Tony DeMarco was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, in 2019. The honor came after a storied 71-fight career that captured the hearts of boxing fans around the world. The former World Welterweight Champion, who fought professionally from 1948 to 1962, was born Leonardo Liotta to Sicilian immigrant parents on January 14, 1932. He grew up in the North End neighborhood of Boston.
Liotta turned professional as a boxer in 1948, at the age of 16, which was under the minimum age of 18 required by the state of Massachusetts. To circumvent the law, he used the birth certificate of a friend, Tony DeMarco, thus establishing a boxing alias he would use throughout his career.
Over the course of his long career, DeMarco, known as the Boston Bomber, fought several top contenders and champions. The high point of his career came on April 1, 1955, when he defeated Johnny Saxton by technical knockout in the 14th round of a scheduled 15-round fight for the World Welterweight Title. He held this title until later that year when, on June 10, fellow future hall of famer Carmen Basilio, defeated him. The Boston Bomber retired from boxing in 1962 with an impressive record of 58 wins, 12 losses, and one draw, with 33 knockouts.
In hopes that the dry desert air would help to relieve his son Vincent’s asthma, DeMarco moved to Phoenix in 1963. In 1968, he opened Tony DeMarco’s Living Room at 4007 E. Camelback Road in Phoenix. The piano bar and lounge—“Where Good People Meet”—became a popular hangout for transplanted Bostonians and locals alike. Tony DeMarco’s Living Room, which featured nightly live music was adorned with pictures of DeMarco’s biggest fights, photos of him with various celebrities, and his championship belt. In 1975, tragedy struck, when DeMarco’s 14-year-old son was hit by a car and killed. Around the same time, business was down due to nearby development and road construction that made it difficult for patrons to get to the lounge. DeMarco and his family decided to sell the business and return to Boston in 1982.
The building that housed Tony DeMarco’s Living Room is now owned by a U-Haul business. Despite the change, DeMarco is still present, in a large mural and commemorative plaque, which were placed on the west-facing wall by the current owner. DeMarco is also honored in his hometown of Boston with a street named after him, Tony DeMarco Way, and a statue.