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Eder Jofre’s legacy continues to be recognized, 61 years after he first became champion

Eder Jofre has his hand raised at his induction ceremony into the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame. Photo by Nate Wren
Fighters Network

Eder Jofre may be well into his golden years, but he isn’t stowing away at his home in Sao Paolo, Brazil, away from the sport that made him a national icon.

Punching at the camera as he Facetimed this writer, the 85-year-old showed some of the same pugnaciousness that led him to 72 wins, 50 by knockouts, against just two losses and four draws, in a career that earned him world title reigns in the bantamweight and featherweight divisions.

His accomplishments garnered him induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992, and, on October 17, into the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame, which held its induction ceremony at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles.

Jofre was among a West Coast induction class that includes former world champions Michael Nunn, Oscar de la Hoya and the Ruelas brothers, Gabriel and Rafael, as well as The Ring’s editor in chief Doug Fischer.

Despite all of his accomplishments, the latest laurel was still special for the Brazilian legend.

“It is a huge honor because every acknowledgement is always welcome, especially after being retired for so long,” said Jofre.

Jofre turned pro in 1957, after representing Brazil in the Olympics the year before. He won a version of the bantamweight championship in 1960, knocking out Eloy Sanchez in six rounds, and reigned until 1965, when he lost a split decision to Fighting Harada in Japan. He retired the following year after losing another decision to Harada, before coming back to the ring three years later. Jofre picked up another world championship in 1973, defeating Jose Legra by majority decision to win the WBC featherweight title, before retiring for good in 1976.

Eder Jofre shows he still has the reflexes of a fighter. Photo by Nate Wren

Jofre says the moment that brings him the greatest pride is having won the first boxing championship for Brazil. Though he made his name in Brazil, Jofre was a true world champion, fighting in six different countries. The resourceful Jofre, who became a vegetarian at age 20, used his surroundings to make the best of circumstances.

Take for instance his 1963 title defense against Johnny Jamito at Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines. Jofre found the tropical heat difficult to adjust to, but eventually made it work in his favor.

“I remember the weather almost knocked me out. It was very hard to train because of that,” said Jofre. “I was 200 grams above the bantamweight limit, but I ran under the sun for 15 minutes and lost all of it.”

Jofre stopped Jamito after the eleventh round in the building that would later become famous the world around as the site of “The Thrilla in Manila.”

Among Jofre’s stops in Los Angeles included a visit to Sugar Ray Leonard, who practiced some shadow-boxing with Jofre, in a meeting of two pound for pound greats from different eras. Jofre was accompanied by Christopher J. Smith, author of the new biography on Jofre, “Eder Jofre, Brazil’s First Boxing World Champion.”

Despite making his name in the 15-round era, Jofre says today’s athletes have better training methods and supplements than they did in his time, but credits a few staples of good health for maintaining his fitness as an octogenarian, including avoiding smoking and drinking, eating healthy, and being mindful.

Jofre’s good health is what enables him to see how much his achievements have held up over time, 61 years after he first became a world champion.

“I always did my best to stand up for my country and show that sports can be an excellent way for young people to reach great goals,” said Jofre.


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