By Dora Lurie
Philadelphia Inquirer, 1938
Three years ago his older brother taunted him about being a "scaredy-cat".
That's the reason Bill Speary, 19-year-old West Nanticoke, Pa., youth holds the 112-pound championship after retaining his crown in the Inquirer AA Diamond Belt boxing finale Thursday night at the arena.
Well, if you are only a 16-year-old skinny kid of weighed about 100 pounds, you
too, would have resented an older and heavier brother pounding the tar out of you.
Every time brother Wesley Speary, also an amateur boxer, tagged Bill the younger boy would duck to a corner or hide his face between his hands.
Bill Speary didn't relish the likes of his brothers punishment and put on the whining act until the older boys said,
IN THE BEGINNING
"That was too much for me, so I walked right into his punches and took a good beating. But it was the best thing that happened to me. From then on I made up my mind to become a boxer," said Flyweight Speary as he related his baptismal experiences.
Fortunately for Bill, Arthur Thomas moved to Nanticoke, across the river, about three years ago and thus began an alliance that has clicked both ways. Thomas works in the coal mines and his spare moments are spent developing young amateur boxers. Thomas took Bill Speary in hand and they join the Tamaqua K. of C., haven for amateur aspirants in the coal district.
But Tamaqua is 40 miles from West Nanticoke, so Thomas and Bill Speary make for their town fire house every night, and there in the glowing warmth of the engine room do some boxing.
Training a serious business for Bill Speary. Coach Thomas absolutely frowns on road work, so that leaves plenty to be done with punching bag, sandbag and skipping rope. Dark, curly-haired Speary, about 5 ft. 7 inches in height, sports a deflated nose as a momento of sparring with Dick Powell, his
"Aw, they can fix that nose someday. There's nothing else wrong with my looks," assured Speary, whose only fear is maybe losing a tooth or two; he wouldn't like that much.
The youngster is really a diamond in the rough. Almost in his very backyard are coal mines, but Speary has never been in one and does not want to have any inside knowledge of one. His father is a miner, and Papa Speary laid down the law that none of his sons will follow his footsteps.
Speary has waged about 100 fights and lost only 8. He has avenged all but two of those losses and half of his victories have been over the knockout route. He's not been beaten by an American since his discovery in Inquirer AA bouts last year, and went on to win the national and Golden Gloves titles. In the international match the 112-pound Italian--whose name he can't even spell, pronounce or remember--won the decision last spring.
TWO LEFT FEET
The youth is girl-shy at the moment. Agile on his feet, he was asked whether dancing was one of his accomplishments. "No, I got two left feet," he retorted.
The youngster doesn't give a hoot about making money. In fact he would like to represent Uncle Sam in the 1940 Olympics. His three older brothers, three older sisters and parents are willing to see him through, so Speary can go the limit.
Of course, Speary may take on weight, and one day he wants to be a star in the 126-pound class. We will probably hear about him in the professional ranks, because they say there isn't a classier 112-pound fighter, either amateur or professional, who can hold a candle to Bill Speary, of West Nanticoke, Pa.