Thomas Enrico Lauria, who was also known by his boxing name Tommy Ricco, was born on April 19, 1917, in Camden, New Jersey. He was the son of Francesco “Frank” Lauria and Angelina Siria. His father immigrated to America in 1909 from Italy and brought his mother, older brother Anthony, and sister Rose over in 1911. The family settled, according to Camden City Directories from 1913 through 1918, at 817 Dauphin Street, but by January of 1920, they had moved to 307 Line Street in South Camden. Four more children, Anne, Irene, Florence, and Vincent, were born in the 1920s. Sadly, Francesco Lauria passed away in 1931 at a young age.
Thomas Lauria became a professional boxer in the 1930s and 1940s under the name of Tommy Ricco. He began his professional career by winning ten out of his first eleven fights, with the exception of a draw against Pete Kelly on August 5, 1937, in Camden. Unfortunately, Lauria broke his hand during a fight in Baltimore, and his career never fully recovered. Despite continuing to box in Baltimore and Washington, he lost twelve of his next eighteen fights.
Lauria’s trip to Florida in the summer of 1939 was perhaps the highlight of his boxing career, where he fought three veteran boxers, Red Hutchins, Chino Alvarez, and Justo Jimenez. He scored a TKO against Hutchins, lost a split decision to Alvarez, and lost to Jimenez on points. Lauria fought six times in 1940 in the Baltimore and Washington area, then retired from boxing.
After serving in the United States Army, Lauria returned to Camden, where he lived with his wife Ida and sons Frank and Thomas. He worked for the city’s Highway Department in the 1950’s and 1960’s and supplemented his income by working as a numbers writer in the early 1950’s. Unfortunately, working as a numbers writer got him arrested in February of 1952, resulting in a short jail sentence.
Thomas Lauria passed away from a heart attack at the age of 42 in 1960, and his younger brother Vincent Lauria passed away from heart-related problems on February 24, 1974, at the age of 53. It’s worth noting that their father also died before the age of 50, suggesting a possible genetic predisposition to heart issues. Vince “Duke” Lauria, Thomas’s younger brother, boxed as an amateur and became an AAU Diamond Belt champion before serving in the United States Army. He returned to Camden and boxing in 1945, going undefeated in 22 known fights before retiring in 1947.
Thomas Enrico Lauria, also known as Tony Ricco, was a professional boxer from Camden, NJ who fought in the 1930s and early 1940s.
Camden has had its ups and downs in the boxing game, but probably reached its peak so far as performers are concerned when bouts were held at the Haddon Avenue Armory during 1919-20.
Past and Present South Jersey Boxers Go Through Paces in Charity Show
Present and past greats of Camden boxing will do their all for charity tomorrow night, when they appear on a card sponsored by the United Democratic Clubs of Camden at the Camden Convention Hall.
Camden – Billy Ketchell, 181, Millville, and Jersey Joe Walcott, 180, Merchantville, battled to a 10-round draw in the windup bout of a boxing show here last night. In the semi-final, Joe Allen, 135, Camden, took the decision over Johnny Toomey, 136, Newark, in eight rounds. Joey Straiges, Camden lightweight, scored a three-round technical knockout…
South Jersey fight fans still are at odds over the superiority of their “Jersey Joe” Walcott, the Merchantville “Brown Bomber,” and the veteran Billy Ketchell, of Millville, tangled at the Pennsauken Open Air Arena last night and engaged in a 10-round draw.