South Philly’s Sonny Conto Turning Blue Collar Fiction to Reality

The 23-year-old Italian-American heavyweight boxer won his first three pro fights by knockout over just four rounds.

Sonny Conto, a genuine and upbeat 23-year-old boxer from S. 9th Street, is setting himself apart in a sport too often defined by flashy promotions and over-the-top personalities.

An Italian-American who picked up boxing gloves at age 10, Conto is beloved in his South Philly neighborhood and humbled by the family and fans who roar from beside the ring when he throws right-handed, sledgehammer punches.

“The Bronco,” as he’s sometimes called, went pro in the heavyweight circuit earlier this year and won his first three fights by knockout over just four rounds.

He stands at 6-feet-4-inches tall and weighs 215 lbs., but he’s lean and agile with the kind of scrappy style that can absorb and unleash punishing blows.

See for yourself:

Conto (4-0) claimed his first victory at Philly’s 2300 Arena when ne offered Jimmie Levins a hard-knock goodbye, and he won his latest fight on Aug. 10 against Guillermo Del Rio at the Liacouras Center.

Conto, a one time college baseball pitcher — who put some new leather on his hand and became a Golden Gloves fighter — is now adopting various styles to keep contenders at bay.

“I have different tools,” Conto said in The Fight City. “I feel like I can be Holyfield and come forward, or be mobile like Muhammad Ali and use my footwork and reach and speed. Moving up the ranks I’ll have to utilize all the tools.”

A Real-life Rocky

The up-and-coming pugilist runs down the very same streets Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa did in the Oscar-winning 1976 film.

He’s trained by his father, Frank Conto, and the pair spends most of the time at a car shop — Mickey’s Auto Repair on Chadwick Street —which doubles as a boxing gym.

As fiction turns into reality, Conto seems ready for the next round and is in the beginning stages of becoming the world’s next prime-time boxer.

He tells journalists he’s the real Rocky, a down-to-earth fighter who is ready to become a champion.

“Sonny Conto is a breath of fresh air. If I could have him on every single show, I would…He’s got a heavyweight personality and he’s got a devoted group — not just his family, but people, fans [and] a following — [many who are] mostly new to boxing. That’s good for the sport, a new, young fan. We need that.”

– Philly fight promoting legend Russell Peltz told Philadelphia Weekly

Conto’s next fight will be announced in the coming weeks.

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