By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Two men who are giants in the sport of boxing – World Boxing Council president Don Jose Sulaiman and ALA Promotions patron Antonio “Tony” Aldeguer have paid tribute to the late Gabriel “Flash” Elorde on the occasion of his 78th birth anniversary which will be celebrated on Monday, March 25, with the 13th Annual Awards and Banquet of Champions at the Grand Ballroom of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel.
In a special message to be included in a mini-documentary produced by Viva Sports for the occasion as well as a forthcoming two- hour TV special entitled “The Flash Elorde Story”, Sulaiman said “ I am one of the people that thinks of Flash Elorde as one of the greatest fighters who ever lived not only in the ring but also as a human being.”
Sulaiman recalled “I met him by seeing a couple of his fights and afterwards in 1953 when we had a meeting at the United Nations in new York, Elorde was there with his entire family and received a gold and green belt that did not exist at that time.”
It was the 20th anniversary of the WBC where Elorde and the classy Nicaraguan Alexis Arguello were honored as the two greatest junior lightweights in the 20-year history of the WQorld Boxing Council.
Sulaiman said “I remember him with his tears of pride of dignity and honor” noting that “boxers like Flash Elorde do not exist anymore . Today boxing is how much money and with whom am I going to fight. Elorde would say “when? I’ll be there. ”
The WBC president said “I think Flash Elorde stands in the WBC as an example to the young people and the people of the world and I take this opportunity to send to his family and all of the Philippines, my gratitude for having had such a great boxer and my hero… Flash Elorde.”
Respected boxing patron Tony Aldeguer said Flash Elorde was “ my inspiration. I really loved the guy. I idolized him so much that my parents used to joke about me because on top of my bedside where some people have the picture of Lord Jesus Christ and some had pictures of their friends, what I had was the picture of Flash Elorde.”
Aldeguer told Viva Sports “I remember him as a very ,very honest individual, disciplined person but very humble and that’s what made me idolize him. I believe that other boxers today could emulate him.”
Asked what was so special about Elorde as a fighter, Aldeguer replied “His durability, his toughness and his guts.”
In terms of ability and skill Aldeguer said Elorde “was at par with the other boxer but what made him a great world champion as far as I am concerned was his guts.”
Eight division world champion, Congressman Manny Pacquiao will be the guest of honor and speaker while WBO/Ring/WBC D iamond Belt super bantamweight champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire will be the first Filipino boxer to be awarded the prestigious “Flash” Elorde Memorial Belt.
Previous awardees were Harold Gomes from whom Elorde won the world junior lightweight title with a spectacular 7th round knockout at the inauguration of the Araneta Coliseum on March 16, 1960, Japan’s Shigeki Kaneko who beat Elorde four times although two of the decisions in Japan were regarded as controversial and former world lightweight champion Carlos Ortiz of Puerto Rico who became the only fighter to knock out Elorde in the 14th round at New York’s Madison Square Garden in November 1965 after having earlier scored a 14th round TKO in Manila.
Brief highlights of the Elorde-Ortiz fight along with excerpts from Elorde’s ten round bout with Frankie Narvaez also at Madison Square Garden which was marred by a post-fight riot after Elorde won a close split decision and snippets of title fights against Teruo Kosaka in Cebu and Manila and South Korea’s Suh Kang Il are expected to whet the appetite of fights fans when more historic fight footage will be included in the TV Special and DVD production of “The Flash Elorde Story.”