About a week ago I asked Hap Navarro to write something for me on the 1951 fight between Enrique Bolanos vs Eddie Chavez, the main, and Keeny Teran vs Gil Cadilli on the semi and he e-mail me this today, this boxing card sticks in my mind above all of the fight cards that I seen, I was there that nite to see Bolanos and Keeny, both were in great fights.
The Fight for Lives benefit show was a Hollywood Legion Stadium annual event looked forward to with great anticipation by the L.A. fans since 1943, when it had its very humble inception. The first two shows didn't have a 10-round feature bout, just three 3 eights and 3 fours. They were meant to be talent shows, not artistic galas.
But the people in charge of the promotion, a prestigious Sportsmen's Club, persisted in elevating the event to an annual feature, which they soon did in no uncertain manner.The beneficiary was always the same: all proceeds went to the City of Hope Children's Hospital located at Duarte, east of Los Angeles.
.In time it grew to become the outstanding benefit boxing show in the southland, rivaling in prestige, if not in magnitude, the famed Milk Fund Show held annually at Madison Square Garden, in New York. The Legion Stadium turned out to be the ideal venue for the evemt, as many of the program directors were established business men in the film city. Because of that sellouts on fight night presented no problem.
The Legion Post's association with the sponsors only ended when a rift developed between the Legion board and a local managers' guild. Rather than become involved in controversy, the FFL directprs chose to move crosstown to the Olympic Auditorium.
The last time the FFL ws held in Hollywood was on June 22, 1951 when Enrique Bolanos and Eddie Chavez
clashed in a rematch of their corking battle held at San Jose the previous March. Interestingly, despite the obvious caliber of the two main eventers, Bolanos and Chavez, plus the added distance of two rounds, it was generally believed by the mass that attended the show it was the six round semi-final that lured a capacity crowd to the club that night.
I had suggested to Matchmaker Cal Working that I thought we could match Keeny Teran with Gil Cadilli, six rounds, at 118 pounds. Cal sorta threw his hands up saying the fight could not be made because of Gil's manager, Johnny Forbes, who had also developed Keeny from his earliest days. Forbes was a stickler for weight limitations, and he figured we would ask Cadilli to trim down to flyweight for the match. I had envisioned th efight for so long that I tried not to be dissuaded, even if we had to pay them each more than scale. (Which we did)
In time, Johnny relented and I had them sign at 119 lbs. Forbes actually thought he had gained an added advantage for his boy because boxing contracts in those days allowed a leeway of "give or take a pound", so he figured his kid would come into the ring at 120, a decided weight edge over flyweight Keeny.
The rest is trivial history, of sourse, with one notable exception.......Cadilli actually weighed in at 118 lbs, one pound lighter than the contracted weight,
Some people have told me that the fight ws one of the greatest-paced matches over the six round distance, and I really believe that to be true. The fight ebbed and flowed, but it was a closely contested match between two superbly conditioned youngsters on the threshold of main event stardom. And being a filght fan first, it will always stay in my mind. I could feel the respect the local fight mob, those who knew it was my baby, accorded me from that day forward.
For the record, Keeny Teran was a diamond in the rough. He had it all, if only fleetingly. You don't see wonders like that very often and I'm glad I had the privilege of making him Flyweight Champion of the United States.
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