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Thread: Legends of Mexican Boxing : Baby Arizmendi

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    Legends of Mexican Boxing : Baby Arizmendi

    Legends of Mexican Boxing : Baby Arizmendi
    Paul Magno/Boxing Tribune

    Brought to the port cities along the Gulf of Mexico by British and American sailors in the early parts of the 20th century, Boxing quickly became one of Mexico’s sporting obsessions and an integral part of Mexican culture. The first in a multi-part series on Mexico’s Boxing Legends, The Boxing Tribune chronicles the life and career of Hall of Famer, Alberto “Baby” Arizmendi.

    by Paul Magno

    What can be said about a fighter so tough that he beat the great Henry Armstrong, winning almost every round — with a broken wrist? Alberto “Baby” Arizmendi became Mexico’s first boxing star and paved the way for generations of warriors from the Aztec Nation.

    Born in Tamaulipas, Mexico in 1914, Arizmendi was a sickly child, suffering from a mild case of polio. Too frail to work in the ports along the Gulf of Mexico, a doctor recommended that Arizmendi’s parents take their 11-year-old son to a local boxing gym for therapy.

    Arizmendi excelled and, two years later, he made his professional debut in Laredo, Texas at the age of 13, becoming the youngest professional fighter to ever step in the ring.

    Five years later, the 5 ft, 4 battler would beat NBA featherweight champ, Tommy Paul, in a non-title catchweight bout in Mexico City, dropping the Buffalo, NY native twice en route to a dominant points victory.

    Despite efforts to get Paul back in the ring for a title bout, the rematch was never made. Instead, the California Athletic Commission granted Arizmendi a shot at their version of the world featherweight title, held by Newsboy Brown.

    The 1932 Brown-Arizmendi title bout, which was actually the rubber match in a three fight series started earlier in the year, was dominated by the Mexican in front of a packed Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles.

    Arizmendi would defend his title four times before dropping the belt via decision to NBA featherweight champ, Freddie Miller, in a 1933 unification. After a failed attempt to exact revenge on Miller four months later, Arizmendi moved on to beat veterans Eddie Shea and Al Roth, among others, and then capture the NYSAC (New York State Athletic Commission) world featherweight title in a New York fight against “The Bronx Spider” Mike Belloise in 1934.

    Next, in the signature victory of his career, Arizmendi dominated and decisioned Henry Armstrong at the Estadio Nacional in Mexico City on November 4, 1934. Fighting with a broken wrist, suffered in the second round, “Baby” dominated the bout in what the press called “one of the most courageous exhibitions in Mexican ring history.” Two months later, Arizmendi would beat Armstrong again for the California-Mexico world featherweight title.

    All told, Armstrong and Arizmendi would fight five times, with Armstrong taking the 3-2 edge, the final and rubber match contested at welterweight.

    Over the last five years of his career, the fan favorite Mexican warrior would become a fixture on the California fight circuit, engaging in thrilling battles against the likes of Lou Ambers, Chalky Wright, and Sammy Angott, and retiring in 1942 with a record of 81-27-13 (17 KOs). Arizmendi would take pride in the fact that, although stopped four times in his career, he always finished on his feet and never took a full 10-count.

    After retiring, he enlisted in the US Navy, serving in the Pacific during World War II. Following the war, Arizmendi opened a restaurant in the Echo Park District of Los Angeles. The groundbreaking Mexican pugilist would pass away from diabetes-related complications in 1963, at the age of 48.

    Arizmendi was inducted, posthumously, into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004.

    The Boxing Tribune salutes the career and accomplishments of Alberto “Baby” Arizmendi, the first of a long line of Mexican warriors and a true pioneer of prize fighting.

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    Re: Legends of Mexican Boxing : Baby Arizmendi

    This is very interesting. I have to admit that Arizmendi is not someone I know a lot about other that he fought Armstrong a number of times. In looking
    at his record he seems a little inconsistent at times but he certainly had some huge victories in his career.

    Hap, you actually saw him. How do your rate him? Was he in the class or close to a Manuel Ortiz? Stylistically who would you compare him too?

    thanks,

    EMF

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    Re: Legends of Mexican Boxing : Baby Arizmendi

    No one should dispute Arizmendi's rightful place in the annals of Mexican boxing. But there were others who helped pave the way for future stars of the Mexican fight game.
    One in particular comes to mind......David Velasco, nicknamed "Chato" (pug nose) in his country. A welterweight with a mediocre won/lost record, David was nevertheless one of the busiest fighters of his time in California, during the early 1930s.

    Velasco crammed nearly 20 California appearances to his credit, showing often at the Olympic, Hollywood Legion, San Diego, Pismo Beach, and at Dreamland (S.F.) and Sacramento. A string of consecutive losses surprisingly got him a co-feature bout outdoors at LA Wrigley Field where he shared the spotlight with heavyweighs Steve Hamas and Lee Ramage. But he lost that bout too, against Joe Glick. Truth be told, the caliber of his opponents in many fights was top flight. He fought Young Corbertt III (twice), Ceferino Garcia (twice), Swede Berglund, and the hard hitating Freddie Steele, and went the distance with them all. Despite losing more then half of his total fights, David was stopped only three times in his long careeer. He faced several Ca. state champions and in fact won over two of them defeating both Vearl Whitehead and Charlie Cobb

    But David Velasco has a couple of other footnotes that should be mentioned.....he was the first of a solid line of welters to emerge from the Mexican prize ring into California. Others that followed were Alfredo Gaona, Rodolfo Ramirez, Nick Moran, Tomas Lopez and ultimately Jose Napoles. And Velasco was the first dependable fighter imported by a rising young manager named George Parnassus.

    hap navarro

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    Re: Legends of Mexican Boxing : Baby Arizmendi

    Every Mothers Fear.......

    Like so many other Mexican battlers of the past, Arizmendi had a distinctively classic style, very light on his feet, excellent fotwork and the ability to take a heavy shot on the chin. Sturdy as a small oak, with a physique that resembled some of the lightweight European weight lifters in the Olympic Games. He was the first boxer I ever saw that developed a unique style of pacinghimself so that he seemed to loaf through the first two minutes of a round and then come on like a fireball in the final seconds to catch the eyes of the judges and bewilder his foes.

    Years later, a young Fabela Chavez used the same tactics at the start of his career. Needless to say such a performance usually sent the fans into a frenzy. "El Generalito" (Little General) Arizmendi was enormouslyh tough and that is why he was never floored during his entire ring career.He happpened along in a day when staying active in the ring was more important than staying unbeaten. He lost to many opponents that he also beart in prior or subsequent matches including champions Henry Armstrong and Freddie Miller. He lost once to Wally Hally but defeated him four times in four other meetings. As for a comparison with Manuel Ortiz (everything considered) I think a focused Manuel would find a way to win.

    hap navarro

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    Re: Legends of Mexican Boxing : Baby Arizmendi

    Hap, during the 1940s, I saw a Californian welterweight Jimmy McDaniels at MSG, ko a "coming champion" Aron Perry in a big upset...Aaron Perry was touted as a "coming welterweight champion, but the tough McDaniels flattened Perry with body blows.
    A short time later they threw the hot McDaniels in with the absolute prime Ray Robinson, who demolished McDaniels...What if anything can you tell me about the tough Californian Jimmy McDaniels ? Thanks...

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