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Thread: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

  1. #31
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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Dnahar.....and Box o'Daylight....

    Young Tommy became California State Bantam Champion in 1932 when he defeated Newsboy at Sacramento, in what was Brown's first defense of that title. Jack Dempsey was the referee in that match, which set a gate record of sorts for the Memorial Auditorium in the Ca. State Capitol. I consider Young Tommy to be one of the four top bantams produced by the Philippines, with Speedy Dado, Pablo Dano and Little Dado being the other three----this, of course, relative to the first 40 year period extending from 1925, when boxing was legalized in California, and up to 1965, when the alphabet titles became a part and parcell of the fight game in our midst.

    Jo Tei Ken was a marvel of sorts by becoming the very first major Korean boxing star to show in Caifornia, even though I believe he was a Japanese born in Korea. His best showings were against Speedy Dado and Young Tommy, although I believe Jo took part in that heralded bantam tourney held in Montreal 1934 in hopes of crowning a new world champion. Sixto Escobar came away with recognition as global kingpin mainly because he had impressed by stopping Mexico's Baby Casanova in one of the tournament bouts before winning the finale.

    hap navarro

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Box o'Daylight.....

    We could spend a few hours talking about the bantams, domestic and foreign, who so whetted my appetite for the fight game during my formative years. Your mention of Baby Casanova, one of Mexico's greatest idols (not necessarily the country's greatest boxers) but surely one of the hardest punchers ever developed below the Rio Grande, took me back some 60 years or more.

    I saw him in a few of his L.A. fights.....and Lordy! how that kid could belt! He remains to this day the only man to knock out Speedy Dado, Newsboy Brown and Young Tommy. He hardly ever weighed more than 135 pounds, he defeated Mexico's eternal welterweight champion, Kid Azteca in a Mexico City natural. Casanova fell victim early on to the temptations that are generally besieging young, impressionable athletes and that was his downfall, if we are to believe the press reports.


    Along with Pete Sanstol another outstanding European contemporary was Eugene Huat, and both debuted at the L.A. Olympic when I was about ll years old. Late in 1932 Speedy Dado defeated Eugene Huat in ten rounds and the following April Young Tommy scored over Pete Sanstol, also by decision.

    Your input on Sanstol and the Brown affair is quite interesting as I had forgotten that all of that took place oh! so many years ago.

    regards

    hap navarro

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Hap- It is great to hear from you again. In regards to your
    last post, it should be noted that two top Filipino flyweights,
    Little Pancho and Small Montana, fought alot of top
    bantamweights with some success in California during
    the 1930s.

    In regards to Panama Al Brown, is it possible that there
    was difficulty to have him defend his title in California
    because of the tough economic conditions of the
    GREAT DEPRESSION? Yes, I know that Filipino fans
    turned out in large numbers to see their heroes in
    action, but it would have been tough for them to
    buy relatively high-priced tickets considering their
    very modest paydays.

    - Chuck Johnston

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Quote Originally Posted by dongee
    Dnahar.....and Box o'Daylight....

    Jo Tei Ken was a marvel of sorts by becoming the very first major Korean boxing star to show in Caifornia, even though I believe he was a Japanese born in Korea. His best showings were against Speedy Dado and Young Tommy, although I believe Jo took part in that heralded bantam tourney held in Montreal 1934 in hopes of crowning a new world champion. Sixto Escobar came away with recognition as global kingpin mainly because he had impressed by stopping Mexico's Baby Casanova in one of the tournament bouts before winning the finale.

    hap navarro
    Hap,Here's an image I possess regarding that "heralded bantam tourney" of November 1934:

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Chuck, my buddy, I guess you will always be Mr. Nice Guy when it comes to this old geezer.
    For that, and for your kind words, I am deeply grateful.

    I honestly think that Tom Gallery, or perhaps Jack Doyle would have found a way to lure Al Brown into a title defense in the L.A. area, despite the depressed times, had the champion's people not thought the available opposition was entirely too tough. It just wasn't meant to be.

    You have no idea how deeply Mexican fans lamented the fact that their solid socker, Baby Casanova, never got shot at Al Brown's title. Since Brown was not considered a deadly puncher, they; figured Csanova could win over the elongated champ. But then, when Baby did get a shot at the crown in 1934 in that Montreal tournament he let Sixto Escobar nail him with a t.k.o. loss.

    -----------Box of Daylight......

    Do you remember how the fates stepped in and Sixto Escabar got himself a spot in that 1934 tournament of Armand Vincent? I have the story somewhere in my files but it seems that Escobar defeated Bobby Leitham in what was to have been a warm-up bout for Leitham and thus earned himself a berth in that tournament ladder. I think it was envisioned by some Canadian boxing folks that Leitham could emerge the winner in the pairings.

    Leitham was considered a real prospect in those days, particularly on his own territory. When
    Bobby ventured into L.A. for a bout in 1933 he was defeated by another Filipino stalwart, Little Pancho, at the Olympic, Jan. 31, New Year's Eve.

    regards

    hap navarro

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Escobar defeated Leitham twice by knockouts:
    http://www.boxrec.com/boxer_display.php?boxer_id=041259

    That's part of what made the Escobar-Sanstol World Title bout so interesting to boxing fans who attended. Leitham and Sanstol had had a rivalry. Sanstol had defeated Leitham twice in 12-rounders on points.

    Later, Leitham lost twice "on the floor" to Escobar, then considered by some the Bantam Champ.

    Meanwhile, Sanstol was retired from boxing, reconsidered, then "came back" by fighting Carr, Young Perez, and German Champions. He then headed back to Montreal--then the Bantamweight Capital of the World.

    Montreal papers reported that, when Sanstol returned to town to fight the leading bantams of the day--including Escobar--Leitham was among those on the train platform who had come to welcome him.

    Ultimately, during their title August 1935 bout together, Sanstol's ability to withstand Escobar's "soporific"--dream-inducing, right-hand was part of the saga of that World Bantamweight Title Bout.
    Leitham had lost twice to Sanstol, despite his handlers and fans protestations. And he had been knocked out twice by Escobar.

    Sanstol twice had beaten Leitham. And, although Escobar twice had had sent Leitham to the canvas for KO wins, he could not send Santol down even once--despite crashing rights to Sanstol's head:

    http://www.boxrec.com/media/index.ph..._Sixto_Escobar
    Last edited by BoxofDaylight; 04-06-2006 at 01:30 AM.

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Hap, I believe Jo Tei Ken was Korean born and traveled to Japan to study at Meiji University as Korea was then a colony of the Japanese empire. He had his first matches there and was to become Japan's first great boxing hero, which was no mean feat being that there was much discrimination against Koreans in Japan at the time.
    Anyway this is my favorite period for the flyweight and bantamweight divisions and is mostly overlooked by historians who favor the Wilde, Villa, Genero, Lynch, Goldstein, etc. era. But I am of the opinion that the Fly's and bantams from '30 to '45 was the very best with my favorites being Little Dado, Speedy Dado, David Kui Kong Young and of course the greatest of all time - Midget Wolgast (did that surprise you Hap ?).
    You guys discussing this era of 112's + 118's has brightened my week, thanks fellas'.
    Chuck H.

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    How sweet it is, friend Chuck Hasson, to stir you into posting an opinion once more!

    You'll get no battle from me in calling the Midget the Greatest, because I saw him flit about the ring so many times in L.A. bewildering his opponents with his blinding speed. Honestly, Chuck, that kid was like the proverbial "greased lightning" with guys like Juan Zurita, future lighweight champ, trying to nail a ghostly target! I still wonder how come my boy Perfecto Lopez scored over Midget not once, but twice! The only thing I can think of, because I did not see those bouts, was that Wolgast probably abandoned his usual boxing quickness to stand toe-to-toe with Perfecto, and Lopez was best when he didn't have to match great boxing skills with an opponent.

    And you're right about the era which was as rich as they get with a group of little guys that we have yet to witness a second time. When I was at the Legion Stadium I tried like crazy to revive interest in the flyweights, using rising star Keeny Teran as a starting point. I'm still the only Hollywood Matchmaker to stage a bout for the U.S. Flyweight Title, featuring Teran, and coming back with another such contest for the North Åmerican Flyweight Title, with Memo Diez winning over Keeny in that one. I brought Pappy Gault, Johnny Ortega and later Jimmy Abeytia to add to the flyweight mix. And there was another kid we imported whose last name escapes me at the moment----first name was Buddy.

    I have a complete rundown on both the flyweight and bantam regional champions, chronologically written down as each man succeeded to his particular throne room. It was a chore, believe me, what with all the Pacific Coast, Western, Pacific Northwest, etc. title claimants for 40 years, 1925 to 1965.

    Good to have your input, my friend.

    My best, always

    hap navarro

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    The "Golden-Age of Bantamweight Boxing":
    http://www.boxrec.com/media/index.ph...Golden_Bantams

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Box of Daylight......

    Very interesting and badly missing in our cauldron of mixed memories of the Golden Era among the bantams. I just read your input on that subject in the website you posted. Nice work, B O D.

    Man how my mind rushed in flash back to the times that were!

    One sad note to report: You mentioned my old friendly rival, later to become a friend, Harry Gordon. I know he was a heluva scrapper starting with his service days. Too bad Harry was most active in the days of the "No Decision" matches.

    Harry became a close associate, along with Joe Stanley, of Philadelphia, of the folks running the Olympic and Ocean Park arenas in southern California. Harry would work one corner and Joe Stanley would always be in the opposite corner. This prompted Bill Miller, former right hand man to Filipino fight expert Frank Churchill, to name Harry and Joe the "Weber and Fields" team of pro boxing in L.A. The nicknames stuck, so that the club management outfitted them each with a white woolen sweater with the names emblazoned in bright green letters on the back!

    He was in his 50s when I knew him, but Harry never lost his zeal for fisticuffs--- I remember when word got out that he had confronted a rival fight man in the Legion dressing rooms and without much warning, nailed the guy with a left hook, cutting him just above one eye. Few people messed with the likes of Harry Gordon. a true battler most of his life. R.I.P

    Congrats again on your good work on behalf of the little guys.

    regards

    hap navarro

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Ric- Thank you for posting the link to the article about bantamweights
    of the so-called "Golden Era." I must say that the said article shows
    again that Ring Magazine was out of touch in regards to what was
    happening on the Pacific Coast. After all, so many top bantam-
    weights based on the Pacific Coast were omitted from the
    bantamweight list in Ring Magazine published in 1953.

    - Chuck Johnston

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    To all of you: BoxofDaylight, Chuck, Chuck H., and Hap

    I really appreciate reading your stories and insights about all of these overlooked fighters. I'm only 29, but I have a deep fondness for the history of this sport and it is surprising how history can be so slanted when it comes to boxing. As an aside, I began looking at non-title fights to see who the champions were avoiding or wouldn't give title shots to and that is when I uncovered the CA bouts and asked about this topic.

    Going to back to what Chuck said about the great depression got me thinking...
    One other thing to consider about Al Brown not defending in CA: He was finally shamed into fighting Pete Sanstol in Montreal and he even gave Baltazar Sangchili a title shot in Valencia, Spain and Young Perez a title shot in Tunisia. I would be shocked if there was more money to be made in those places than in CA where so many great bantamweight contenders reigned at the same time. Plus, on May 29, 1933, Corbett and McLarnin fought for the world welterweight title in Wrigley Field in a fight that drew a crowd of 15,000 fans and the outfield seats were $1, not too bad for a world title fight. The more I read into this, the more I feel that Panama Al Brown was avoiding these fighters.

    Deepak

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    dnahar:

    I repeat, to me Panama Al Brown will always remain somewhat of an enigma. Here was a guy who weighed less than 118 pounds, standing almost six feet tall and with an enormous reach, not being made to face the very best little guys in the world, most of whom were active in our western hemisphere.......the Golden West, as a matter of fact.

    Again, I don't know all the facts. If our stateside promoters were to blame for Brown' s absence from our fight cards, who can blame them?

    It cost a small fortune to bring in a world's champion and his entourage, usually numbering around a dozen bodies, house them, feed them and otherwise pay for their passage all the way from another continent.

    A title bout between Brown and one of the western stars would have drawn well, methinks, but given the multiple headaches involved in staging an outdoor gala, would it all be worth the trouble? Another thing is certain: history has shown that all local fight clubs suffer in the aftermath of an outdoor extravaganza. Weekly regular shows before and after an outdoor card do not do well at the box office. The excitement may build up for the "big show" but interest in the regular programming dies down. Believe it.

    It is my understanding that the McLarnin-Corbett III match lost about $30,000 for Promoter Jack Doyle-----and, in fact, drove him out of the fight game forever. The reason is simple to fathom: that fight belonged in San Fancisco, where both Jimmy McLarnin and Young Corbett had earned a fan base, Jimmy from his earliest days in the game, and Corbett for his many fine showings before the Italian clientele in the bay area.

    hap navarro

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    dnahar:

    I guess I got off the subject in my last post because I started out to agree with you entirely that the Al Brown people gave the western bantamweight challengers a wide berth, choosing instead to defend the championship against some of the better class European challengers.

    When I read my posting I realized that I had gotten into nuances that often prevent a bout of international flavor from being a howling success. My apologies for that, Deepak.

    It would appear that the enigmatic Al Brown preferred to risk his laurels in a less risky venue, which kept him away from stateside shores and out of the western bantams' line of fire.

    Sorry, and, again, I think you were right on.

    regards,

    hap navarro

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Chuck, You are right about THE RING ratings short changing a lot of west coast fly's and bantams through the years, which I think is surprising considering the California correspondents to the RING like Gene Vanassa, Harry Winkler, Bill Miller, etc. gave those fighters great coverage of their fights and biographical material as well. But Nat Fleischer being a publisher as well as editor seemed to always be trying to increase his foreign circulation by rating sometimes SOME inferior boxers at the expense of probably SOME better men from the U.S.

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Chuck- Midget Wolgast piled up an impressive record while
    facing alot of top California-based fighters. But Wolgast
    did have quite a few losses and a low knockout percentage.
    As a result, alot of people feel that Benny Lynch was the
    best flyweight of the 1930s.

    By the way, I feel that Wolgast was the best
    flyweight/bantamweight who fought on a regular basis in
    California during the early 1930s. This was at a time when
    both the flyweight and bantamweight divisions were loaded
    with world-class fighters in the state.

    - Chuck Johnston

    - Chuck Johnston

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    To both Chucks and anyone else interested in California's contribution to flyweight greatness:

    Here are a few excerpts from my monograph on the 112 pound division in the Golden State, 1925 to 1965:

    By the dawning of the new era in January, 1925, the fight game in California was buzzing with classy flyweights. Campaigners like Frankie Grandetta, Jockey Joe Dillon, Frankie Novey, Young Nationalista, Teddy Silva, Frankie Murray and Georgie Rivers were familiar names to fans who attended the club fights of the early 1920s from San Francisco to San Diego.

    Best among the group, however, were two exceptional performers, Fidel La Barba and Jimmy McLarnin. By the spring of 1925 they all would have to make room for the imposing figure of Iowa's Dave Montrose, a mighty mite known professionally as Newsboy Brown. Of uncommon talent, both of those kids would go on to win world's championships in different weight classes, while Brown would languish on the sidelines despite his resounding victory over a reigning global kinpin, Al Brown, at Los Angeles. That highlight in Newsboy's career would happen just a few years after he had joined the elite group of little guys active in the state at the time.
    --------------------------

    FELLOWS:

    That's the way the monograph starts and it is entirely too long to spring on our readers, thus boring them to distraction. But I would like to point out some of the interesting sidebars we managed to glean from reasearching the 112-pound class for the years 1925 to 1965.

    One of the salient points is the McLarnin vs Pancho Villa bout held in Oakland in July, 1925 following which the world's champion, the Philippines' Villa lost his life.

    Then there is the mad scramble to crown a division titleholder after Fidel La Barba gave up the belt to enter Stanford University in 1927. Almost immediately two round robin tournaments were started in California, one in the North, by ex-lightweight champ Willie Ritchie and Promoter Ancil Hoffman, and the other at Hollywood by Matchmaker Tom Gallery.

    The San Francisco tourney was shortlived. Only one bout took place while the Hollywood shows went on for several weeks because of a stellar mix of little guys invited to take part.
    Among the foremost names in the division that appeared on the film city cards were Izzy Schwartz. Johnny McCoy, Britt Gorman, Harry Goldstein, Davey Adelman, Tommy Hughes and Singapore's Boy Walley.

    Newsboy Brown, who refused to enter the competition, later took on and defeated the tourney champion, Johnny McCoy, to claim the "world's title", California version. From that point on and until he chose to desert the division in 1930, Newsboy would rule the western roost and be ranked high among the top ten in the world.

    But elimination tourneys were not the sole province of the Golden State at La Barba's retirement. New York also piped in with round robin match ups, with Midget Wolgst emerging as the ultimate winner in the finale, where he defeated Cuba's Black Bill (Eladio Valdes). A tragic note was inserted herein----Valdes became despondent when his eyesight began to fail and he shot himself to death the following April.

    Through much of all this, Newboy Brown appeared to be not only the class of the division in the west but the "hard Luck kid" among the nation's 112-pounders. Brown's claim to laurels on the Pacific Coast would be forever challenged by a stocky Filipino, Pablo Dano, with whom he traded punches more than once with honors about even. In a bid for world recognition, Brown had taken on and defeated Midget Wolgast, the east's leading light among the mites.The match took place at the L.A. Olympic but Newsboy was denied recognition because he had been forced to drink water the night of the bout in order to come into the ring above the flyweight limit, saving Midget's title.

    But there were all manner of nuances surrounding the flyweight division in those days. An old favorite, Frankie Genaro, was still very much in the running for world honors. He and Wolgast drew in 15 rounds late in 1930, while Izzy Schwartz. conqueror of Newsboy Brown, kept pace for awhile, or until he was held to a draw by Filipino Pablo Dano at San Francisco.

    There is a vestige of truth in the belief that the western boys were not treated all that fairly when Madison Square Garden staged the epic flyweight tourney of 1929. For that matter neither were the classy Canadian bantams, among them Frenchy Belanger and Jackie Johnson, both of whom were denied an invitation to the tournament. The west coast boys, Dano and Dado, also snubbed, were deserving of a place in the pairings. And the exclusion of Jackie Johnson was a whopper. The lad had won over Frankie Genaro while the latter was laying claim to the world's title.

    --------------

    There are loads of interesting points to be discussed from the era immediately following the abdication of Fidel La Barba as World's Flyweight Champion. A time when this country was loaded with great 112-pound talent.

    regards


    hap navarro

    P,S. If continuity if fuzzy in the above, it has to be because I was picking random notes from the body of the monograph, trying to keep things interesting. Sorry if I failed to do so.

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Hap: You wrote above, in part: "That's the way the monograph starts and it is entirely too long to spring on our readers, thus boring them to distraction."

    May I say that I have never been "bored to distraction" by the historical information you offer to all of us by your first-hand life experience. Please give us "all you got to give." I love it! Ric

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Just how evenly gifted were some of the early claimants to superiority in California among the better flyweights? Here's a bit of a slide rule to help us establish that:

    Jimmy McLarnin and Fidel La Barba clashed in the very first ten round bout held at Doyle's Vernon Arena under the new law, January 13, 1925. Jimmy was unbeaten at the time, while Fidel had lost once, to McLarnin, in 1924. Their second meeting was a sizzler, with Jimmy getting the nod once more. But the Belting Celt was still growing and in fact took on Pancho Villa in that ill-fated Oakland bout as a legitimate bantam just six months later.

    La Barba then drew with Newsboy Brown in ten rounds in a so-called "Pacific Coast Flyweight Title bout" at Hollywood even though he weighed in at 118 pounds to Newsboy's 113 3/4 for that match. Not surprisingly, such was the nature of things pugilistic in the first months of legalized pro boxing in California.

    To muddy the waters further, Georgie Rivers, who was the state's first prominent Hispanic flyweight, upset Newsboy Brown at Hollywood in May, 1925, canceling a proposed fight between La Barba and Brown for regional honors. La Barba had beaten Rivers in mid-March and McLarnin burst back into the local picture by winning from another southland favorite, Teddy Silva, the same week.

    Inexplicably, the loss to Mcarnin propelled Silva into a regional title shot with Fidel, May 29, 1925 and so La Barba became Flyweight Champion of the Pacific Coast with a convincing win over Teddy at Hollywood. The handsome Italian schoolboy had emerged top man in the west despite the loss to McLarnin and his draw bout with Brown----go figure.

    It became obvious that Fidel was the real deal when in an outdoor show held at Ascot Speedway in downtown L.A.. he defeated Frankie Genaro for what was at least a portion of world honors in the flyweight division. The New York Athletic Commission, opting in its usual manner, had named Genaro as "World's Champion" following the death of the legitimate titleholder, Pancho Villa, who had refused medication for a serious blood condition which was aggravated in the loss to McLarnin. Oddly enough, where Villa had won his world's title subbing for Frankie Genaro in New York, Frankie took Pancho's place in a proposed meeting with La Barba at Ascot.

    And yet, the enormous void left at the top of he flyweight ranks by Villa's sudden death would not be filled unconditionally for a couple of years.

    more later, friends

    hap navarro

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    In 1925, the New York State Athletic Commission didn't
    recognize Fidel La Barba as the world flyweight champion
    after his victory over Frankie Genaro because La Barba
    was under twenty-one years of age at the time. As
    a result, the California State Athletic Commission wasn't
    very happy about the said action and it is quite possible
    that this is the reason that Ruby Goldstein was allowed
    to fight in California after being suspended in New York
    in 1926.

    - Chuck Johnston

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    You are right, Chuck, but I have thought that New York's refusal to recognize La Barba as World's Champion after he had won from Frankie Genaro was because he had done so in a ten round bout. It seems New york insisted title bouts had to be over twelve or more heats.

    Complicating matters was the fact that Fidel was under the required age for engaging in a bout of more than six rounds. In a conflicting edict, New York's moguls granted La Barba recognition as American titleholder. It was as such that he was summoned by Promoter Tex Rickard to appear in a six-round semi-final on the prestigious Christmas Milk Fund Show held at Madison Square Garden on December 23, 1925.

    The bout marked the debut of La Barba in New York City. He defeated Lew Perfetti, who was a last minute substitute for Joe Lazarus, Fidel's originally scheduled foe, who pulled out due to illness. The match was in support of the Mike MccTigue versus Tiger Flowers main event.

    I knew Fidel La Barba, saw him every week for some six years during which time he never expressed outward bitterness for what some might have considered unusually harsh treatment. Perhaps the fact that he went on to win the world's title, without dispute, in a New York City ring in 1927 helped assuage whatever rancor he might may have harbored. As you probably know, he became a columnist for the Santa Monica Outlook and a State Athletic Commission Inspector yet found time to write a screen play for a Victor Mature film.

    There are some interesting sidebars to the chronology of regional flyweight kinpins, those who were active on the west coast during the years 1925 to 1965. We'll get to them tomorrow.

    regards

    hap navarro

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Hap- I am glad that Fidel La Barba didn't hold any apparent
    grudges about the New York's refusal to not recognize
    him as the world flyweight champion after his bout with
    Frankie Genaro. If New York didn't recognize La Barba
    due to the fact that his bout with Genaro was a
    scheduled ten-rounder that went to the distance,
    does that mean that the state didn't recognize Gene
    Tunney as the world heavyweight champion after
    he won the title from Jack Dempsey?

    - Chuck Johnston

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    That's what bothered me for years, Chuck---the Dempsey-Tunney bout being over the ten round distance. But remember the rematch was held away from any ruling by the New York Commission, thus avoiding any more trouble for Promoter Tex Rickard. I had also heard that politics had kept the rematch from taking place in New York City.

    And I know for a fact that the New York Comish refused titular recognition for Manuel Ortiz when he scored over Lou Salica in a twelve rounder at Hollywood Legion Sadium in 1942. It was only when Manuel stopped Salica in the eleventh round of a scheduled fifteen rounder in the bay area that Ortiz gained New York's okay as champion.

    ----------------

    I'm getting some stuff together on one of my favorite flyweights, a sorta second echelon worthy out of the Philippines who might have gone a lot higher in the game had he not been one of many such promises in the same stable. I'm certain you'll know much about him when you read his name here, because you do your homework, pal.

    regards

    hap

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    I received Marty's blessing and I'm posting his excellent article on Panama Al Brown since it is somewhat relevant to our previous discussion.

    Enjoy,
    Deepak



    For Max Members
    Forgotten Champion: Panama Al Brown
    By Marty Mulcahey (April 6, 2006)
    Send this page to friend Give us your feedback
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Alfonso Teofilo Brown was more than a trailblazer for Panamanian boxers. Al Brown cut a path for countless Hispanic boxers to follow when he became the first Latino champion in the history of boxing. Panama Al Brown, as he was known the world over, was a globetrotter of the highest order, who became an ambassador for all that was good about Latin America as well as boxing. A man who mixed as easily with the upper echelon of Paris society, such as Ernest Hemingway and Jean Cocteau, as he did with the hardened men who climbed out of the slums of the world to fight him. Panama Al was as much a marvel as the canal for which his native country would ultimately become famous for.

    It might not be politically correct to say, but the dimensions of Brown's body were freakish. Consider that his reach (at 76 inches the same as Joe Louis' and eight inches longer than Rocky Marciano's) was measured four inches longer then his height, which stood at a massive 5'11 inches of muscle packed into a bantamweight body! A body structure that made Thomas Hearns look positively fat in comparison, but unlike Hearns Brown had a chin of concrete and reportedly had little problems making the 118 pound weight limit. Boxing historian Bob Mee gave the perfect description of Brown, calling the elongated Panamanian "Spidery". His extraordinary proportions, marvelous boxing skills, and amicable personality made Brown a star attraction wherever he appeared. Which accounts for his having fought in sixteen countries over twenty years, he was a man in demand in the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s. He was especially adored in Paris and New York City, then as now two of the world's favorite cosmopolitan hubs.

    Of course, Brown's physical dimensions aided him, but those alone would not account for the ring perfection he often put forth. Nearly seventy years after his final bout, Brown is still considered one of the five best bantamweights to ever lace up the gloves. The Ring magazine, in 1996, rated Brown the fifth best bantamweight of all time, as well as the 46th best fighter of the last eighty years in 2002. The Associate Press thought even higher of Brown, and in their end of the century boxing poll listed Brown at number four among bantams. Only the legendary Roberto Duran has managed to surpass Brown in the hierarchy of great Panamanian fighters in the 84 years since Brown's debut. Brown, much like Joe Louis and his 'bum of the month club', achieved a high level of recognition despite a cast of title challengers that is underwhelming in star status. However, as the sole champion, he ran roughshod over these men for six years, almost exclusively on their home turf. Like a great dictator, he also forced some men to flee the division upon his ascent to the throne.

    Stylewise, Brown was a master with the left jab, often winning behind it alone. When an opening presented itself, Brown would send a lightning fast straight right towards opponents who often felt themselves at a secure distance. While his punches had some sting, they were not concussive which accounts for a kayo percentage just above 35%. Much of Brown's success can be credited to his footwork, where he would cover a lot of canvas on offense or defense, with massive strides further enhancing the excellent timing of his punches. In over 160 recorded bouts, Brown was never stopped, a measure of defensive skill and toughness when the sport was more brutal than we see today. Brown's ring intelligence was only surpassed by the man himself out of the ring, where Brown spoke seven languages and was astute at various social and academic levels.

    Alfonso Teofilo Brown was born a day after America's independence celebration, on July 5th, 1902, in Colon, Panama. Born into a poor family, Brown's parents could not afford to educate him beyond grammar school, so a young Alfonso tried to fulfill his dream of becoming a lawyer by taking a clerical job at an attorney's office. The lawyer was the first person to nudge Brown in the direction of boxing. The attorney picked upon Brown's unusual build, and as a fan of boxing saw the advantages in those long arms. Nothing became of the initial push as Brown was hesitant, having only fought through necessity on the tough streets of Colon.

    Eventually, the wanderlust that would take Brown around the world took a hold of Brown. He moved out of the lawyers’ office to find employment as a clerk with the United States Shipping Board in the burgeoning Canal Zone. It is there that Brown caught the boxing bug, watching American sailors and marines boxing recreationally. The teenager was intrigued by the sport, and began to train at The Panama Central Club. Soon, he was a fixture. Initially, only as a spectator at battle royals, amateur contests, and the few professional bouts held in Panama. After picking up the rudimentary of boxing, through training and sparring, Brown felt ready to enter the ring in earnest.

    The first recorded bout for Al Brown took place on March 19th, 1922 at The Panama Club in Colon (although some have speculated he began to box as early as 1919 in local tourney's that were for all intense and purposes professional affairs), where Brown defeated Jose Moreno over six rounds. Brown was 20 years of age, and his still developing body could still hold the flyweight limit of 112 pounds. Over the next seven months, Brown won five bouts via kayo, to set himself up for a shot at the Isthmus flyweight title. It was his first bout scheduled for fifteen rounds, and he was an underdog to American 'Sailor' Patchett. Brown established his superiority by scorings knockdowns in the third and fourth, before cruising to a decision win and a purse of $165.

    The win over Patchett became doubly important, as Brown was spotted by American Dave Lumiansky (some sources state it was Tom Fahy who would become his manager for a period in New York City) who managed a stable of boxers in New York City, where he wanted to nourish this new found star in pugilism if not weight. Brown did not hesitate to take the offer, as he had read about America and learned English while working in the canal zone. In New York City Lumiansky had trouble getting Brown fights because of his imposing dimensions. This unwittingly enabled Brown to become better through constant sparring, at Billy Grupp's Gym, with the likes of light heavyweight great Kid Norfolk. To supplement his income, Brown bused tables in Harlem. When Brown did debut at The Veledrome it was a nondescript four round draw with Johnny Breslin (who would later defeat world bantanweight champion Johnny Buff), that was twice avenged through ten round decision wins. Luck struck when matchmaker Jess McMahon saw Brown sparring at the Commonwealth club, he immediately booked Brown to appear there. Brown was an instant sensation, fighting 20 of his next 26 bouts (over two years) at The Commonwealth Club, drawing overflow crowds.

    By now, he had taken on the prefix of 'Panama" (also called The Elongated Panamanian) to his name, and established himself as the number three rated flyweight in the world according to The Ring Magazines inaugural boxer ratings in 1924, an impressive feat for a man who had made his American debut less then a year ago. Brown continued his run of good performances at The Commonwealth club, but inescapably met defeat for the first time at the hands of Detroit native Jimmy Russo in Brown's last bout of 1924. In his first fight of 1925, Brown avenged his loss to Russo, and duplicated the ten round win again six months later. While his only losses came at above weight bouts, it was becoming obvious that Brown needed to abandon the flyweight class in favor of bantamweight prey.

    Other than a first round disqualification loss to Frankie Murray Panama recorded a perfect 1925, winning twelve fights and resurfacing in The Ring rankings as the number six rated bantamweight. Travel lust again overtook Brown in 1926, accepting an offer for three fights in France. When Brown arrived in The City of Lights, it was love at first fight for Parisian's and Brown alike. He impressed those in attendance at his European debut, at The Wagram Studio Room, with a second round kayo of Marseilles born Antoine Merlo. What was supposed to be a three bout excursion, turned into a nine fight tour that lasted an entire year. Brown did become distracted by the glitz and glamor of his new surroundings, compiling a rather pedestrian 6-2-1 record in France. Still, his extroverted personality and ease with which he learned the language made him extremely popular.

    The most important victory that Brown scored on that European tour was a ten round rout of former world featherweight champion Eugene Criqui. While Criqui was past his prime, it established Brown as a contender as well as capturing the imagination of the French population. Upon his return to America, Brown was seen as something of a conquering hero, headlining Madison Square Garden and defeating fellow contender Benny Schwartz over ten rounds. Brown went undefeated, splitting his time between France and New York, in 1928 and early 1929. Notably making news by knocking out Gustav Humery in a record fourteen seconds, to include the referee's count of ten.

    The fanfare that Brown received, on both sides of the Atlantic, ensured his nomination to fight for the vacant bantamweight title against Spaniard Gregorio Vidal. The title was abandoned by Phil Roesnberg when he could no longer make weight, setting up the clash of non-Americans for the title at Queensboro Stadium in Long Island City in June of 1929. Brown's popularity drew 15,000 fans, who did not leave disappointed. The New York Times described Brown's coronation, "As masterful an exhibition of boxing as he ever furnished, Brown won the decision over Gregorio and established himself beyond peradventure as a man worthy the mantle of champion of his class. A tantalizing, snappy left jab accomplished this objective with surprising ease for with his left jabs Brown beat an annoying, discouraging tattoo against the face of Gregorio."

    As the news filtered out of New York, Brown became a national hero in Panama, and instant celebrity in every corner of Latin America. 'Panama' Al made headlines from Mexico City to Buenos Aires. When, in 1930, his mother fell ill, Brown returned to a hero's welcome reentering Panama for the first time in seven years. The win earned Brown recognition from The New York State boxing commission, and thusly world wide recognition aside from the National Boxing Association who held out recognition for four months. Surprisingly, a month after his title win, Brown suffered a shock defeat (and knockdown) at the hands of future world champion Bat Battalino, in an over the weight affair, which he accepted for the five thousand dollar purse. However, when the title was on the line it was another matter, as Brown defended the title eleven times over an uninterrupted six year span.

    After winning the title, Brown moved his home base to Paris permanently, returning to fight in America occasionally, but only once in defense of the title. The road show that was Panama Al Brown now began in earnest. Knud Larsen was defeated in Denmark, Frenchmen Eugene Huat and Nick Bensa suffered losses in France. Norwegian ex-patriot Pete Sanstol lost in his adoptive homeland of Canada, Kid Francis in Marseilles, Emile Pladner in Toronto, Italian Dom Bernasconi lost in Milan, Englishman Johnny King was defeated in Manchester, and Tunisian Young Perez fell in Paris, and again in Tunis. Fighting at home had become a handicap with Brown's ascension to the title.

    Of course, not all the wins were easy, his two fights with Pete Sanstol (and Sanstol won the second where a title was not on the line) stand out as tough affairs. The Montreal Gazette noted of their initial title bout "The consensus after the fight was that Sanstol, who put on a rousing finish in the fifteen round setto, had won six rounds to six for Brown with three even. However, most observers seemed to feel that the contest was too close for a title to change hands. By such a microscopic margin did Pete Sanstol miss the bantamweight championship of the world." 12,300 did not agree and booed the decision. In a bout against Kid Francis, in 1932, a split decision went Brown's way which caused a riot to break out in the arena. The scariest moment came when a mob of Gustave Humery fanatics stormed the ring, (Brown was D.Q.'d after the bout degenerated in a festival of fouls) and beat the champion into unconsciousness before the police could get to him and restore order.

    In most cases, Brown simply left fans in awe, outclassing the opposition through inspired ringmanship, or through his humanity, as was the case when he donated 25,000 Francs of his purse to benefit French War veterans. Such shows of generosity were not reciprocated by the National Boxing Association, who in May of 1934 stripped title recognition from Brown for refusing to meet Mexican Baby Casanova in a timely manner. The uproar was not of a deafening variety, and few considered Brown anything less the reigning champion.

    The title was lost for Brown, in the ring, on June 1, 1935, when he suffered a defeat at the hands of Spaniard Baltazar Sangchili, via a fifteen round decision in Valencia, Spain. Brown's title reign had lasted a record five years and 11 months, which was only recently bested (in 2004) by Veeraphol Sahaprom, partly due to split titles brought on by the WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO. A second consecutive defeat to contender Pete Sanstol, in Norway, gave Brown the impetus to declare his retirement from the sport. Brown returned to Paris, but found the city quickly drained him of his savings by living the high life. Within two years, Brown had gone through his money (some friends money as well), forcing him to return to the ring four days short of his two year retirement anniversary, in order to establish a second retirement fund.

    Three months into his comeback, Panama had knocked out four of his five opponents, and set his sights on avenging the loss to Baltazar Sangchili. It was accomplished in short order, as he knocked Baltazar down three times in thirteenth and walked away with a fifteen round win. The IBU (International Boxing Union) absurdly proclaimed Brown as their world champion, while the rest of the world continued to recognize Puerto Rico's Sixto Escobar as the legitimate champion. At 36, and in the midst of a comeback, Panama was obviously far past his prime. Yet, he managed to defeat noteworthy contender Valentin Angelmann in his next bout. The two wins afforded Brown a good cash flow, so he took a year off to spend the new found booty. A second comeback from 1941 to 1942 featured four wins, two losses, and a draw against nondescript oppositions. It was an ignoble end of a brilliant career.

    Life was good for Brown for a couple of years; his money invested well allowing him time to direct an orchestra that played on the French Riviera. It would also be remiss of me not to acknowledge that during his years in Europe, Brown was reputed to have had a homosexual affair with French poet, novelist, and dramatist (also Brown's manager) Jean Cocteau. World War II landed a crippling blow to Brown, as he fled Paris as the Nazi's marched under the Arc De Triumph laying claim to property owned by Brown estimated at a quarter of a million dollars. Brown escaped back to New York City, but his holdings were destroyed.

    The loss of his European holding might have been what drove Brown to the depths of depression, which ultimately ended in the depths of a cocaine addiction. In the late 1940s, Brown was deported form America to Panama after a cocaine possession conviction. The city of New York still held a nostalgic attraction for Brown, and he returned there after a year. The metropolis showed him little pity, and Brown was reduced to begging on the streets when his money dried up shortly after arrival. His physique was now skeletal because of malnutrition, and the former star of Paris and New York died of tuberculosis in a Staten Island hospital at age 48 on April 11th, 1951.

    When his countryman heard of the death of 'Panama' Al Brown, it spurred a nationalistic drive to return his body to the country he had brought fame to. It rescued the former champion from an unmarked grave reserved for derelicts of New York City. Brown's remains were transferred to Amador Guerrero national cemetery, home of that nation's deceased heroes, a fitting resting place for a man who proudly carried the name of his beloved homeland into the ring, and ultimately his grave.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    For Questions or Comments
    E-Mail Marty Mulcahey at mmulcahey@elpasotel.net

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    dnahar:

    Thanks for posting the column on Panama Al Brown. I must say that as a very young lad I, too, thought of him as a super hero. His refusal to defend the title against my own personal favorite at the time, Baby Casanove, plus his two consecutive losses to southern California regulars Speedy Dado and Newsboy Brown weighed heavily in making him seem rather ordinary to my way of thinking.

    I don't know how one can explain away those two losses, given the enormous advantage Al Brown enjoyed, physically, over a couple of 5'4" scrappers like Speedy and Newsboy. Some continental boxers, particularly those from abroad, are actually unbeatable on their own turf but hardly world beaters away from home. Dado came into the Al Brown fight weighing one quarter pound over the bantam limit by mutual agreement. That saved the night and the crown for the champion.

    regards

    hap navarro

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Regarding Marty's excellent piece, my only disagreement would be concerning the source of this quote:

    "The Montreal Gazette noted of their initial title bout 'The consensus after the fight was that Sanstol, who put on a rousing finish in the fifteen round setto, had won six rounds to six for Brown with three even. However, most observers seemed to feel that the contest was too close for a title to change hands. By such a microscopic margin did Pete Sanstol miss the bantamweight championship of the world.'

    I do not believe that came from the MONTREAL GAZETTE, but was written by Ted Carroll (http://www.boxrec.com/media/index.php/Ted_Carroll) in the January 1959 THE RING, p. 21 (http://www.boxrec.com/media/index.ph...:_January_1959) --as I noted in my original post above, from my web page here: http://www.geocities.com/boxofdaylight/Brown.htm.

    Although the Montreal papers agreed it was a close call, that, as I said above, certainly seemed to have warranted a rematch, that never happened.
    Ric

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    According to his record on BoxRec, Pablo Dano was knocked out
    knocked out in the seventh round when he fought a southpaw
    named Tommy Forte in Philadelphia in 1937. Forte went on to
    have an interesting career.

    I wonder if Forte was related to a Philadelphia-based 1950s
    teenage singer named Fabian, whose real name was Fabian
    Forte. Fabian had the looks of a teenage idol, but, to put
    it mildly, had a very limited singing voice. He did have a
    couple of hit records and acted in a number of movies.

    - Chuck Johnston

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    It would be interesting to know the details in that stoppage of Pablo Dano at the fists of Tommy Forte. Could it have been an injury suffered by Dano, or a cut eye, or was he really knocked unconscious?

    Forte must have been an okay battler because of his other accomplishments in the ring. But the Dano I got to see a number of times in California was a bull-necked fire plug of a man, tough as nails and seldomly dropped by an opponent.

    Like another Filipino ace, Dano debuted in California at tiny National Hall in San Francisco in 1927 when he kayoed Georgie Lenore (boxrec calls him Georgie Leonard). It was a freakish ending when Dano nailed Lenore, knocking his dentures loose and down Georgie's throat. When he began to choke the fight was stopped and Dano was declared the winner via tko.

    As I have mentioned before in a Dano note, Pablo was banned from the ring in California in early 1938 due to failing eyesight. That's why he left the state to campaign elsewhere. When he quit boxing he operated a taxicab business in Manila. A younger brother, Alex also boxed professionally, but just briefly.

    hap navarro

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    I have looked high and wide for this match (Forte-Dano no. 1) and I can't find it. On the date they were supposed to have fought at the Phila. Arena. Henry Armstrong KO'd Joe Marciente. I have pre fight newsclips from three Phila. papers (INQUIRER, EVERNING LEDGER, RECORD) and no mention of a Forte-Dano match. A post fight newsclip from the RECORD makes no mention of this fight. I have clips on most of Forte's bouts but a 1st match with Dano has never shown up. Maybe it took place but it seems to be lost in time. They did fight in 1940 with Forte winning an easy decision but no mention is made about them having prevously fought.
    I have heard that Fabian was somehow related to Tommy and Johnny Forte but I am not sure. There are many FORTE's living in South Philadelphia.
    Chuck

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    Re: THE HISTORY OF L.A. BOXING by HAP NAVARRO

    Chuck- I noticed that the alleged knockout of Pablo Dano by
    Tommy Forte in Philadelphia in 1937 was the ONLY listed bout
    of Dano's in the East at the time. The rest of Dano's bouts
    were on the West Coast at that time. In other words, it is
    hard to believe that Dano went back to the East for just
    one bout.

    - Chuck Johnston

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