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Francisco Guilledo

Francisco Guilledo

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Francisco Guilledo more commonly known as Pancho Villa, was a Filipino
Filipino people
The Filipino people or Filipinos are an Austronesian ethnic group native to the islands of the Philippines. There are about 92 million Filipinos in the Philippines, and about 11 million living outside the Philippines ....

 boxer. Villa, who stood only 5 feet and 1 inch (154 cm) tall and never weighed more than 114 pounds (51 kg), rose from obscurity to win the World Flyweight boxing championship in 1923, earning acclaim in some quarters as "the greatest Asian fighter in boxing history". He was never knocked out in his entire boxing career, which ended with his sudden death at the age of 23 from complications following a tooth extraction.

Early life and Philippine boxing career


Guilledo was born in Ilog, Negros Occidental
Ilog, Negros Occidental
Ilog is a 3rd class municipality in the province of Negros Occidental, Philippines.Founded by the Augustinian fathers in May 1584. It was the first capital of Negros Occidental and Siquijor Provinces in the late 19th century...

, the son of a cowhand who abandoned his family when Guilledo was just six months old. He grew up in the hacienda
Hacienda
Hacienda is a Spanish word for an estate. Some haciendas were plantations, mines, or even business factories. Many haciendas combined these productive activities...

 of a wealthy local, helping his mother raise goats she tended on the farm.

When Guilledo was 11, he sailed to Iloilo City
Iloilo City
The City of Iloilo is a highly urbanized city in the Philippines and the capital city of Iloilo province. It is the regional center of the Western Visayas, as well as the center of the Iloilo-Guimaras Metropolitan Area...

 to work as a bootblack. While in Iloilo, he befriended a local boxer, and together they migrated to Manila
Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

, settling in Tondo
Tondo, Manila
Tondo is a district of Manila, Philippines. The locale has existed prior to the arrival of the Spanish, referred to as "Tundun" in the Laguna Copperplate Inscription. One of the most densely populated areas of land in the world, Tondo is located in the northwest portion of the city and is primarily...

. He would occasionally spar with friends, and soon attracted the attention of local boxing habitués. He fought his first professional fight in 1919 against Kid Castro. Within two years, he was the Philippine flyweight
Flyweight
Flyweight is a class in boxing which includes fighters weighing less than 112 lb but above 108 lb .-Professional boxing:...

 champion, having dethroned "Terrible Pondong". He nearly gave up boxing after being spurned by a woman he courted, actually returning to Negros
Negros Occidental
Negros Occidental is a province of the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Its capital is Bacolod City and it occupies the northwestern half of Negros Island; Negros Oriental is at the southeastern half...

 early in 1922 to retire. The clamor of Filipino boxing fans compelled him to return to the ring.

It appears that during this period, Guilledo was under the tutelage of at least two important local boxing figures. One was the American boxing promoter based in Manila Frank E. Churchill. Another was a Filipino ice plant
Ice plant
- Plant common names :* Aizoaceae, the ice plant family* Carpobrotus chilensis* Carpobrotus edulis* Conicosia, narrow-leafed ice plants* Delosperma cooperi, Cooper's ice plant* Delosperma bosseranum...

 executive and boxing manager named Paquito Villa. The renaming of Francisco Guilledo to Pancho Villa has been attributed to both men, depending on the source. One version tags Churchill as having renamed Guilledo into Villa, taking the name from the Mexican guerrilla leader
Pancho Villa
José Doroteo Arango Arámbula – better known by his pseudonym Francisco Villa or its hypocorism Pancho Villa – was one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals....

. Another version maintains that Paquito Villa had legally adopted Guilledo as early as 1918, renaming him Pancho.

World flyweight champion


In May, 1922, Villa received an invitation from famed boxing promoter Tex Rickard to fight in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. He accepted the invitation, and sailed to America together with Churchill and Paquito Villa. He immediately won his first overseas fight against Abe Goldstein
Abe Goldstein
Abe Goldstein was an American boxer.He was World Bantamweight Champion in 1924, and was ranked the # 5 bantamweight of all time-Boxing career:...

 in Jersey City on June 7, 1922. He then fought and defeated Frankie Genaro
Frankie Genaro
Frank "Frankie" Genaro was a former Olympic gold medalist and boxing world flyweight champion...

 on August 22, 1922. By this time, Villa had caught the attention of boxing aficionados, and he was slated to fight against the American flyweight champion Johnny Buff
Johnny Buff
John "Johnny Buff" Lesky was an American boxer. He was World Bantamweight Champion from 1921 to 1922.-Boxing career:...

 on September 15, 1922.

Villa defeated Buff in an upset, knocking out the champion in the 11th round to win the American flyweight championship. At this point, Villa had been in the American phase of his career for only 4 months. Villa lost the title early the following year to Genaro, who defeated the Filipino on points in a widely criticized decision. The unpopularity of Villa's defeat on points proved fateful. Jimmy Wilde
Jimmy Wilde
Jimmy Wilde , was a Welsh world boxing champion. He was the first official world flyweight champion and was rated by American boxing writer Nat Fleischer, as well as many other professionals and fans including former boxer, trainer, manager and promoter, Charley 'Broadway' Rose, as "the greatest...

, the Welsh
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

-born boxer and former world flyweight champion had decided to end his recent retirement and seek the then vacant world flyweight championship in a fight to be staged in America. While Genaro, the US champion, seemed as the logical choice to fight Wilde, Villa's growing popularity soon convinced promoters that the Filipino would prove as the better draw.

Villa did not disappoint. On June 18, 1923, at the Polo Grounds
Polo Grounds
The Polo Grounds was the name given to four different stadiums in Upper Manhattan, New York City, used by many professional teams in both baseball and American football from 1880 until 1963...

 in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Villa was cheered on to victory over Wilde by over 20,000 fans screaming "Viva Villa!" The win came by way of a knockout in the 7th round caused by a crashing right to Wilde's jaw. Villa was described as relentless, pummeling Wilde with both hands, and causing the Welshman to also drop in the fourth and fifth rounds. Wilde never fought again.

The new world flyweight champion successfully defended his title several times and never relinquished it until his death just two years later. Villa returned to a hero's welcome in Manila in September 1924, feted with a parade and a reception at Malacañan Palace
Malacañang Palace
The Malacañan Palace, commonly known simply as Malacañang, is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the Philippines. Located at 1000 J. P. Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila, the house was built in 1750 in Spanish Colonial style. It has been the residence of every...

. He also returned to his old haunts in Iloilo and his hometown in Negros. Before returning to the United States, he fought one more bout in Manila, against Clever Sencio, on May 2, 1925. Villa prevailed. None of the thousands of fans who saw that fight at Wallace Field knew that they had just witnessed Villa's final victory, and the second to the last fight of his life.

Death


Villa returned to the United States to prepare for his next match, a non-title fight against Jimmy McLarnin
Jimmy McLarnin
James McLarnin, known as Jimmy McLarnin , was an Irish Canadian professional boxer who became two-time welterweight world champion and an International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee.-Background:McLarnin was born in Hillsborough, County Down, Ireland, into a large Methodist family who emigrated...

 scheduled for July 4, 1925, at Ewing Field in Oakland
Oakland, California
Oakland is a major West Coast port city on San Francisco Bay in the U.S. state of California. It is the eighth-largest city in the state with a 2010 population of 390,724...

. Days leading to the fight, Villa's face became swollen due to an ulcerated tooth. According to contemporary newspaper accounts, on the morning of the fight, Villa went to a dentist to have the tooth extracted. Despite the pain and swelling, Villa insisted on going ahead with fight with McLarnin. Villa ended up spending most of the fight using one hand to protect his afflicted face. Given these circumstances, Villa naturally lost, though he managed to stay the distance. It was Villa's last fight.

Two or three days after the McLarnin fight, Villa had three more teeth extracted after an infection was discovered. Against his dentist's prescription of bed rest, Villa spent the next few days carousing with friends. Villa's condition worsened thereafter, and by July 13, 1925, he had to be rushed to the hospital. It was then discovered that the infection had spread to Villa's throat, resulting in Ludwig's angina
Ludwig's angina
Ludwig's angina, otherwise known as angina ludovici, is a serious, potentially life-threatening cellulitis, or connective tissue infection, of the floor of the mouth, usually occurring in adults with concomitant dental infections. It is named after the German physician, Wilhelm Friedrich von Ludwig...

. Villa was rushed into surgery, but he lapsed into a coma while on the table, and died the following day, July 14, 1925, 17 days before he became 24 years old.

Villa's remains were returned to Manila, and in August 1925, Villa was buried at Manila North Cemetery
Manila North Cemetery
The Manila North Cemetery , which measures 54 hectares, is considered the biggest and one of the oldest cemeteries in Metro Manila. Beside it are two other important cemeteries, namely the La Loma Cemetery and the Manila Chinese Cemetery...

. He was survived by his wife, Gliceria.

Family


His younger half-brother, Little Pancho, was also a professional boxer who compiled a record of 43-14-15.

Honors


Villa was inducted belatedly into the International Boxing Hall of Fame
International Boxing Hall of Fame
The modern International Boxing Hall of Fame is located in Canastota, New York, United States, within driving distance from the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown and the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta...

 in 1994, the second Filipino boxer so honored after Gabriel "Flash" Elorde
Gabriel Elorde
Gabriel "Flash" Elorde was a Filipino professional boxer. He was born and raised in the town of Bogo, Cebu....

, who was born 7 years after Villa's death. 33 years earlier, in October 1961, Villa was added by Ring Magazine to its own boxing hall of fame.

Pancho Villa was voted 59th best fighter by the Ring Magazine's writers in 2002 when the Ring Magazine's list of the 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years was released.

Trivia

  • He was commemorated in two tracks on Sun Kil Moon
    Sun Kil Moon
    Sun Kil Moon is a music project of singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek, best known for his previous band Red House Painters. Sun Kil Moon sees Kozelek undertake the writing, composing, singing, and guitar playing, accompanied by Tim Mooney and Anthony Koutsos on drums, and Geoff Stanfield on bass...

    's acclaimed 2003 album Ghosts of the Great Highway
    Ghosts of the Great Highway
    Ghosts of the Great Highway is the 2003 debut album by San Francisco quartet Sun Kil Moon, led by Red House Painters' founder Mark Kozelek, who composed all of the lyrics and music on this album...

    ,
    an album which seems fixated on themes of boxing, memory, past ghosts and those who died before their natural time.

  • Villa is also remembered to this day for the unusual, tragic, and rather needless circumstances surrounding his death
    Death
    Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

     at the young age of 23, while at the height of his boxing career.

External links