Unconditional Love Allotey
By Emmanuel Rivera, RRT
Mon, 23 Mar 2020
Cebu City, Philippines
March 23, 2020
(Circa 1989). The gentleman at the end of the line had a mellifluous African accent with a British lilt.
“This is Sumos Pappoe Allotey. May I speak with Hermie Rivera, please,” the caller asked.
After their conversation, my father excitedly turned to me and asked how my schedule was that day.
They found willing spar mates in (122 lb.) Gerardo Martinez and (126 lb.) Hector Lizarraga who were also the co-features in the upcoming December 1 card promoted by Elorde International Productions at the famed Cow Palace in Daly City, California, the same arena where Gabriel “Flash” Elorde lost to Sandy Saddler in the 13th round due to cuts after leading on 2 score cards and having knocked down Saddler once. It was an abbreviated and disappointing conclusion to an exciting fight that nearly went Mr. Elorde’s way, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Jack Fiske.
It was finals week in college, but I scrapped all plans for the library and opted instead to drive Team Espinosa which was composed of Lindol himself, my father, Mr. Rolando “Toti” Sangalang and Mr. Flor Rivera and yours truly as the driver, navigator and cheerleader.
No entourage, no fancy modes of transportation, no nutritional advisers, no conditioning coaches or advisers, back then.
Before the start of the sparring sessions at the old Star Boxing Gym (owned and managed by Mr. Miguel “Mike” Jara) in Alum Rock, East San Jose, a fit welterweight-looking gent with dark shades, white slacks and pressed white long sleeves complete with a folded San Jose Mercury newspaper introduced himself almost in a whisper.
The gait was smooth, the smile was warm, the grip was firm, self-assured.
“Anybody who loves boxing is a friend of mine. This is Luisito Espinosa. Everyone calls him Louie,” my affable father said as he slathered vaseline on our boxer’s face.
“My friends call me ‘Love’. I’m here to meet the bantamweight champion Al Corona calls ‘Earthquake’,“ 1said the man who called our house earlier.
He was and forever will be Mr. Sumo Pappoe “Love” Allotey, the same man who twice fought our great countryman Gabriel “Flash” Elorde.
Love Allotey was a professional fighter born on December 16, 1936 in Ghana and passed away in April 1,1996 (age 59) in San Jose, California.
He was a formidable fighter in the featherweight (126), super-featherweight (130), lightweight (135) division and went as far as the (147) welterweight division because the champions then were reluctant to stake their crowns what with his offensive skills. He spoke six languages---English, Spanish, Danish, Tagalog, Italian and his native Twi. His career spanned the nineteen-fifties, sixties and seventies unable to secure and win a world title.
Along the way he garnered the Ghanian featherweight and the British Commonwealth lightweight crowns and challenged for the British Commonwealth feather title. His boxing record stands at a respectable 38 Wins (KO 5), 19 Losses (KO 1), 3 Draws (Total fights 60)
The closest Mr. Love Allotey came to boxing glory was in a rematch for the WBC 130-lb. super-featherweight crown against the great Gabriel “Flash” Elorde in the Philippines.
When asked how the fight unfolded, he said,” I had Bai going. I was ready to finish him in the 11th when the referee stepped in. He said it was for aggressive fighting. He was right. Bai and I were playing for keeps, not playing golf. Bai Elorde was a great champion.”
The sparring sessions (total 12) between Louie Espinosa and the Mexican warriors were fast and furious, better than most main events we see nowadays.
The first four rounds Luisito went up against were (126 lb.) Maui Diaz, the next four and four were with (122 lb.) Gerardo Martinez and then (126 lb.) Hector Lizarraga respectively.
Just as the last round tolled, Mr. Love Allotey said something my father and I have kept between us all these years.
“Please tell the family of Bai Elorde I appreciate what they’ve done in bringing back boxing in the Bay Area. You know, it’s been a while since a Filipino fought here and it’s special that the Elordes are the ones to bring it back. I love Bai and his family are tops. They’ve treated me well despite what happened. By the way, would you folks mind if you give them these? I know they’d understand.”
Mr. Love Allotey was referring to the sparring gloves he used for the second Elorde fight.
The mementos are unsigned.
For this Filipino boxing fan, however, the gloves are authentic and with story my father and I were lucky to be a part of.
I kindly ask Mr. Dong Secuya to take care of the gloves as they await transit to the waiting arms of the Elorde family for the upcoming (postponed) Gabriel “Flash” Elorde awards night.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Emmanuel Rivera, RRT.
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