Spanish-Language Historical Publication To Feature Elorde as Among Golden Era Best; How About March as National Boxing Month?
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Sat, 06 Mar 2021
Gabriel 'Flash' Elorde.
It took a pleasantly surprising email from a Spanish boxing analyst by the name of David Sant to remind me that March has come once again and it is the month we usually commemorate the late Gabriel Flash Elorde, the first Filipino fighter to truly put the Philippines in the global boxing map in the late 50s through much of the 60s.
Señor Sant is a boxing analyst for the Golden Era page in Spanish which is publishing a history of Filipino boxing and in particular the career of Flash Elorde who he characterized as a fighter who took on all comers not for the money but for pride and honor of his country.
He has gathered enough data on how boxing was introduced to Filipinos, ironically at the end of the Spanish rule and start of the American colonization of the Philippines in the early 1900s.
He has also amassed data to discuss the career of Pancho Villa (Francisco Guilledo), the first Filipino and Asian world boxing champion who captured the heart and imagination of the American as well as European, mainly British fight fans in the 1920s.
Elorde and Villa though separated by some forty years, fought in an era when there was just one universally recognized world champion for each of the then eight, later eleven boxing weight divisions. They fought at the time when championship bouts were fought over 15 rounds and official weigh-ins were held in the day of the fight.
Elorde was contemporary to many of the later recognized as all time greats as Muhammad Ali, Fighting Harada, Sandy Saddler and Carlos Ortiz, the last two he actually fought, not once but twice.
Señor Sant said that he came to know me when he came across some of my history oriented articles, including those on Flash Elorde at philboxing.com which he said would be useful in his feature on the Filipino fighter.
However, he was particularly keen on interviewing a relative of Da Flash "to make known to Hispanic and Latino people how Elorde is a hero of the Golden era."
After prior consultation, I promptly gave him the email address of and requested him to touch base with Madam Liza Elorde, Bay Elorde's daughter in law, a long time acquaintance who I know is not only knowledgeable but very conversant about the life and career of his departed father-in-law having been among the major stewards of the Elorde legacy through the Annual Elorde Awards/ Banquet of Champions.
Had Madam Laura, Da Flash's devoted wife and acknowledged Grand Matriarch of Philippine Boxing, been still with us today, she would have been the perfect resource person for the interview. But she passed away May last year at a ripe age of 92.
One radio interview we had with her years back that brings smile to my face whenever I recall it was when she disclosed that she was never bothered when Elorde loses a fight in Japan "because every time Bay fought there, he was usually going up against five people--- his opponent, the referee and the three judges, all Japanese." But one fight where Madam Laura said she prayed fervently was when Elorde defended his world title for the last time versus Yoshiaki Numata in Japan on June 1967. That night, tears fell from her eyes and from the eyes many Filipinos, including my own now dear departed mother, Remedios when it was announced that Da Flash had lost the fight and his world title.
I believe Madam Liza would be able to convey to Señor Sant for Hispanic and Latino audience the greatness of Gabriel Flash Elorde as an athlete and a person and how he was considered and still considered even today as a hero for his ring feats and altruistic charitable works outside the ring.
Speaking of March, known for decades now as Fire Prevention Month, would it not be appropriate to also designate it as National Boxing Month in honor of Flash Elorde--- and other Filipino world champions after him?
Elorde was born on this month, March 25, 1935 to a large, impoverished family in Bogo, Cebu. He won the world junior lightweight championship also on this month, March 16, 1960 by knocking out American defending titlist Harold Gomes at the then newly inaugurated Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City, ending years of our drought in world boxing crown in the post war period.
Da Flash was the pride and joy of Filipinos of all classes, faith and persuasion for seven long years from 1960 to 1967 when he held with honor and distinction the world junior lightweight championship, the longest on record to this day.
Looking into his fight resume, I discovered that Elorde also fought a number of bouts in March and won all of them including title victories over Gomes and Joey Lopez (world), Tommy Romulo (GAB) and Ismael Laguna (world lightweight title eliminator).
Now, Elorde as few other Filipinos before him as Dr Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar and Juan Luna, has even gained the admiration of a Spanish media specializing in featuring the golden era of Hispanic and Latino culture and legacy.
Is it not about time we do the same for Elorde?
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at email@example.com and by phone 09215309477.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.
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