JOE MORAN was born Joseph Borsa in New York on September 8, 1900 to Italian immigrants Benjamin and Mary Borsa. He was the second of seven children, his older sister Celesta being born in 1898. He was followed by Rudolfo in 1903, Victoria in 1906, Elvira in 1909, Anthony in 1912 and Rita in 1922. The family moved to Philadelphia shortly after Elvira was born. The 1910 Census shows the Borsa family living in the 1200 block of Catherine Street in South Philadelphia.

Growing up in South Philadelphia like many other boys of his era, he took up boxing. A talented lightweight, his first professional fight came in 1916. He boxed under his own name, as Joe Barsa, Joe Borso and Joe Borse, but was best known as Joe Moran. 

When America entered World War I in April of 1917 he enlisted, but was discharged when his mother revealed that he was underage. When he was 19 he reenlisted and served with the American occupation forces in Germany in 1919 and 1920. While there he won the lightweight title in the boxing tournament the Army held in 1920.

Returning to the Camden-Philadelphia are, he went back into the ring. His last professional fight was in 1922. Joe Moran promoted six boxing shows in the 1920s at the Penn-Jersey Athletic Club at South 3rd Street and Kaighn Avenue, and stayed in touch with his many friends in the local boxing community throughout his life. He was a life member of Camden's Ring No. 6  of the Veterans Boxing Association, and also was a member in good standing of Ring No. 1 in Philadelphia. In his later ran a hotel in upstate Pennsylvania along the Susquehanna River. For most of his later years he worked as a cab driver and lived in Philadelphia.

Joseph Borsa aka Joe Moran passed away in March of 1979.



Christened Joseph Barsa, boxed as Joe Barso, and under a Irish nom de plume Joe Moran. Boxed against Joe Batt, Johnny Hogan, Charlie Brown, Gene Fatanes, Joe "Kid" Raffles, Mike Wallace, "Tiger" Mayers, Joe Smith, Frankie Sarno, Sam Don Ricco, Max Steiner, Joe Dunn, Jack Ballazo, Gene Dardolon. A total of 37 pro bouts between 1916 to 1922 _ won 21, lost 12, draw 4. 

Good member Ring No.1; life member Ring No.6, Camden, N.J. Joe back in the 20's promoted 6 boxing shows at the Penn-Jersey A.C., 2nd & Kaighns Avenue, Camden. Owned and operated a prosperous hotel upstate on the banks of the Susquehanna River. Enlisted in the U.S. Army, May 4th. 1919. Honorably discharged on July 25th, 1922. Following boot training he was sent to Brest, France. His boxing ability led to special duties with the U.S. Forces stationed in Germany. Joe has a medal on red, white and blue ribbon that reads "Joe Barsa, Boxing Tournament, Battery F, 6th Field Artillery, First place featherweight 1920," The front shows two boxers in action - Joe Barsa Engraved A.F. in G. 1920. 

Joe and his soldier buddy Joe Connerton tell of a lost 5Ěday pass he had with our Joe. To see Germany they rode into Saarland from Coblenz. Put up at a hotel, 1/2 block from the Pfieffer Cafe. They heard there were finish fights held there in the back room. The gentlemanly hotel clerk who assigned them their room gave them the tipoff in broken English, The cafe was managed by frau Freida Doar. Fortified with a few brews they headed to the cafe back room. No floor padding, clothes line used to rope off the ring. The fighter known as "Big Buddy" was the floor clerk at the hotel. He was 5'10", weighed easily 185 lbs. Unable to gat a native challenger he started insultingly and defying Barsa who agreed to box him. Stripped to waist, asked for the gloves, was told_ "Ve doan fite mit gruffs". The regular referee said he was too sick to work a fight-to-a-finish bout. It was a rough give and take bout at the beginning. Barsa had been training regular at the base, in good shape. Just beer loaded, "Big Buddy" was doing a lot of missing and tiring when Joe started jabbing, hooking, and knocked his man out in 6 minutes of real fighting. With "Big Buddy" out on the floor, Frieda the manager said to Joe "Va ist kilt heem". Joe told her to keep pouring water on him he will be alright. They saw a side door, gat a cab back to Coblentz. They had. They had no baggage, a 5-day pass shot, and they had an experience that both Barsa and Connerton like to talk about.

From a book about Philadelphia boxing, title unknown

Joe Borsa
Coblenz, Germany




Thanks to Dave Gula for his help in creating this page.