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ANTONIO CERVANTES "KID PAMBELÉ" WAS THE FIRST BOXING CHAMPION IN COLOMBIA AND THE BEST IN ITS HISTORY

 

Antonio Cervantes was thin as a rail and woven out of tough fiber.  He shot up to become the first world boxing champion from Colombia.  He was born on December 23rd, 1945, in San Basilio de Palenque, Bolívar, Colombia.  He failed in his first attempt to conquer the 140-lb. division title against Argentine boxer Nicolino Loche, in Buenos Aires, on December 11th, 1971.  He had to wait until October 25th, 1972 to win the WBA world junior welterweight crown, after knocking out Panamanian Alfonso Frazer in Panama City.  He defended his title successfully in 11 matches, and lost it in a challenge match against Puerto Rican boxer Wilfredo Benítez, on March 6th, 1976.

Antonio Cervantes "Kid Pambelé" captured the unclaimed WBA junior welterweight title a second time after knocking out Carlos Giménez on June 25th, 1977, in Maracaibo, Venezuela.  After winning the title this second time, he successfully defended it 6 times, and lost it in a match held August 2nd, 1980, in Cincinnati, against Aaron Pryor, who knocked him out in the 4th round. Cervantes dominated his division from 1972 to 1980, excepting 1976, the year in which he lost to Puerto Rican boxer Wilfredo Benítez, who was later stripped of his title because he refused to give Colombian boxer "Kid Pambelé" a rematch.

As we all know, this man brought glory not only to his own country, but to all of Latin America.  Unfortunately, he fell in the trap of addiction, a destiny few have been able to escape.  He was sent to Cuba twice for drug and alcohol rehabilitation, to no avail.  His people, however, still idolize and revere the man who was later named to Boxing's Hall of Fame in 1998.  He was a topnotch professional, an athlete in the fullest sense of the word.  "Kid Pambelé" retired with a record of 66 wins, 12 losses, 1 tie and 36 knockouts.

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