Yuriorkis Gamboa, a modern Kid Chocolate

By Leon De Juda: Eligio Sardiñas Montalvo (January 6, 1910 – August 8, 1988), better known as Kid Chocolate, was a Cuban boxer who enjoyed wild success both in the boxing ring and in society life during a span of the 1930s. Chocolate, nicknamed The Cuban Bon Bon, learned how to fight by watching old fight films in Cuba. He later sparred with boxers such as Benny Leonard and Jack Johnson, all world champions, before beginning an amateur boxing career. As an amateur, he won all 100 of his fights, 86 by knockout..

His professional boxing debut, officially, occurred on December 8, 1927, when he beat Johnny Cruz in six in Havana. Whether that was his actual debut or not has been a point of contention, because some Cuban boxing historians claim that he was actually paid for 21 bouts before that, supposedly winning each of them by knockout, which would put him on Ring Magazine's list of longest knockout streaks in history. But documents show the Cruz fight as being his first professional bout.His first 12 bouts, including a five round knockout win in a rematch with Cruz, were held in Cuba. In 1928, he moved to the United States and began campaigning in New York. He won his first nine bouts there, five by knockout, and 12 of his first 13 fights in his new hometown. The only person to escape the ring without a defeat against Chocolate during that span was Joey Scalfaro, who held him to a ten round draw.

By 1929, Chocolate started to become a name to be reckoned with in boxing. He had 23 fights that year, and continued his undefeated run by winning each of them. He also began to meet better opponents, and among the boxers he beat were former world champion Fidel LaBarba, beaten by a decision in ten, future world champion Al Singer, also by a decision in ten, and fringe contenders Bushy Graham, Vic Burrone and Gregorio Vidal, all of whom, except for Graham, were beaten by decision. Graham was disqualified in the seventh round. He started 1931 by winning four fights in a row, after going up in weight to the Jr. Lightweight division. Then, on July 15 of that year, his dream of becoming Cuba's first world boxing champion finally came true, as he knocked out the defending world Jr. Lightweight champion Benny Bass in seven rounds to take the world title. Five non-title wins followed, including a first round knockout in a rematch with Scalfaro, and then he finished the year by going up in weight once again, and challenging world Lightweight champion Tony Canzoneri, losing by a decision in 15 in his first attempt to gain the Lightweight crown.

Kid Chocolate was so immensely popular, that he was said to stop traffic in downtown Paris. He was known as the Cuban Bon Bon through the boxing World. His fame and glory came with a very high price as Chocolate started to blow his career away getting involved with beautiful ladies and drugs as well. This is where his great undefeated record started to break apart and thus lost his World Championship. Kid Chocolate is without a doubt, one of the greatest boxers that ever laced a pair of boxing gloves. He is considered a boxing legend and is regarded as possibly the best featherweight Champion of all times. During his exceptional and stellar career, he finished with 136 wins, 10 loses with 51 KOs. Keeping in mind that of those 10 loses, more than 6 came from drug use.

During recent times however, it seems that Kid's spirit still lives on in the form of a hot new Cuban featherweight prospect called Yuriorkis Gamboa. It is very safe to say that this great comparison is only granted to exceptional talents and thus " El Ciclon " Gamboa seems the perfect man to carry on Kid's legacy. One has done it already and the other is just starting. To continue with Kid's legacy is an ever difficult task that only the absolute best can accomplish.

Yuriorkis Gamboa, has many of the tools that made Kid Chocolate so great and so incredibly popular. Chocolate was so amazingly fast that in one ocassion they had to put on him white boxing gloves in order for the referees to actually see his shots! Gamboa is just as fast, and yes more powerful than Kid himself who did'nt pocess a great devastating power punch like Gamboa does. Yuriorkis, just like Chocolate is extremely fun to watch as every second of his fights are full of action. The fan has to be careful and not take away his eyes of the TV set because in a second " El Ciclon de Guantanamo " will shift to category 5 hurricane and blow away his competition.

Both Chocolate and Gamboa have many things in common as both were great amateur standouts, both were/are from Cuba, both were/are featherweights, both were/are extremely talented and fast and thus this great comparison has to be made. Even though that it's still very early in Gamboa's career to campare him to this Cuban Hall of Famer, his incredible talent and arsenal has many of the boxing world turning their heads in emotion. While " El Ciclon " Gamboa continues wreacking havoc in the featherweights, he is building a great solid fan based reputation and at the same time adding some much needed " Cuban Sugar " to the sport of professional boxing.

In just 15 professional fights, the 2004 Olympic Gold Medal winner has just won his first " World " title defeating Venezuelan Jose Rojas by TKO in the 10th in his last outing. Even though that this is just the " interim " version of the Title, it never the less gives Gamboa the number spot in the WBA and thus a shodown with WBA Titleholder Chris John seems inevitable down the road, that is of course if Chris John can beat Rocky Juarez in their upcoming rematch. For Gamboa, the sky is the limit right now as in the tender age of 26 the only thing that can really stop him is himself. His uniquely talent and physical abilities can surely carry him into inmortal glory. Whether Gamboa can continue from where Kid Chocolate left off is something still to be seen but one thing is surely guaranteed, excitement and more excitement!

If the glorious Kid Chocolate would be alive today, I am sure he will see himself represented in Yuriorkis Gamboa as his next great successor. The torch was lit and it gave fire, now it will be lit again in the form of Yuriorkis " El Ciclon de Guantanamo " Gamboa!

Article posted on 24.04.2009

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