Book review by John J. Raspanti
Many boxing fans have some kind of a historical connection to the sport. If you’re close to 40, it’s likely the Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Oscar De La Hoya era.
If you’re an old geezer like me, the 1960’s and 70’s hold a very special place in your heart. Names like Ali, Frazier, Foster, Monzon, and Napoles were dominating their divisions. The lighter fighters were making their presence felt in Southern California, fighting at such historic venues as the Los Angeles Sports Arena, the Fabulous Forum, and of course, the legendary mecca of SoCal boxing, The Olympic Auditorium.
A few years ago, I read Gene Aguilera’s, “Mexican American Boxing in Los Angeles.” His book took me back to a time when you’d hear legendary ring announcer Jimmy Lennon saying, “Introducing on my right, the pride of San Pedro, wearing red velvet trunks with the gold stripe, the youngest man to win the lightweight title, the former light champion of the world, Mando Ramos!”
Aguilera’s book was a history lesson of the Los Angeles fight scene--from turn-of-the-century fighters Aurelio Herrera and "Mexican" Joe Rivers to the contemporary, like Oscar De La Hoya. I enjoyed it immensely.
So I was pleased when "Latino Boxing in Southern California," his second book on the SoCal boxing scene arrived in the mail. Aguilera again refreshes the reader’s memory of the boxing heroes from another time, expanding his scope this time to include fighters from Cuba, Panama, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.
Each page gives brief biographies of the fighters, including a copious collection of vintage photographs and fight posters - that bring home the grit and power of the boxers and their time in the squared circle.
Reading about and remembering these great fighters from the past is not only fun but informative. Being a boxing fan back then was a glorious experience, and Aguilera brings it to life with his latest book. I found myself nodding numerous times as I read passages in the book.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of “Latino Boxing in Southern California.”
You won’t regret it.