Hall of Fame Friday: Kid Gavilan
THE RING magazine features a thumbnail biography of a ring great who has received the ultimate honor: induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y.
Birthdate: Jan. 6, 1926
Date of death: Camaguey, Cuba
Nickname: Feb. 13, 2003
Weight class: Welterweight
Professional record: 107-30-6 (28 knockouts)
Titles: World welterweight (May 18, 1951-Oct. 20, 1954)
Best performances: Carmen Basilio (W 15), Ike Williams (W 10, W 10), Beau Jack (W 10), Ray Robinson (L 15), Johnny Bratton (W 15, W 15), Billy Graham (W 10, W 15, W 15), Gil Turner (KO 11), Walter Cartier (KO 10), Chuck Davey (KO 10), Tony Janiro (W 10, KO 4).
Year of IBHOF induction: 1990
Background: One of the most popular fighters of the early years of TV boxing, eventually appearing in 34 televised bouts ÔÇª Born Gerardo Gonzalez, he began boxing at the age of 12 and turned pro at 16, on June 5, 1943 ÔÇª Named after a Havana caf├® called El Gavilan (the hawk), which was owned by his first manager, Fernando Balido ÔÇª Developed a flamboyant, crowd-pleasing style that featured the bolo punch, a looping uppercut that mimicked the motion of a machete cutting sugar cane … Was on the wrong end of a close decision in his first title challenge, losing a 15-round decision to reigning welterweight champ Sugar Ray Robinson in July ’49 ÔÇª Captured the vacant welterweight title on May 18, 1951 with a 15-round decision of Johnny Bratton ÔÇª Made seven successful defenses of the 147-pound crown while also maintaining a busy schedule of non-title fights ÔÇª Knockout of local favorite Gil Turner in Philadelphia in July ’52 set an attendance record (39,025) for a welterweight title fight that lasted until the 1980 Roberto Duran-Ray Leonard bout in Montreal ÔÇª Challenged Bobo Olson for the middleweight title in August ’54, losing a 15-round decision ÔÇª Lost welterweight title to mob-controlled Johnny Saxton by a highly controversial decision on Oct. 20, 1954. Nineteen of 21 writers at ringside gave the fight to Gavilan ÔÇª Fought in 10 different countries before retiring in ’58 ÔÇª Never knocked out in 143 pro bouts .. Returned to Cuba after his fighting days were over, but lost his 39-acre ranch, home, cars and other real estate when Fidel Castro came to power ÔÇª Eventually returned to the United States, where he lived out the rest of his days on the edge of poverty.