Thursday, June 07, 2018

Book Review: Latino Boxing in Southern California

Latino Boxing in Southern California

Author: Gene Aguilera
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing

Carlos Palomino vs Wilfredo Rivera
Olympic Auditorium 1998

By Randy De La O

"The other night I had a dream I fought Rafeal Herrera. And you know what? He knocked me out again. Not even in my dreams can I beat this guy."  -Ruben Olivares

Author Gene Aguilera's latest book on boxing: Latino Boxing in Southern California (Arcadia Publishing) is another fistic hit. Following on the heels of his previous book, "Mexican American Boxing in Los Angeles", Aguilera has positioned himself as one of the premiere chroniclers of boxing in the Southland and specifically the boxing world as seen through the eyes of the Latino boxing community.

This book, like so many of the fighters he writes about, has heart. I can appreciate that. Growing up in the Los Angeles area and having a father who was a boxer in the U.S. Army and a lifelong fan of boxing, it was hard not to become a fan and for a brief time; a boxer. I am familiar with many of the names mentioned in the book. It brings the past alive for me. Names like Roberto Duran, Art Aragon, Ruben Olivares, Bobby Chacon, Alexis Arguello, Lauro Salas, Julio Cesar Chavez, Salvador Sanchez and so many more fill the pages of his book, as well as such venues as; the Olympic Auditorium, the Fabulous Forum, the Los Angeles Sports Arena and the Main Street Gym. All familiar names to West Coast boxing fans.

He takes us on a chronological journey through time beginning with the early years of boxing in Southern California in the 1900's and the ensuing decades. That Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans and Latinos in general have become a dominate force in boxing is beyond dispute. They were exciting times and Southern California was the center of it all. He chronicles that rise in his book.

The book has something for boxing fans at any level and is filled with plenty of photos; fight posters, programs  and magazine covers, as well as personal photos of the author in his younger days.

Mr. Aguilera uses his personal experience and his own encyclopediac sense of boxing history to produce another fine book on Los Angeles and Southern California's proper place in boxing's storied history. It is a good read and what's more, it is a book my father would have loved. Do yourself a favor and get a copy.


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