveiling, which will be part of the local Italian Heritage Month celebrations at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“I’m still jumping up and down,” DeMarco said. “It’s very exciting.”
The sculpture was funded by the Privitera family and the project was spearheaded by Bill Spadafora of the Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame. DeMarco was inducted into the hall in 1981.
“We’ve been trying for years to get this statue for Tony,” Privitera said. “It’s been in the making for a long time.”
DeMarco, born Leonardo Liotta, began his boxing career at 15 by using the birth certificate of his friend, Tony DeMarco, since he was three years too young to obtain an amateur boxing license. Turning pro at 16 with his knockout of Meteor Jones, the Boston Bomber (also known as The Flame and Fury of Fleet Street) was born.
DeMarco was classified as a welterweight — slightly heavier than a lightweight but lighter than a middleweight. In 1955, DeMarco took the world welterweight title in a fight against Johnny Saxton at the Boston Garden. He detailed his 14-year career in an autobiography, “Nardo: Memoir of a Boxing Champion,’’ released last year.
“I was good at it. There was prestige, glory, the glamour of it all. And the recognition,” said DeMarco, who retired in 1962 with a 58-12-1record. “I was on top, I won my fights. When you get tired of strict training and discipline, it’s time to retire. And that I did.”
Although DeMarco says he enjoyed the recognition, his wife, Dorothy McGarry-Liotta, said the fame never went to his head.
“He’s a very humble man,” she said. “He’s really, truly grateful that he has the ability to celebrate it. This is something that generations after usually see, not him.”Sarah N. Mattero can be reached at email@example.com.
Correction: Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this story misstated Tony DeMarco’s opponent when he won the 1955 world welterweight title. DeMarco defeated Johnny Saxton.