This article is from 1981 and is a time capsule of boxing in Los Angeles in the early eighties. Many of the fighters mentioned in this article are the fighters we love to write about. It's a bit long but I think you'll enjoy it. Courtesy of Bigtimefighter.com. Randy
It Happened in California
By: Jess Hernandez
Boxing fans are a special kind of breed. They are totally dedicated to the manly art of self defense. The fact is many fans carry their love of the sport too far and extreme. Some fans love to argue who was the greatest fighter of all-time. Some who visit the Main St. Gym in Los Angeles even carry a boxing encyclopedia who backup their knowledge of the sport. The gymnasium is the place where old timer's argue about the fistic merits of yesterday and today's ringmen. "Was Joe Louis the greatest fighter of all-" hollers 75 year old Duke
Holloway. Holloway trained Archie Moore, Harold Dade and Sugar Ray Robinson. "No, Louis wasn't the greatest, Sugar Ray Robinson was the.best of all-time" whispers old timer Rip. Rip is the doorman at the Main St. Gym.
When discussing the greatest Mexican fighter of all time inside the gym a guy needs a security guard for protection. In the back room of the gym guys like Frank Williams and Bob Armstrong reply that Manuel Ortiz was the greatest. "Ortiz could do it all, he could box, punch and had plenty of durability. Hell, he was bantamweight champion for eight years," replied Frank Williams. If Ortiz was the best fighter of Mexican descent then who was the second best? "I would nominate Baby Arizmendi as the second best. He beat Henry Armstrong three times and fought guys like Lou Ambers, Sammy Angott, Mike Belloise. He was N.B.A.
featherweight champ in 1934," said manager Larry Soto. Soto trained Jose Becerra to bantamweight crown and also worked with Battling Torres.
The subject that comes up frequently inside a gymnasium is the subject of good trainers. One of the outstanding trainers in Los Angeles is Al DeNava. "I look for coordination and execution in a fighter. A fighter can punch hard but he needs coordination and execution to put it all together, said DeNava. Like I said, boxing fans are a special kind of breed. They will fight and argue all day about who was the best. But they are also good sports and will shake hands when all the arguments are over! Managing good fighters can sometimes be just a streak of good luck. Like being at the right place at right time. Manager Bennie Georgino seems to have been at the right place when Howie Steindler died in 1976. Georgino inherited featherweight champ Danny Lopez. It wasn't just luck that made Lopez a rich champion. It was the shrewd management of Georgino that
made Lopez a millionaire. Georgino seems to be one of the few pilots who cares what happens to his stable of ringmen when when they retire." I see to it that my fighters save their money don't let them waste it way," commented Bennie. Georgino has paid his dues to boxing. He was a pretty good amateur boxer in the 1930s and sparred with Lou Ambers when Herkimer Buzzsaw defended lightweight crown against Henry Armstrong in 1938. Georgino created some jealously because his fighters like Herman Kid Montes, Jaime Garza, Oscar Muniz, Rodrigo Aguirre, Johnny Montes are progressing. Right now, I would nominate Jaime Garza as the
ringman to inherit the prestige of retired Danny Lopez. Garza has the fire power to defeat any guy who gets in the ring with him. Jaime is the terror of the 126 pound class with 22 KOs in 24 fights. Garza is now after top notchers like Carlos Mendoza and Juan (Kid) Meza. Albert Davila seems to be just about ready to join his stablemate Danny Lopez in the retirement barn.
Hector Cortez the outstanding 130 pounder from Ecuador seems to come up with good fights when needed. He just whipped tough Rolando Navarette in Hawaii in 10 rounds. The victory could get Cortez at featherweight champ Salvador Sanchez who defended his title against Roberto Castanon in Las Vegas. Don Georgino promoted the Sanchez-Castanon for Five-Star Calvacade.
Have you ever noticed how many ex-fighters own cocktail bars? Georgie Levine who fought Pete Ado for welterweight diadem in 1927 has the popular Blackhawk Bar - in Hollywood. Georgie Latka the professor of boxing in the 30s and 40s has a bar in Huntington Beach, Calif. Tony DeMarco runs a bar in Phoenix, Arizona and Eddie Marcus who was a stablemate of Manuel Ortiz manages a cocktail bar in Las Vegas. Poor Bobby Chacon had two opponents pull out on him in fights in one week. That's one reason why so many fighters become discouraged and retire. There is too much inconsistency in getting fights and too many fighters get
injured while training. Frankie Duarte hasn't had a fight in over eight months and the minute he got a fight his opponent was hurt!
Heavyweight champ Larry Holmes maintains that this will be his last year in boxing. If Larry retires will he rate with Joe Louis and Muhammad All as an all-time champ. After all, Holmes appears to be within reach of being undefeated in his career.
Is Bazooka Limon a gentleman? Not if you ask manager Mickey Duff."Limon said he was going to kill my fighter Cornelius Boza Edwards. I was shocked by Limon's statement. But the threat backfired and my fighter won the title from Limon," replied Mickey Duff. Bobby Chacon wanted Limon to whip Edwards but it didn't happen. "I hope Limon wins so I can beat the hell out of him. I just want the chance to punish him. He's a discredit to our sport," said Chacon.
Bobby Chacon will get his long awaited shot at the world super lightweight title but it won't be against Bazooka Limon. The man Chacon will be fighting for the crown is unheralded Cornelius-Boza-Edwards who defeated Limon for the title in 15 exciting rounds in Stockton, Calif "I told Corny at the end, you've got him stay away from him, and he told me, no he was going to punch the hell out of him," said manager Mickey Duff. Bazooka Limon was knocked down in the fifth round by a lethal left hand. It appeared then that Limon would not weather
the storm of lefts and rights. But he got up determined to turn the tide of battle. Limon thought he had won the fight. "I felt that I carried the last three rounds and won the fight," Limon said. "I tried to postpone the fight
because I felt I wasn't ready. I didn't feel I was ready. This was an obligation title defense. I'm usually better prepared," Bazooka exclaimed. 25 year old Conelius Boza Edwards will defend the title against Bobby Chacon later this year." Cornelius is strong and dedicated to boxing. He can willingly win three title and get down to 126 pounds easily. We'll challenge Salvador Sanchez for title," replied Mickey Duff.
What is the price a professional fighter pays for ring inactivity? As lightweight Herman (Kid) Montes who just barely beat workhorse Jimmy Blevins at the Olympic Arena. And Blevins isn't even in the top twenty lightweights. Montes huffed and puffed to a 10 round split decision his first match in nearly 10 months. There is no substitute in boxing for ring activity. We don't know what Montes problem has been in laying off for 10 months but he'll have to remain active to challenge for the lightweight crown. "I was rusty and I got tired," said Montes. Montes has a ring ledger of 35-1-2. "I thought I was in good enough shape but I know I could have been busier in there,' added Herman. Referee Marty Denkin had the winner ahead, 96-95. Judge Jim Jen-Ken had Montes ahead, 95-84 with judge Vince Degado scoring for Montes 96-95. The surprise fighter of the night was Jolting Joe Kowalski the 135 pounder from Glendale. Joe scored a thunderous two round knockout triumph over Izy Amenta to notch his second straight win as a pro. Kowalski is trained by Manny Vasquez and gets better with every bout. He spars frequently with Herman Montes at Main St. Gym and the workouts have payed off for 22 year old Joey.
Rodrigo Aguirre ran his winning - streak to 23 wins in 26 fights with a 10 round win over veteran Roy Hernandez. Aguirre a classy 132 pounder is ready for the likes of Hector Cortez who holds the U.S. super-lightweight title. Felipe Canela, 140, stopped Eric Bonilla in five rounds to argument his ring ledger to
9-0-1. Canela is a corking 140 pounder managed by Larry Soto who developed Jose Becerra to the Bantamweight title and also trained Battling Torres to contending Carlos Ortiz for world jr. welterweight diadem. Two-fisted Felipe has the ring skills to move up the fistic ladder in months to come.
Classy Fidel Fraijo, 135, is looking for a return match with Johnny Montes who knocked him out. Fidel claims he wasn't in top condition when he fought Montes who 10-0. Jaime Garza the 122 pound terror is demanding action with veteran ringmen like Jose Cervantes, Carlos Mendoza and J uan (Kid) Meza. Kleber Viteri who had amateur record of 31-4 pulled out of his bout with Ruber (Baby Face) Castillo. Joey Kowalski scored a stunning four round win over Jose Gonzales in his professional debut. Also winning handily in pro debut was Randell Williams a corking light-heavyweight trained by Al DeNava. Ricardo Montalnado is the manager of ex-champion Bazooka Limon. What has happened to Bernardo Mercado? Eddie (Animal) Lopez is weighing around 245
pounds which is too much poundage for him. Frankie Duarte who fought a losing fight in Honolulu, Hawaii, got in trouble with manager Ralph Gambina. What happens to a fighter like Joey Olivo and Albert Davila who both fought in title matches and lost? Do they both have the same determination and desire like before? Davila fought for the bantamweight title three times and may just hang up his gloves. Olivo feels he will get a second shot at crown and win it. However, Joey must maintain a winning attitude and keep busy with winning fights to assure himself of another title match. It could be pretty tough and frustrating for a fighter losing in a championship bout. The majority of fighters seldom get a world title match in their careers.
What has happened to the career of Bruce Curry? Curry was recently kayoed by unknown fighter. Another welterweight on the downgrade is Zeffie Gonzales. Welterweight Pablo Baez is one tough hombre inside the ring. Pablo stopped Jose Palacios in two rounds and now wants Randy Shields.
The most awesome newcomer in fistic ranks is welterweight Rick Holder. Rick has notched two quick knockouts in pro career. Watch out for this kayo artist. Randell Williams the handsome 175 pounder trainer by Al DeNava scored a victory in hit initial pro debut. Six-foot Randell hat a fast-pair of hands, quick moves and a stout heart. Felipe Canela the Colton Comet is the apple of Larry Soto's eye. Felipe is 9-0-1 in his pro career. Estaban Agundez from El Monte, Calif. was 4-0 in the semifinals of Golden Gloves in bantamweight class. Estaban is a
hard puncher who likes to work the body of opponent over. He appears destined for stardom in professional field under trainer Ernie Castenada. Ex boxer Abel Fernandez a good 175 pounder who headlined at Olympic Auditorium back in 1950s is now turning movie work. Remember when Abel was starring in the gangster series Untouchables on TV with Bob Stack? Abel recently appeared in cameo role on Lou Grant show.
Publicist Van Barbieri who was the Olympic Auditorium public relations man for 13-years resigned his job to seek challenges. In a way Barbieri was a casualty in the reorganization policy of the New Olympic Sports Arena. Like promoter Aileen Eaton, Barbieri was forced to release his many duties as public relations man with the L A. press. Van was one of the best liked and most competent publicists in the business. His replacement is Bill Caplan who formerly handled the press relations for Anaheim Convention Center.
Paul (Superfly) Gonzalez is the star to watch in the amateurs. He's got all the fistic tools to make it big in the -pros. Estaban Agundez has a record of 18- wins and three losses in the amateurs. The bantamweight - star from El Monte, Calif. is trained by Ernie Castenada. Also in stable are Jesse Olivares, 4-1, Jose Rodriguez,
14-4 and Juan Rodriguez who is 4-0. Rocky Part 111 will go before the cameras at Main St. Gym with Sly
Stallone-starring. Al DeNava the impeccable trainer has finished a role in remake of fight movie Body And Soul.
Its all in the family in the boxing whirligig. Like father like son goes the boxing tradition. How many father-son boxing combinations can you recall? How about Lenny and Ray (Boom, Booms Mancini. Well the latest son of a famous fighter to launch a fistic career is Robert Folley the son of Zora Folley the heavyweight from Chandler, Arizona. Robert a dandy middleweight is 22 years old, 5-11, 160 pounds and trains at the Main St. Gym. In 62 amateur bouts Robert Folley scored victory after victory with only 4 ring defeats. He is certain to stir up some action among the world's top 160 pounders. Eddie Marcus who was a topnotch fighter and referee . in California. in the 30s and 40s is now the owner of the cocktail bar in Las Vegas. Rick Mills and Roger Braxton did a TV commercial for films at the popular Main St. Gym. Al De Nava the popular trainer of champions is now doing acting work in Hollywood. Al has a neat role in the upcoming remake of boxing film Body And Soul which won plaudits for late John Garfield. Film was shot at Main St. Gym. Sylvester Stallone and Burgess Meridith will do a sequel of the successful blockbusting film "Rocky Part II."
Promoter Tony Trudnich of Las Vegas has had tremendous success at the box office with Jorge Morales alias the "Dynamite Kid." Marshall Wright, founder of the world-reknowned Boxing Hall of Fame is launching amateur boxing at Jeffries Barn in Burbank, Calif. Jeffries Barn was the mecca of amateur boxing in 30s and 40s with Manuel Ortiz, Eddie Marcus, Red Shannon, Joey Barnum, Art Aragon launching careers in Burbank Arena. Former light-heavyweight champ Joey Maxim is working in Las Vegas' Tropicana Hotel and former champ Ralph Dupas is now a security guard in Las Vegas.
Fight manager Larry Soto is training jr. lightweight Felipe Canela who will headline for Don Georgino when Don promotes fights at Olympic Sports Center. Soto trained former bantamweight champ Jose Becerra in 1959 when Jose won the world's bantamweight diadem from Alphonse Halimi in Los Angeles. Soto who is the brother of Memo Soto also handled jr. welterweight Battling Torres who fought Carlos Ortiz the ex-lightweight titlist for jr welter title in 1959. Canela a dandy fighter has notched over ten victories and headlined the main go at San
Bernardino Arena last year. He is 10-l in his ring career and only 20 years old Ellis career appears promising under the tutelage of Larry Soto.
Rodriguez (Rod) Aguirre was born in Juarez, Mexico and his ring ledger is 25-2-l. In the amateur the 130 pounder was 21-3 and took a pair of Golden Glove titles. "Rodrigo can beat any 130 pounder in the world when he's in top physical condition, commented manager Ben Georgino.
Julio Floras is training newcomer Sonny Flores, a nifty lightweight who comes from Michigan. Sonnet once defeated Tommy Hearns in the amateurs. 21 year old Flores sparred with terror Jaime Garza at Main St. Gym. Tlie more I see of Johnny Montes Jr. the 19 year old lightweight the better I like him. If Johnny can beat fighters like Fidel Fraijo who had 40 pro fights he definitely is headed for stardom. Johnny is only 19 years old and is
12-0 in his career.
Joe Kowalski, 21, a terrific 135 pounder is managed and trained by veteran Manny Vasquez. Joe is following the footsteps of his dad who was a professional boxer. "My parents told me it was up to me to fight, if that's what I wanted. My girl friend who is a professional dancer is on my side. I think I can amount to something if I dedicated myself to boxing," said Joe. Joe was 3-3 in the amateurs and manager Manny Vasquez is optimistic that the hard socking Kowalski will surface as a good pro.
Oscar Muniz is after a shot at bantamweight crown after his stablemate Albert Davila was repulsed in bid for W.B.C. bantamweight diadem. Oscar could mount the bantam weight throne room if given a chance this year. Red Shannon is training Rudy Hernandez at Olympic Gym in his comeback attempt to regain his ring wizardry and prowess.
Rudy Hernandez the flashy ir welterweight will make his initial start for manager Red Shannon very soon. Rudy once reeled off 23 straight wins before he was upset by Jimmy Heair in a controversial 10 rounder in Los Angeles.
The new Olympic Sports Arena on the famous corner of 18th and Grand in Los Angeles has taken on an entertainment look. According to manager Bill Griffith, the Olympic Arena will not be confined to sports alone. "We expect to showcase the best entertainment in the world. Rock concerts, ice palaces, you name it and we'll feature it," said Bill. The Olympic Auditorium was founded in 1925 when Dick Donald was the promoter. One of the early ring heroes was fabled Bert Colima the "Whittier Flash." Bert was born in Colima, Mexico but moved to
Los Angeles in the late 1920s.
Manager Paddy Millon believes that Wellyn Gilliam a nifty 156 pounder will climb the stairway to fame in boxing.Other ringmen in- the Dillon stable are Jan William, 147, Lessie Powell, 135 and Dahi Williams a terrific 160
The Greatest Paying My Respect · Happy Birthday to the "Greatest" Muhammad Ali. There will ...
By Randy De La O My earliest memories of the old Main Street Gym in Los Angeles are of my father and I going there to watch the fighters w...
Photo courtesy of Rick Farris 1969 Southern Pacific A.A.U. Champions, El Monte Legion Stadium (top row) Pete Despart, ?, ?, Mike Quarry, ...