Boxing

Gaspar Ortega tribute – Social boxing


IBHOF curator Graham Houston pays tribute to the 1950s and 1960s Mexican Korean heavyweight, Gaspar Ortega, who passed away last week.

A true ring fighter has left us on December 16, aged 86, of former welterweight title contender Gaspar “Indian” Ortega.

Never a champion, and with only one title chance in his long career, Ortega has faced most of the top boxers of his time. He was a mainstay on American television boxing broadcasts in the 1950s and early 1960s and was the subject of the book. Friday Night Fighter, the title originates from the night of the week when boxing was the critically acclaimed flagship show of the ABC-TV network.

At this time, there are only three major television networks in the US. It’s the time when the whole family gathers around the monochrome TV to watch the popular programs of the day. Boxing is a huge part of social media in America and the boys become fans of the fights with their fathers. Those days are long gone, but Ortega played his part in what became known as the Golden Age of American television boxing.

Born in Mexico and with aspirations of becoming a bullfighter, Ortega moved to the US to further his ring career. He originally lived in New York, where he met his wife, before moving to Connecticut. His son, Michael Ortega, is a top referee.

Ortega has battled numerous contenders and champions such as Carmen Basilio, Tony DeMarco, Kid Gavilan, Don Jordan, Benny “Kid” Paret and Emile Griffith and later in his career Nino Benvenuti and Sandro Mazzinghi . His only championship chance came to Griffith, who blocked him in the 12th round in Los Angeles on June 3, 1961. Ortega showed great bravery and tenacity in that match. Knocked down twice in the seventh round, he bounced back and fought well for a few more rounds. However, in the end, Griffith was too strong, Ortega suffered a nosebleed and both eyes were cut off. The Related press The report describes Ortega as “courageous to the core” but Griffith is “too strong and powerful for his celebrated fruit”.

In an earlier meeting, before Griffith won the title, the pair fought at Madison Square Garden, with the future champion going to win by split.

And separation decisions are a feature of Ortega’s career. Time and again, the umpire and the two umpires (this happens on days when the referee is still scoring) are separated.

Ortega twice defeated future weight class champion Tony DeMarco by split decision in the horror film Madison Square Garden. DeMarco won a unanimous decision in Tuesday’s meeting, this time at the future champion’s home ground in Boston. Three tough matches took place over a three-month period. That could never happen today.

Video of Ortega’s August 1959 split decisive victory over Benny Paret on YouTube. It showed Ortega as a nimble boxer who fought in busy boxing fights. When Paret opened his mouth, Ortega went with him in punch-and-punch exchanges.

“Boys, these are the styles that fans love,” noted the ABC-TV commentator in the fifth round. “No problem. No stalling. Work only three minutes in each round. ”

Interestingly, stage MCs in those days weren’t particularly interested in turning the film around when a match ended in a split decision. After Ortega vs Paret ended, Madison Square Garden MC Johnny Addie announced the scores of the two judges for the first time, both in Ortega’s favor. So everyone knew who won the fight before the referee’s scorecard in favor of Paret was announced.

Ortega’s operating schedule consisted of eight matches in 1959, beginning with a decisive loss to an undefeated, Denny Moyer, and included a loss and a two-match win against an ill-fated opponent named Rudell Stitch. It was a victory over Paret and two losses – one of two decisive – to Cuban bomber Florentino Fernandez, who fought 15 tough rounds with Gene Fullmer for the middleweight title.

There is no slowdown. Ortega’s 1960 schedule consisted of 10 games, including a win over Armando Muniz, who was then a four-time welder, a split loss to Emile Griffith and a decisive 10-round loss to Luis Federico Thompson, a veteran born in Panama, Argentina-based opponents who are unbeaten in 36 matches without losing will enter the competition.

When Ortega fought Carmen Basilio at Madison Square Garden in January 1961, he gifted the former middleweight champion and former welder about 10 pounds. However, despite the difference in weight, Ortega fought Basilio to lose in a close but unanimous decision.

This is, of course, an era where TV commentators work solo and let the action in the ring speak for itself, with comments kept to a minimum. For example, in the fifth inning of the fight between Basilio and Ortega, here are commentator Don Dunphy’s only comments:

“We are waiting for the bell to ring for the fifth half. They did a bit of a patchwork on Basilio, next to his right eye, between rounds. Basilio in black body, 159½, Ortega white, 149½, for those who just joined us. The contract costs 155.

“Ortega left his chin exposed but protected his midsection, where he was most vulnerable.

“Basilio turned to the right and it paid off.” (After the left puncher was noticed, Basilio landed his right arm.)

“Al Berl, the referee is very capable, stay out.

“They’re looking for support, aren’t they?” (As the fighters exchange punches, each tries to gain an advantage.)

“One minute left until round 5 when Basilio turns back the clock.” (The pun is great there.)

And that’s from Mr. Dunphy for the fifth round.

According to Dunphy’s comment, Basilio is four and a half kilograms taller than the contracted weight. However, Ortega entered the fight and despite the weight difference still made it a tight, uphill battle.

But it was Gaspar “Indio” Ortega who had the ability to never turn down a fight.

Ortega had a number of European matches towards the end of his career. Welterweight competitor Francois Pavilla overtook him in Paris but Ortega defeated Italian second-weight champion Domenico Tiberia in Rome. But the great 154 lbs and 160 lbs champion, Nino Benvenuti, undefeated at the time and much larger man, overtook Ortega in Rome. And junior middleweight champion (as the division was then called) Sandro Mazzinghi prevented Ortega from retiring to the corner after six rounds in another game in Rome.

Although Ortega was only 29 years old at the time of his match against Mazzinghi, his many bouts with world-class and championship opponents had come at a cost. British champion Brian Curvis knocked him out fairly easily in a disappointing match at the Royal Albert Hall in London in February 1965. Ortega’s final match came just seven months later, a loss. the decision went to Charley Shipes, a skilled boxer and one of the top heavyweights of the era (he fought Curtis Cokes for the title).

Ortega retired with a record of 131-39-6 (69 KOs) but in those days win-lose-draw stats really weren’t as much of a focus. What matters is how a fighter performs in the ring – and Ortega performed with honor and distinction, with remarkable ability.

In 176 fights, Ortega was stopped only twice, once by the great second-weight world champion Emile Griffith and once by Sandro Mazzinghi, a larger boxer and super hitter. Difficult? Gaspar “Indio” Ortega is the definition of the word.





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