Interview: Jose "Chequi" Torres

24.01.04 - By Ike Enwereuzor: Former Light Heavyweight Champion Jose "Chequi" Torres was born May 3, 1936. He began his Boxing career in the Army 1954 in Puerto Rico. After 24 fights in 2 years, Torres qualified for 1956 Olympics. As a Light Heavyweight, Torres won a silver medal in the 1956 Olympics. On July 14, 1969. He made his professional debut by knocking out Gene Hamilton in New York in the first round. Torres stopped Willie Pastrano at Madison Square Garden on March 30, 1965 to become the Light Heavyweight champion of the world.

He defended his title 3 times before meeting former world champion Dick Tiger on December 16, 1966 and lost the title to the Nigerian-born Tiger. The two met again on May 16, 1967, where Dick Tiger retained his belt. Torres retired in 1969, after his meeting with Charley "Devil" Green, who was KO'd in the 2nd round. Torres later became a journalist and author of several Books. Here's what he had to say:

Ike: What inspired you to become a Boxer?

Torres: I started Boxing in the Army 1954. I was in the US Army and I used to be very good in Baseball, and tracks & field. They had no room for me there, so I had to join the Boxing Gym. I started doing very well at the Gym and in three months, I won the Caribbean Armed Forces Championship the same 1954 I join the Force. I had no boxing experience before I joined the Army. I signed up in September and by December, I won my first championship. Like I said I never boxed in my life before. After a little while I was transferred to the Military based in New Jersey, I ran away and join the boxing gym.Then they transferred me to George Meade in Maryland I won my second title, this time I won the All army Championship. So I qualified for Olympics trial, I knocked out former Three-Time All Army Champion Edward Grook. I knocked him out in round three in trails to qualify. I fought Crook again later on and beat him again by decision he gave his hand as excuse that it was broken. I asked him what happened the first fight I (Jose) knocked you out flat.

Ike: Please tell us about your participation in 1956 Olympics?

Torres: I went to Olympics, and I won my first three fight. I fought Laszlo Papp from Hungary fin the finals. Many thought I won that fight in Melbourne, Australia but they gave it to Papp, who just passed away few months ago. Our fight 1956 was a very close fight, he was about ten years older than me. He won the Gold medal 3 times on stretch. In 1956 he won Gold and I won the Silver. He won Gold in 1948 and Olympics before that too. He was a southpaw and left handed so I couldn't hit him with good shots. I only had 24 fights while he had over 362 fights as amateur.

Ike: Tell us about your first meeting Cus D'Amato?

Torres: After I came back from Olympics 1956, it was all over the news, and Cus D'Amato sent a note that he wanted to sign me so my father took me to see him as I was too young. After I met him, I fell in Love with Cus D'Amato. He was a very decent man. He didn't believe I had only 28 fight after Olympics. I had 24 fights before I went to Olympics.

Ike: What's your impression of Cus D'Amato?

Torres: Cus D'Amato was a Boxing genius and understands the game. He was a true teacher of the game. He thought me that boxing is about physical, psychological and emotional. He always told me to fight intelligently. A Boxer who wants to be a champion must be smart and have character or you'll never be a champion. Don't give up on your dreams. Fear is normal and a protection that can be controlled. Control fear and use it to protect yourself.

Ike: You wrote a Book on Mohammed Ali. What's your impression of him?

Torres: Ali is a great human Being and champion. He's still a champion. I haven't seen him in a long time now. He's sick from something my father suffered also. Floyd Patterson is also sick now with alzheimer Why do people blame Ali illness on Boxing. If my father was a boxers they would have said that's what killed him too.

Ike: Your thoughts on former heavyweight Joe Louis?

Torres: I loved Joe Luis and he was my first hero. He had great jab and power.He had some devasting punching power and was tough to beat.

Ike: Your views on former undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson?

Torres: Mike is a wonderful and intelligent guy. I think he has his case coming up on January 20th about his case in Brooklyn, NY. I don't see why they are giving him a hard time. Police told me these two guys attacked Tyson just because he refused to sign an autograph. Tyson just defended himself, as the two threatened Mike with a gun. Tyson can kill with a punch but he didn't hit the harasser but just pushed them back. I hope nothing happens to Mike Tyson, he's innocent. I hope the court understands Mike was only defending himself by pushing them back. I was first introduced to Mike by Cus D'Amato before he became a champion.

When Cus brought Mike to me and told him that I was a world champion. Mike was very shy, he had his head down and said "I want to be a world champion like you one day" said Tyson. Few months later I went to see Mike Tyson train, and I was shocked by what I saw. I said to myself there's no one that can beat this guy. He was so fast and powerful. I told Cus D'Amato, this guy is going to be the youngest heavyweight champion and that's what happened. I was with Cus D'Amato for years my father loved him even my mother, wife and family. I made one million, two hundred thousand in my Boxing career. How much do you think Cus D'Amato took, Ike?

Ike: Nothing!

Torres: You're 100% right. Cus D'Amato didn't take a dime from my money. He was entitled to 1/3% of the purse as manager, 10% as trainer but he took nothing. In fact, when I was getting married, Cus D'Amato paid for my wedding and everything we wore or used.

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Article posted on 24.01.2004

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