Who Are Your Past and Current Favorite Boxers?

By Boxing News - 11/10/2022 - Comments

By Ken Hissner:  Growing up, I watched television and got to like certain boxers. Looking back, I got to meet two of my three all-time favorites.

I watched my all-time favorite Puerto Rico born living in New York boxer Carlos Ortiz, 35-4, defeat Joe “Old Bones” Brown, 102-22-12, for the WBA Lightweight title in April of 1962 while I was still a senior in high school.

Ortiz had beaten Kenny Lane, 57-6, for the vacant world Light Welterweight title in 1959. He reversed an earlier loss to Lane.

In June in San Francisco, Ortiz defeated Italy’s Duilio Loi, 102-1-7, by a split decision. In Italy, he lost his title to Loi in September by majority decision and again tried to regain the title in Italy in May of 1961, losing again by decision.

In the sixth defense of his lightweight title, Ortiz lost to Ismael Laguna, 38-2, in Panama by a majority decision in 1965. He regained the title later in the year in Puerto Rico. In his twelfth defense, he lost to Dominican Carlos Teo Cruz by a split decision in 1968. He never got a rematch. His final record was 61-7-1 with 30 kos.

On my lone trip to the IBHOF in 2011 in New York, I met Ortiz and his wife. They were both very gracious.

My second all-time favorite was former welterweight champion Kid “The Cuban Hawk” Gavilan, who won the vacant (“Sugar” Ray Robinson won the middleweight title and vacated it) title in defeating Johnny Bratton, 44-16-2 at Madison Square Garden in May of 1951.
Gavilan was famous for the “bolo punch,” similar to a right uppercut.

Cutting sugar cane in his native Cuba helped develop it, I was told. Gavilan finished his career with a 108-30-5 record with 28 kos.

I first met Gavilan at Muhammad Ali’s Deer Lake, PA, training camp. I would later visit him at his apartment in Harrisburg, PA, in April of 1978, carrying a Ring Record Encyclopedia under my arm. I asked what he was doing, and he said, “I’m writing about Blinky Palermo (mobster who managed Johnny Saxton who robbed Gavilan of his title) and Fidel Castro (who stole all his land in Cuba). I told him, “I hope you live to write it!”

I asked Gavilan if he had a copy of his record, and he said he didn’t. I told him it was in this book I have, and he asked if he could borrow it. I told him, “no,” and hesitated and said, “but I’ll give it to you!” It was a copy I had. He was kind enough to give me a signed picture “to my very good friend Ken.”

YouTube video

My third all-time favorite though I never met, was welterweight champion Cuba’s Louis “El Feo” Rodriguez winning the WBA and WBC titles in March of 1963, defeating Emile Griffith, whom he had lost to earlier in his first defeat after going 35-0. He would lose his title to Griffith and again attempt to win the title back in a fight I felt he won. Not seeing him win the title, I heard it was a disputed decision.

When Rodriguez lost in 1969 to middleweight champion Nino Benvenutti in Italy, every time he started landing punches, the Italian referee stepped in. He finally got stopped late in the eleventh round.
His final record was 107-13 with 49 KOs. He was inducted into the IBHOF in 1997.

Please comment on whoever your favorites are.