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Remembering Flash Elorde


PhilBoxing.com




Had he been alive today, Gabriel ?Flash? Elorde would have been with friends from the local boxing community as well as selected members of media celebrating his 76th birthday either in the kingdom he built at the Fourth Estate in Paranaque or one of his favourite watering holes elsewhere.

The place would have been flooded with his favourite drink, San Miguel Beer, ?pulutan? like crispy pata and lots of ?platitong mani? like in the previous years before he joined his Creator on January 2, 1985.

The group would have recalled how at the tender age of 11 he left his native town Bogo in Northern Cebu to seek his fortune in Cebu City where he worked initially as a bootblack and a pinboy in a bowling alley.

How the little boy Gabriel, ?Bay? to relatives, friends and would be fans changed his life from a shoeshine boy and a pinboy by one incident that paved the way for him to become a fighter. Elorde was rounding the city one day when a big 13-year-old kid tried to bully him away from a customer. Asserting his right, Elorde bloodied the older and much heftier boy?s lips in the ensuing fight.

Although he continued working as a pinboy for two years, how that initial ?victory? opened Bay?s eyes to the prospect of a big name and big money through fighting like those who admired, including Kid Independence and Tanny Campo, whom he was to fight later, the latter he even dethroned as the Philippine bantamweight champion.
How his first taste of a regular fight came surprisingly one afternoon when a sparmate of a boxer failed to show up in a gym he often frequented. How he was convinced to pinch in and stunned everyone inside by knocking the boxer down with a right cross that was to become the famous knockout setting shot that marked his career that officially recorded 107 fights of which 79 were victories, 19 defeats and nine draws.
How in the wonderful, mesmerizing 16th day of March 1960 the Flash brought to these shores the world junior-lightweight crown in the blood and thunderous way that great fights are made of ? a championship that remained on his head and in this country for seven-long years, the longest by anyone who held the belt.

How none, except Elorde himself and a few fanatics believed that the humble Cebuano would get the acclaim that was reserved only to the men who came before him like Pancho Villa, the first Filipino and Asian to win a world boxing championship, Ceferino Garcia, the inventor of the ?bolo punch,? and Little Dado.
How the story of his biggest triumphs began on that historic day of March 16, 1960 when at the then to be inaugurated Araneta Coliseum a near riot ensued as the excess of the 27,000 fans scaled the Coliseum walls and squeezed through the tight security to gain entry inside, rendering the air-conditioned Big Dome oven-hot.

How that night, Elorde was seeking the world championship at the expense of an American-Portuguese, Rhode Island-based Harold Gomes, owner of the National Boxing Association (now World Boxing Association) 130-pound crown that was revived to give the little lightweights a chance to own a belt.
How the country?s pride unloaded the first big blow that shook Gomes, the predominantly pro-Filipino throng knew Pancho Villa had a successor. Elorde, the meek and humble man turned killer, actually sent the American-Portuguese down seven times in that confrontation that lasted seven rounds.

The last such knockdown in the final canto dropped the fallen champ to his knees as if genuflecting before the new god; Gomes was no longer champion, Elorde was.

The night of what could have been his birthday celebration wouldn?t have been complete without reminiscing about his courtship of Laura Sarreal, the sophisticated daughter of his promoter, Lope Sarreal Sr. and their marriage in February, 1954. Despite a fairy-tale, story-book wedding between a colegiala-bred bride Laura and a lowly-born Gabriel, the ceremony was quiet and almost did not make the Manila papers, one of the rare times in the Flash?s colourful life he was able to keep personal to himself.

How Laura became not only Bay?s wife and mother of their children, she also turned out to be his guiding hand that moulded the already humble and prayerful Elorde into a polished man.

Laura and their siblings will be celebrating the day ?Bay? came to being by staging the annual Elorde Awards Night; An occasion to honour the men and women who like him have given honour to the country. Filipinos in the sport of sweet science, headed by the world welterweight belt-holder and eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao in a fitting ceremony at the Hotel Sofitel.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.


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