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This was the first broadcast of live professional boxing on the Internet, and was seen on computers by over 250,000 people in 15 different countries. It was only fitting that Kid Gavilan, one of the early stars of televison boxing, would be our guest at the first broadcast of boxing on the Internet.
Kid Gavilan, born January 6, 1926, as Gerardo Gonzalez, was one of the most popular champions of all time. Gavilan was a regular in the early days of televised boxing, with 34 television appearances. He was famous for his boxing style which included playing possum, changing strategies during rounds, and slipping punches with brilliant head movement. He was also famous for the “bolo punch,” a looping uppercut with tremendous power.
Gavilan was a worker on a sugar cane plantation in his native Cuba. He started competing in amateur bouts at the age of twelve. He was spotted by a team of boxing managers, in Havana, who molded his career and took him to the United States. He was named after a Havana cafe owned by manager Fernando Balido, and known as El Gavilan (“The Hawk”), hence the name Kid Gavilan, “The Cuban Hawk.”
Gavilan began his professional caeer at the age of sixteen, in 1943. The first three years of his career he fought in Cuba, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, before coming to New York City. By 1947, Gavilan was considered to be one of the top welterweight contenders. In 1949 Gavilan fought Sugar Ray Robinson for the championship of the world, and lost a fifteen round decision. It was hotly contested and many observers felt that Gavilan had won. Two years later, after Robinson had vacated the welterweight crown to move up to middleweight, Gavilan again fought for the world title. This time the result was different, as Gavilan defeated Johnny Bratton to win the title, on May 18, 1951.
Gavilan successfully defended his title against Billy Graham, beat Graham again in a rematch, then defeated the great Carmen Basilio in another title defense. In 1954 Gavilan moved up to middleweight to fight Carl “Bobo” Olson for the world title. Olson was, however, too big and strong for Gavilan and he won a decision. Later that same year, Gavilan lost his welterweight title to Johnny Saxton. Saxton won, despite the fact that 19 of the 21 writers at ringside gave the fight to Gavilan. Rumors were that the fight was fixed, without Gavilan’s knowledge, and his only hope of winning would have been by knockout.
Gavilan fought for four years more before calling it a career. Throughout his his career, Gavilan showed great speed, counter-punching ability, and stamina. His bolo punch, which traced the same motion he had used with his machete in the sugar cane fields, excited the fans, and was dreaded by his opponents. His final ring record stands at 79-30-6. He fought all the top fighters of his day was never knocked out. He was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.