Eder Jofre: The Golden Man of Boxing gets his Star in his West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame Homecoming
By Emmanuel Rivera, RRT
Fri, 23 Sep 2022
September 22, 2022
San Leandro, California (Last of a series):
“Eder Jofre is to boxing what Bruce Lee is to Jeet Kune Do,” Rick Farris, boxing historian, recently posted on social media. Mr. Farris, founder and president of the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame, obviously knows his boxing (and fight simile) just like Nathaniel “Nat” Fleischer who once called Jofre a great fighter, a “Small Sugar”, as in Ray Robinson, for the uninitiated few.
The Ring’s December 2021 issue rated the Brazilian as the best at bantamweight---ahead of Ruben Olivares, Carlos Zarate, Manuel Ortiz and Panama Al Brown.
Since 1892, only seven (retired) boxers have won the bantamweight and featherweight crowns.
In chronological order, they are George Dixon, Terry McGovern, Eder Jofre, Ruben Olivares, Jeff Fenech, Johnny Tapia, and Luisito “Earthquake” Espinosa.
“The best of the lot in the 118 lb. and 126-pound divisions is Eder Jofre,Brazil’s first world champion, “the late Jack Fiske, regarded as the Dean of boxing writers, a World Boxing Hall of Fame and International Boxing Hall of Fame enshrinee, once told the late Hermie Rivera, my father, who replied, “Jofre had scientific and fighting skills clearly effective against the best fighters the Philippines had to offer, way back when.”
On two separate occasions, with the undisputed bantamweight title on the line, both chroniclers of the Sweet Science of Bruising, watched the legendary Brazilian fight live.
On May 4, 1962, at the Cow Palace, Daly City, California, Mr. Fiske was at ringside when Eder Jofre beat local San Francisco Bay Area favorite Herman Marquez via TKO in the 10th round.
On May 18, 1963, at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines, Mr. Rivera---then a budding reporter---saw Jofre’s brilliance as he beat the Filipino hometown hero Francisco “Johnny” Jamito via TKO in the 11th round.
Suffice it to say, both men knew a good story when they saw one.
“I’ve had many fights, some memorable, but the ones with Jose Medel, the title against Eloy Sanchez and against Legra were special. Before the bantamweight title, my fight with Medel was my best. At featherweight, I consider maybe the one against Shig Fukuyama was good,” Mr. Jofre, with his son Marcel translating, said to Philboxing.com and PinoyGreats.com via e-mail.
“I’ve fought four fighters from the Philippines, and I believe all Filipinos come from a top-quality boxing school. They are very difficult fighters to beat. The crafty Leo Espinosa gave me difficulty (W10, June 4, 1959, Ibirapuera, Sao Paolo, Brazil), Danny Kid (W10, Brazil, December 12, 1959), Francisco “Johnny” Jamito (TKO 11, May 18, 1963, Araneta Coliseum, Quezon City) and Tony Jumao-As (W10, September 10, 1971). Of the four, Leo Espinosa and Danny Kid were two very hard bones to crack,” the Brazilian boxing legend added.
“All my best to the Filipino people and their current and future boxers. Remember to eat your vegetables and do everything with love and dedication,” Mr. Jofre, a lifelong vegetarian, intimated.
Sixty-one years after he won his first world championship, Eder Jofre has been inducted to the prestigious West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame, co-founded by Rick Farris and Dan Hanley, last October 17, 2021, at the Loews Hotel in Hollywood, California.
The 86-year-old Eder Jofre, once dubbed “O Galo De Ouro” (Golden Bantam) and now the oldest living legend and Boxing Hall-of-Famer, had a career spanning two weight divisions where he won championships in both the bantamweight and featherweight ranks.
He was born in Brazil on March 26, 1936, in Sao Paolo, Brazil and grew up in a family that dabbled in boxing and wrestling.
As an amateur, he was Brazil’s representative at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics.
He sports a 72-2-4 (W-L-D and 50 knockouts).
His championship record reads like this: Of his 11 opponents, he beat 10 by KO in world title fights—as featherweight champion he bested 2 opponents (1 by KO) and as bantamweight titlist he defeated 9 (all by KO).
Among the honors bestowed upon Eder Jofre are the following:
Hall of Fame Recognition
Mr. Chris J. Smith wrote and published the definitive biography on Eder Jofre.
Painstaking research, detailed first-person accounts, vintage fight photos, an eye-popping cover painted by Mr. Jun Aquino, and a flowing style of storytelling are hallmarks of his fascinating book---Eder Jofre: Brazil’s FirstBoxing World Champion, published by KO Publications and is available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble books stores.
I hope everyone gets their copy about a true-to-life boxing hero. You will most likely enjoy the book as much as I have.
Here is the author himself, Chris Smith, in his own words…
PhilBoxing.com: What got you to follow the sport of boxing? And please explain why you were interested in Eder Jofre.
“From a young age, I was attracted to boxing history, especially to boxers from Latin America and I was intrigued when I started to read about Eder Jofre and the status he held in his fighting days. I began collecting whatever I could on him and fell in love with his style. I also really liked what I found out about him as a person. He never badmouthed anybody, didn't need a large entourage, always respected his opposition and lived clean. I used to like WWF wrestling as a kid and when I first saw boxing, around the age of 7 or 8, I was hooked. It's hard to pinpoint what it was but as I got a few years older, I started to read what I could, and was always fascinated with the stories of boxers and the fights in addition to being hooked on the action.”
PhilBoxing.com: What was the experience like writing a book about Mr. Jofre and later inducting him to the WCBHOF?
“The experience was 100% positive. It was a total honor. I honestly didn't know I was going to write the book until about 2019 as crazy as that sounds. I am a researcher and collector, and I gathered a plethora of information on him over the years. Mostly, because I was such a big fan. Everything from articles in multiple languages, reports of every fight, his training, unpublished manuscripts, the books previously written on him in Portuguese, interviews I conducted etc.; That made it relatively smooth once I put two feet in and went for it. I really enjoyed the experience as it kept me busy, focused, motivated, and much of it was during the start of COVID-19, so I was one of the few who wasn't suffering the boredom of lockdown.
“It was great to share his story, to see the happiness in his face with the book, and to feel the appreciation from him and his family too.”
“Inducting him into WCBHOF was a special moment. A dream come true. It was a longshot goal to deliver a trip to America for him and his family and to tie it in with WCBHOF made it perfect. It was bigger than I imagined as it got national TV publicity in Brazil. To have spent that week with him and to have presented him to the public and be on stage as he felt the warmth and appreciation of the public was a memorable moment for me which I will always cherish.”
“The feeling of taking him back to the Olympic was surreal. If you read that piece from Rick, I explain it in there. I felt like I was sharing a part of history with him as he was walking around the venue, he made history for his family and country. You could see this was a big deal for his children to re-trace these footsteps and finally be present at the location they had always heard tied into their father's story so much.”
“The Sugar Ray Leonard experience was incredible. It was humbling to see this genuine superstar welcome us with open arms into his beautiful home and to see how interested he was in Eder's life and so impressed with his energy at that age too.”
“Carlos Zarate is my dear friend and, much like Jofre, someone I feel I have an attachment to which goes outside of the sport. I know they respect each other so much and enjoy each other’s presence so it felt very nice to be there when they were together. You can sense the love Zarate has for him, as Jofre was a fighter, he knew all about from growing up as a boxer in Mexico. Carlos looked up to Medel and Saldivar, who, of course, Eder defeated.”
Sources: Nathaniel Fleisher’s ALL-TIME Ring Record Book (1941-86), Eder Jofre: Brazil’s First Boxing World Champion written by Christopher J. Smith, The Boxing Register (International Boxing Hall of Fame Official Record Book, first to fifth editions).
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Emmanuel Rivera, RRT.
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