Native son: South Philadelphia’s first Italian-American heavyweight contender is not a myth

Jul 03, 2019 435

Long before Sonny Conto made his professional heavyweight boxing debut at 2300 Arena by pounding Jimmie Levins until the ref stopped the fight in the first round, “Sonny from S. 9th Street” was just a well-known guy from the neighborhood. Like a hyped rap act with posters announcing its first mixtape or a young punk band hustling DIY stickers, the six foot-four inch Conto, 23, who weighs between 214 and 220 pounds, was renowned as a two-time Pennsylvania Golden Gloves champion before he went pro. 

Now, he’s better known as a guy who won his first three pro fights within minutes. His status as a legend is quickly burgeoning. He’s a cheerful, focused fighter trained by his father since childhood, working out in a beloved local gym that doubles as a mechanics garage, born to a mom who has engulfed the family’s neighborhood in posters and t-shirts. All of which gives Conto extra oomph. 

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