Flash Elorde and the Araneta Coliseum: A Decade of Glorious Cooperation
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Sat, 25 Mar 2023
Elorde knocks out Gomes during the inaugural opening of the Araneta Coliseum on March 16, 1960.
Gabriel Flash Elorde fittingly won the world junior lightweight championship in the inauguration of the Araneta Coliseum on March 16, 1960.
Little did he and his father in law promoter Papa Lope Sarreal imagine that it will be the start of more than a decade of cooperation as Elorde fought 14 more times at the famed dome arena, including one of his three last fights when he was no longer world champion and nearing his retirement.
The latter only attested to the Filipinos' abiding love for Da Flah even as he was on the way out of boxing and the public's identification of Araneta Coliseum as prime venue for big time sports event.
How did the Araneta Coliseum as it was known then started?
From Wikipedia, we got the following information:
"In 1952, J. Amado Araneta, a member of the Araneta family, purchased from Radio Corporation of America (RCA) 35 hectares (86 acres) of land in Cubao which includes the Araneta family home and is bounded by Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue or EDSA, Aurora Boulevard, P. Tuazon and 15th Avenue.
The Araneta Coliseum was constructed from 1957 to late 1959 and designed and built by Architect Dominador Lacson Lugtu and Engineer Leonardo Onjunco Lugtu. From 1960 to 1963, the Coliseum received international recognition and was recognized as the largest covered coliseum in the world. Today, it remains one of the largest clear span domes in the world with a dome diameter of 108 meters. It occupies a total land area of almost 40,000 square meters (430,000 sq ft) and has a floor area of 23,000 square meters (250,000 sq ft).
The coliseum opened on March 16, 1960, with Gabriel "Flash" Elorde boxing for the World Junior Lightweight crown against Harold Gomes. General admission then was 80 centavos, and the reserve section was five pesos. The coliseum also featured a swimming pool and a gazebo during its opening, located to the current site of the Araneta City Parking Garage South and the Novotel Manila Araneta City. However, the featured facilities closed down a few years later."
Among the notable events to take place at the arena were the 11th and 34th FAMAS Awards, the 1975 "Thrilla in Manila" boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, in which the arena was renamed into the "Philippine Coliseum", and the annual Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant. The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has played more than a thousand games at the Araneta Coliseum as of today. Other basketball events hosted by the arena were the 1978 FIBA World Championship, a game between the 1978 NBA champions Washington Bullets and a PBA selection in 1979, and the 1982 Asian Youth Basketball Championship where the Philippines defeated China in the final.
The Araneta Coliseum in 1960.
The Araneta Coliseum today.
After his rousing debut at the Araneta Coliseum where he won the world junior lightweight championship, Elorde fought 45 more bouts till his retirement in early 1970s. But Elorde fought 14 or almost a third of these fights at the Araneta Coliseum.
Most of these occurred during his championship heydays as both world junior lightweight titlist and at the same time as Oriental lightweight titleholder, a trinket he had held in the late 50s yet.
These included his fights against Terou Kosaka and Suh Kang Il in Oriental and world title defenses, Love Allotey in a non title bout later in a world title fight, title defenses versus Giordano Campari Vicente Rivas, and Vicente Derado and important fight against then top ratedvand soon to become world lightweight champion Ismael Laguna of Panama.
Elorde never lost at the Araneta until his non title overweight fight versus Jaguar Kakizawa when he was already no longer a world champion and near the end of his storied career.
That loss which was his fourth straight in his last five outings including his title defeat to Toshiaki Numata in Japan convinced the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) to consider and later withdraw his boxing license to force his retirement at then already old age of 36.
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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