Daza backs Garcia for Hall of Fame
By Joaquin Henson
Thu, 30 Jul 2020
ABAP vice chairman Raul Daza is a man of integrity, action and principles. During a long distinguished career as a public servant, he never changed political colors, staying loyal to the Liberal Party from his first term as Congressman in 1969 through three terms as Governor of Northern Samar until his retirement at the House of Representatives in 2019. So when he speaks, you listen.
Daza, 85, was intensely involved in pro boxing before entering politics. For seven years, he owned a stable called D’Diamonds with about 12 fighters, including Flash Elorde’s cousin junior welterweight Rocky Alarde, middleweight Terry Flores and bantamweight Bonnie Borromeo. That was during the administration of the late GAB chairman Jun Montano. When Daza decided to run for Congressman in 1967 in a special election to serve the unexpired term of the deceased incumbent, he gave up his stable to focus on politics and do justice to his boxers whom he entrusted to his friends active in the sport. As it turned out, Daza lost in his first bid for Congress but in 1969, he unseated Eusebio Moore, the same man who had beaten him two years before.
Daza said he’ll never forget the good old days of boxing in the ‘60s. “My UP high school classmate Gen. Ramon Farolan was assigned in Bangkok with SEATO when I took my fighter Bonnie to fight a Thai,” he said. “I invited Ramon to watch the fight and he was at ringside. I was in Bonnie’s corner. I never expected that in the second or third round, Bonnie was knocked out cold. The referee could’ve counted to 50 and Bonnie would’ve still been flat on the canvas. Today, when Ramon and I get together, we still talk about that knockout.” Daza said Japanese promoter Takafusa Kawarai used to bring Filipino fighters abroad, including Alarde who stopped Makoto Watanabe to win the OPBF superlightweight crown in 1966. “Takafusa was married to a Filipina and eventually settled in Manila,” he said. “We’re grateful to him for opening the doors for a lot of Filipino fighters.” Today, Daza continues to support boxing through ABAP.
Daza said he remembers meeting former world middleweight champion Ceferino Garcia during his visit to Manila in 1964. “I was at the Besa Arena, now the Metropolitan Theater, with Rod Nazario and Mamerto Besa one afternoon,” he said. “In those days, there were only two big boxing gyms where the best fighters went----Besa and Araneta. Pang-masa yung Besa kasi Araneta was open only to their fighters trained by an American, DeeDee Armour. Garcia dropped by and I was introduced to him. He was pure Filipino, born in Biliran, but spoke with an American accent. Garcia invented the bolo punch and demonstrated it to us. I’d never seen anything like it. It was surgical, like a bolo stabbing deep into the belly with a little curve from down to upwards. The way he threw it, the punch packed a lot of power and was fast. I saw it like an inward uppercut.”
Daza said Garcia talked about his fights against Hall of Famers Barney Ross and Henry Armstrong. Although he never defeated either, Garcia was the first man to floor Ross and once drew with Armstrong. The man he dethroned as world middleweight champion Fred Apostoli is in the International Boxing Hall of Fame but Garcia isn’t. “Garcia struck me as well-mannered, a gentleman to the core,” he said. “For what he’s done for boxing, as a former world champion, as the only Filipino to win the middleweight title, as the inventor of the bolo punch, as someone who was revered in his prime around the world, surely, he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.”
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