Argentinean fighters of note: Monzon, Galindez, Locche, Coggi & Castro
Argentinean fighters of note: Monzon, Galindez, Locche, Coggi & Castro
Different countries boast of their own great fighters. The English had gritty Nigel Benn and the great Lennox Lewis, the proud Cubans had the flashy Kid Gavilan and “El Feo” Rodriquez, the Nigerians had super talented Dick Tiger and Hogan "Kid" Bassey, the Ukraine has the Klitchko’s and so on. But for gaudy records, legendary fights and especially high drama, I have always had a great fondness for South American fighters and most particularly, for those from Argentina. Let’s go back in history now and look at a few of the more notable ones.
1. Carlos "Escopeta “(Shotgun) Monzon.
With a final record of 87-3-9 with 59 KO's, This powerful and rangy Argentinean killing machine, built like an iron rod, first captured the World Middleweight Boxing Championship in a shocking upset over the highly favored Nino Benvenuti. Who can forget the perfect rights cross to the jaw that was the coup de grace for Nino?Overnight, he became the toast of the boxing world. Handsome and macho, he became a superstar and a favorite of the jet set. Some said he pushed his punches. If so, he pushed over 87 opponents to defeat. He also became only the second man to stop former three-time world champion Emile Griffith in 14 rounds.
Blessed with great stamina and a granite chin, he seemingly was irresistible force. Indeed, he was unbeaten over the last 81 bouts of his career, a span of 13 years! He defended his title fourteen times. Sadly, Monzon, like Salvador Sanchez, died in a car accident in 1995 at the age of fifty-two.
Carlos never did stop walking on the wild side and certainly never found the secret to controlling the raging temper that he mastered so well within the roped square. Mike Casey
2. Nicolino "El Intocable" Locche.
One of my all-time favorites, this Hall of Famer from Argentina, 117-4-14, possessed incredible defensive skills that may well have been every bit as good as Willie Pep’s. He was known for his magical defensive tactics, uncanny reflexes and extraordinary ability to feint and make his opponents miss. This earned him the nickname “The Untouchable.” In many of his fights, his fans would burst into song mesmerized as they watched him dazzle his opponents. The event would resemble a soccer match.
Following an amateur career in which he won 117 of 122 bouts, he turned pro in 1958. In 1961, he defeated Jaime Gine over 12 rounds to capture the Argentine lightweight title and two years later added the South American lightweight title. Over the next several years, he fought Joe Brown, Ismael Laguna and Carlos Ortiz. He then stopped Paul Fujii in Tokyo for the WBA junior welterweight title. Locche successfully defended the title five times. After losing to Antonio Cervantes (who he had previously beaten), he closed out his career with 7 straight wins. Locche is revered as one of Argentina's greatest boxing legends. He died on September 7, 2005 at the age of 66.
If you ever get a chance to watch this magician fight on video or film, don’t pass it up.
3. Victor Galindez
This colorful warrior hailed from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and amassed a 52-9-4 amateur record. As a pro, his final slate was 55-9-4-2 with 34 KO’s. He represented Argentina at the 1968 Olympic Games before turning professional in 1969. Galindez captured both the Argentine and South American light heavyweight titles in 1972, beating tough Argentine fighters like Juan Aguilar and Jorge Ahumada. Galindez suffered his first pro defeat when Aguilar beat him via a 10 round decision. It wasn’t the only time Aguilar would give Victor trouble as they fought three more times in 1970 with Galindez failing to beat him with another decision loss, a draw and a no contest.
In 1974, he challenged for the vacant WBA light heavyweight championship. Now focusing more on boxing than partying (for which he had a wild reputation), he put his 23-fight unbeaten streak on the line when he met Len Hutchins, 22-1-1, on December 7, 1974 for the vacant WBA light heavyweight championship. Fighting like a ferocious bull, he TKO'd Hutchins in 13 rounds. A busy champion, he traveled the world defending his title 10 times over formidable foes like Pierre Fourie, Alvaro “Yaqui” Lopez (yes, that Yaqui Lopez), Richie Kates and Eddie Gregory. He lost the crown to Mike Rossman in 1978 (it was his first loss in seven years and 44 fights). He regained it in a rematch the following year. He then lost the title to Marvin Johnson.
Galindez also got to know his opponents very well during his career as he fought Aguilar nine times, Peralta six times, Ahumada five times, Domingo Silviera three times, Adolfo Cardozo twice, Lopez twice, Kates twice, Burnett twice, Rossman twice, Ramon Cerrezuela twice, Raul Loyola twice, Pedro Rimovsky twice, Ruben Macario Gonzalez twice and Fourie twice. Galindez fought once more before retiring, losing to Jesse Burnett. Sadly, on October 26, 1980, at the age of 31, he was killed in a horrible auto racing accident in De Mayo, Argentina.
Victor Galindez was the first Argentinean to win the title at home; though he never defended it there, as he was more at home in South Africa and Italy. Still, he was a national hero, and tens of thousands of mourners came to pay their respects the day his coffin was on view in Luna Park, the arena in which he had won the title from Len Hutchins. Like Locche and Monzon, he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2002.
When I was a child I wanted to be a leopard, to be free, to be hunted, to escape. I became one. I wanted to be a champion. I became one. I lived my life the way I wanted. I think I’d now like to become a champion auto racer. It’s a sport less dangerous than boxing. You can die at any moment in boxing. Racing is a lot safer. You don’t have to take any punches in racing.
4. Juan “El Látigo” Coggi.
His record was 75-5-2 with 44 KO’s. Coggi was born on December 19, 1961 and is a native of Santa Fe, also the birthplace of Carlos Monzon. He became a three time world Jr. Welterweight champion. His nickname, “El Látigo,” means “The Whip.” “El Látigo” fought under the radar and few American fans knew much about him. He finished with a winning percentage of 91% and a KO percentage of 54%. Argentina boxing includes many greats. Immortals like Locche, Monzon, Galindez, Salazar and Castro. “El Látigo” surely has a prominent place among them.
His level of opposition included such formidable foes as Jose Luis Ramirez, Harold Brazier, 60-8-1, Patrizio Oliva, 48-0 coming in, Adolfo Rossi, Hugo Ariel Hernandez, 40-1, Ruben Oscar Verdun, Sang Ho Lee, 47-1 coming in, Akinobu Hiranaka, 17-0, Francisco Cuesta, 27-2-1, and Hiroyuki Sakamoto, 19-0. The total won-lost record of his opponents was extremely impressive.
After a great amateur career, he turned professional on April 2, 1982 and won seven of his first ten bouts by knockout. In 1986, he beat Hugo Ariel Hernandez, 40-1-1, coming in, for the Argentine (FAB) Light Welterweight Title in Buenos Aires. He then won the WBA Light Welterweight Title by knocking out the aforementioned Oliva in Ribera, Italy. Like the great Monzon, he took a liking to Italy and KO’d Korean Sang Ho Lee, 47-1, in Roseto degli Abruzzi. In 1989, he beat cagey Harold Brazier by decision in Vasto, Italy and after beating the great Jose Luis Ramirez in France in 1990 (after which Ramirez retired), he was upset dropping a razor thin MD to Loreto Garza, 21-1-1, in Nice for the WBA Light Welterweight Title.
He then went on a 20-fight win streak, doing battle in many different countries. In 1993, he beat Filipino Morris East to earn the WBA Light Welterweight Title. After several successful defenses, he lost a UD to Frankie Randall, 50-3-1 at the time, on September 17, 1994 in Las Vegas. He would go on to split a pair with Randall in 1996. Each fight with Randall was controversial for different reasons. Many remember Coggi based only on his performances against Randall, but Coggi beat Randall in their second fight after Frankie was unable to continue due to an injury caused by a head butt. As well, Coggi had decked Randall in round three of that fight. He proceeded to win 5 in a row before losing his last fight to Michele Piccirillo, 29-1, in Italy on May 29, 1999 closing out a great career against great opponents in many different countries. He never lost a fight by knockout.
5. Jorge "Locomotora” Castro
Still fighting, he is currently 130-11-3. When he crushed Colombian Jose Luis "La Pantera" Herrera, 14-2 coming in, at the Municipal Patinódromo, Sea of the Silver, in Buenos Aires on January 27, 2007, he had avenged a previous loss. He decked “The Panther” 4 times, as he gained his redemption in no uncertain terms.
“Locomotora” has been fighting as a pro for 20 years. He won his first 40 professional fights, but few except aficionados know much about him, maybe because most of his fights have been in Argentina. Nonetheless, he has fought the very best during his long career. Indeed, he split a pair with Robert Duran beating him in 1997 and holds two wins each over Reggie Johnson (for the vacant WBA Middleweight Title) and John David Jackson (in 1994’s Ring Magazine Fight of the Year). He also beat Peter Venancio (three times), Hector Hugo Vilte, Alex Ramos, Juan Carlos Gimenez Ferreyra, Fabian Alberto Chancalay, Imamu Mayfield and many other tough customers. His losses were against such rugged foes as Shinji Takehara, Terry Norris, Vasily Jirov, Paul Briggs, Juan Carlos Gomez and Roy Jones Jr.
Many of Castro’s opponents have long since retired. Ramos now heads the Retired Boxers Foundation; Norris has been inducted into the Hall of Fame and Duran will go in this year; Takehara has retired as has John David Jackson; Jones and Jirov are still trying to recapture the magic. Yet Jorge fights on and wins.
No stranger to championship belts and fights, he has won the WBA Middleweight Title, the South American Cruiserweight Title, WBA Fedelatin Super Middleweight Title, the Argentine (FAB) Light Middleweight Title, and the South American Light Middleweight Title, As well, he has battled for the WBC Cruiserweight Title, IBF Cruiserweight Title, and IBO Cruiserweight Title.
The Classic….13 years prior to getting his payback (December 10, 1994 to be exact), Castro met tough John David Jackson for the WBA Middleweight Title at the Estadio de Beisbol in Monterrey, Mexico. The fight, named Ring Magazine’s Fight of the Year, featured one of the most dramatic endings in ring history. Castro was trailing badly on all three scorecards (71-80, 73-80 and 74-79). One eye was closed and the other was half closed. He was bleeding and pinned against the ropes taking wicked shots and combos.
Referee Stanley Christodoulou positioned himself to stop the fight and started to raise his hands to signal the stoppage, but then Castro landed a hard right hand on Jackson's chin and Jackson went down. All of a sudden, instead of stopping the fight in Jackson's favor, Christodoulou began counting out Jackson, but John David managed to get up. He suffered one more savage knockdown and "Locomotora” completed the comeback and retained his title with decisive knockout in the ninth round. Clearly, this had been one of the most amazing, if unlikeliest, turnarounds in boxing history. Shades of Hearns-Barkley, Castillo-Corrales, Graham Earl-Michael Katsidis….
At a press conference after the fight, Castro called his winning punch "La mano de Dios," (The hand of God). The ending to that fight became legendary in Argentinean lore and was written about for months in many boxing magazines and books. In 1998, proving the first win was righteous, Castro beat Jackson again, this time by a close UD. He decked John David twice in the 4th and 8th rounds to pull it out for the vacant WBA Fedelatin Super Middleweight.
Given the brutally redemptive manner in which he won his last fight, hopefully we can count on seeing him fight again. He finished with a winning percentage of 91% and a KO percentage of 54%.
There have been many others including Hugo Pastor Corro (59-7-2), Santos Benigno Laciar (79-10-0-2), Ubaldo Sacco (47-4-1), Gregorio "Goyo" Peralta (99-9-9 with 59 knockouts), Jorge Victor Ahumada, 42-8-2, Juan Domingo Roldán (67-5-2-1), Oscar Natalio Bonavena (56-9-1) and Carlos Gabriel Salazar (47-3-8).
Carlos Manuel Baldomir, Jorge Rodrigo "La Hiena “Barrios, Hector Javier “El Artillero" Velazco and Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez are notable Argentineans currently fighting. While they may never make ESPN’S already infamous and dreadful top 50 list, someday, they just might join these Argentinean greats.