Text by Mike Waters of The Syracuse Post Standard
They called him the Golden Boy and his fights regularly sold out arenas from Syracuse's War Memorial to New York City's Madison Square Garden. In a career that spanned the 1940s and '50s, Joey DeJohn thrilled audiences with his penchant for the knockout - or getting knocked out. Armed with a devastating left hook, DeJohn fashioned a record of 74-14-2 with 52 victories by knockout. Of his 14 career losses, 10 were by knockout.
DeJohn, born Joey DiGianni, was the most exciting boxer the city of Syracuse has ever produced and one of the famed boxing DeJohns brothers. He racked up 31 fights in 1947, winning 29. He went 16-0 in 1948 winning on knockout 11 times. DeJohn drew a record crowd of 11,700 to Syracuse's old MacArthur Stadium for his 1949 fight with Lee Sala. His 1952 match with champion-to-be Robert Villemain at the War Memorial sold out in four hours.
On February 25, 1949, DeJohn fought Pete Mead in the headline event at Madison Square Garden. DeJohn knocked Mead down twice- in rounds three and five - but Mead stopped DeJohn in the seventh. Over 50 years later, Ring Magazine rated the DeJohn-Mead fight as one of the 10 best at Madison Square Garden. On May 18, 1949, DeJohn took on Jake LaMotta in a wild eight-round fight at the New York State Fairgrounds Coliseum. DeJohn went toe-to-toe with The Raging Bull. In the eighth round, LaMotta knocked DeJohn down three times, forcing stoppage of the fight.
1945-1955: Fought 90 bouts, won 74 with 52 knockouts, lost 14 with 2 draws; Fought mostly as a middleweight, tremendous energy, hard hitter and devastating puncher. Most of DeJohn’s fights were at New York State Fairgrounds Coliseum, MacArthur Stadium and Onondaga County War Memorial
1947: Fought an incredible 30 fights that year
1948: Fought and won 16 bouts with 11 by KO
1949: Fought Pete Mead at Madison Square Garden on TV, broke Mead’s nose, opened three-inch gash over Mead’s eye but lost fight to Mead’s right hook, KO in 7th round. Redeemed himself in Rochester rematch by knocking out Mead in the seventh
1950-1955: A highly ranked middleweight, DeJohn fought the best including champion-to-be Robert Villemain to whom he lost by KO in the ninth
2000: Inducted into the Syracuse Urban Sports Hall of Fame with the rest of the DeJohn brothers - John, Lou, Tommy, Mike, Carmen and Ralph