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List of Articles by Eddie Alinea


 

PANCHO VILLA, SECOND OF A SERIES

By Eddie Alinea
PhilBoxing.com
22 Jun 2016



Immediately after crowning himself the world flyweight crown via a seventh-round stoppage of defending champion Jimmy Wilde of Wales, Pancho Villa, who thus emerged the first Filipino and Asian to become the world's best 112-pound fighter, sent his first message to his wife Gliceria (nee Concepcion), which said: "Greetings, I have conquered the world champion. Am praying for more triumph in the future. Love, Pancho."

Gliceria, who learned his husband's title-conquest from newspaper reports, said, by way of replying a query from reporters, "You cannot imagine the happiness I felt upon receiving the first notices of of my husband. I cried not because of pain but emotion. I was hoping for his triumph."

Gliceria added that her prayers before the Black Nazarene of Quiapo had been heard and that in her heart, she had always known Pancho would make it. She sent Pancho a return message: "We are very happy. All Manila celebrates your triumph. We hope you can return soon."

Five days following Villa's ascent to the world fly crown, the PHILLIPPINE FREE PRESS reported: "Schoolboys on the street lisped Villa, staid businessmen grinned and slapped one another on the back and set up the cigars, as proud as if an eight-pound boy had arrived to bear his father's name; through the rain marched a bedraggled parade of enthusiastic supporters, forgetful of everything except that their idol had won, and that beyond the shadow of doubt, Pancho put it across!"

THE PHILIPPINES HERALD had this to say: "Pancho Villa is one of our national peaks. He is, in the role which is assigned to him in the different manifestation of our national life, the most glorious exponent of the vitality and the energy of his race."

An offer to fight Italian-American Frankie Genaro in September did not push through as Villa fell sick and beside, he wanted to go home soon and be with his wife who was then expecting a baby.

A hero's welcome, complete with ticker tape parade and a reception at the Malacanan Palace hosted by President Manuel Quezon was accorded the first ever Filipino boxing champion.

The following day, Pancho, who was born August 1, 1901 in Ilog, Negros Occidental, proceeded to the Rodriguez Farm in La Carlota town in the same province where he spent his childhood days.

He was in Iloilo when he received a call from his promoter, Frank Churchill, who informed him of his coming overweight encounter with American welterweight Jimmy McLarnin set July 4, 1925, the day America was to celebrate its Independence Day.

Despite a swollen face brought about by an ulcerated tooth doctors refused to pull out because his gums were already infected, Villa fought MacLarnin and lost via a controversial decision many believed he won.

The infected tooth was finally extracted a few days after but on July 13, Pancho was diagnosed with a Ludwig's angina or infection of the throat and had to go under knife. The flyweight champ, who never weighed more thn 112 pounds, died on the operating table 18 days short of his 24th birthday.

Later in his prizefighting career, McLarnin, who regularly fought in the 147-pound division, was to become the world titleholder in that category.


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