Bobby Leitham vs. Pete Sanstol (1st meeting)

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Pete Sanstol 116 lbs beat Bobby Leitham 118 lbs by UD in round 10 of 10

  • Date: 1931-03-23
  • Location: St. Denis Theatre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • According to later Montreal newspaper accounts, this was the bout that created a much-debated and historic Canadian boxing trilogy between future Canadian Bantamweight Champion Bobby Leitham and future World Bantamweight Champion Pete Sanstol.

    From Montreal's The Gazette:

    Fighters Will Weigh-in This Morning
    for Battle at St. Denis Theatre

    With the weighing-in this afternoon of the fighters concerned, all will be set for tonight's battle at the St. Denis in which Pete Sanstol meets the last local remaining threat to his bantamweight supremacy. The flashy Norseman, rated a championship contender in official ring circles, is pitting his sturdy strength and boundless endurance against Bobby Leitham, flashy Verdun fighter, who has been claiming the Canadian title after having trounced the nominal title-holder, Joe Villeneuve, at title weight.

    Sanstol will enter the ring a pronounced favorite. Week-end developments indicated this unmistakably and many wagers were made that Leitham would not last the route. Such a performance is based upon the fact that Sanstol rather easily disposed of clever Harry Hill, who had held Leitham to a draw and that he has knocked out Phil Tobias, a high-ranking flyweight, within the past few weeks, and beaten Freddie Anselem [sic][actually , this was Frankie (Kid) Anselm]. Pointing now for a world's title match here in July against Al Brown, the recognized champion of the bantam division, Sanstol plans to win as quickly and as impressively as possible against Leitham, providing he can win at all. Leitham, on the other hand, has unbounded confidence. At the peak of physical perfection after three weeks of earnest training, the Verdun lad promises to meet speed with speed, and believes his fine condition will enable him to weather the early attack the dynamic blonde is sure to launch, and carry him along at a faster clip at the finish when Sanstol tires from his own efforts. There will be little difference in the weights of the two boxers, both weighing in well under the 118 pound mark.

    Triumphs in Clean-Cut Main Bout Before Capacity Crowd at St. Denis Theatre

    by Francis L. Lloyd

    Failing to show the class necessary to outfight and outpunish the diminutive Norwegian dynamo, Bobby Leitham, one of Montreal's bantamweight prides, carried the battle to Sanstol in a fair share of ten rounds in their bout at the St. Denis Theatre last night, but lost the decision to the sturdier, up-and-coming Pete Sanstol, who was forced to expend his energies in what proved a fine clash to win a decision before 3,700 delighted fans.

    Before the redoubtable Norseman lies a promising future, last night's stirring session with the Flying Scot opening the door to greater ring honors. It is an interesting fact that both boys, the fair-haired Sanstol, and the dark Leitham, if not wholly products of this clime, find in Montreal a happy home although they were born across the water, Sanstol in Norway and Leitham in Scotland.

    Leitham was the first to make overtures, rushing from the bell, and struck the first blow, a right to the body. That made the diminutive dynamo dance, and from then on it was a merry seige. Of the six rounds that were undoubtably Sanstol's, there was not one that was not well earned. Four rounds went to Leitham through his aggressive, self-assertive manner. He actually landed blows that many another bantam would have envied, and his shifty way of dodging threatening uppercuts that are Sanstol's pride made it possible for him to stay in the ring ten rounds with the Norwegian.

    Sanstol danced into the ring in a purple dressing gown, his ruddy face set off with a piece of tape over his left eye. It was at this that Leitham aimed his attack and eventually loosened the plaster.


    After a cagey first round, Sanstol let out but little in the second go, jabbing continually at Leitham's nose, and was soon drawing blood. It was in the second round that Leitham landed a pair of punches over the ear and showed that he meant business.

    In the third session, Bobby Leitham was carrying the fight into Sanstol's camp, but did little in the clinches that frequently occurred, while Sanstol attempted uppercuts frequently, but the Flying Scot craftily avoided contact. The next round found Bobby bearing up manfully, but little the worse for punishment that was certainly coming his way. He was slowed down, however, by a long left jab, followed quickly by a right cross.

    As uppercuts again threatened, Leitham emulated the ostrich, almost standing on his chin to protect that precious area, while Sanstol almost went to a crouch trying to bring his punches up, and finally gave up for want of breath.

    Just before the Bell, Leitham landed another heavy right over Sanstol's ear, but as the gong sounded Sanstol pulled up from his crouching position and winked. It was a broad, obvious wink aimed jointly at Leitham and at the crowd, not unpartisan.

    Sanstol made the fifth round a fast whirl, and regained what looked to many like a slipping lead through vicious jabs and effective in-fighting. He was now a veritable dynamo, moiling about the ring and forcing Leitham to a quick tempo. But the little Scot took his share, returning enough to make the chances of his staying in the ring for the other five rounds about even.


    A fast, snapping right from Sanstol nearly toppled the Flying Scot as the sixth opened, but Bobby came back with a stinging rap on the nose and pegged away at the court plaster over the Norwegian's nose. Sanstol was shady, and missed many of his blows, counting mostly on stiff body punches.

    With a decisive seventh round, Pete Sanstol showed his dominance. Both fighters seemed to change their style and both were fresh at the end of the seventh grind. Sanstol counted again and again on body blows and Leitham only escaped dangerous blows by never coming up the same way twice, for although he doubled up frequently, dodging flying fists and imminent uppercuts, he had a new trick every time in coming to full height, and every new trick was bewildering for the moment.

    As the boxers tired in the eighth, Sanstol's two-fisted style counted more and more and in the ninth the little Norwegian had him running. Bobby could make but small shift and was taking severe punishment from the bruising, low-swinging blows, interspersed with a hard smack on the head and a skimming uppercut. The round was decisively Pete's.

    In the tenth, Pete Sanstol was fully warmed up, and complete master of the ring. He had Leitham in his own corner, down low in the ropes three times, and was thrashing him from side to side. Despite the roughing, however, Leitham weathered well, but was little better than helpless.

    • Leitham had been ranked among the world's 10-best bantamweights of 1931-33 by The Ring magazine. See here.
    • Future actor William Shatner, best-known as the character of Captain James T. Kirk of the American television series "Star Trek," had been born in Montreal the day-before this bout. [1]