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Pepe Arciga

May 22, 2007 |  8:30 am

1957_arciga_3May 22, 1957

Give or take a match, professional boxing in all of Southern California has been almost totally in the hands of gloved warriors of Mexican descent for, say, the last 25 years.

This monopoly, if you want to call it such, is no mere accident. It is no scheme on the part of anyone, much less promoters. It is no design of convenience, period.

Mexican fighters, born here or yonder, possess a peculiarity which, with the possible exception of glovers of Irish ancestry, isn't always typical of battlers in general.

That peculiarity, my friends, is very basic. It consists of one utterly simple fact: Integrity to the fullest extent.

Translate this into Cauliflower Alley language and they'll tell you, quite candidly, that those "Mexican kids are all action, plenty of guts with never a thought about tank jobs."

One quick glance at the recent past of top-rated Mexican ring stars will bear out the contention.

Look at Tampico-born Baby Arizmendi. Or Mexico City-born Rodolfo Casanova. Or Los Angeles-born Manuel Ortiz. Or Durango-born Enrique Bolanos.

Butch_waxOr Mexico City-born Raul (Raton) Macias and Ricardo (Pajarito) Moreno. Or Laredo-born Kid Azteca.

All of them individuals who enriched and never tarnished the sometimes shadowy profession of I-punch-you, you-punch-me, let's-get-paid.

Even now, when old aficionados of the boxing game sadly shake their heads to moan the fact that "the game ain't what it usta be," Mexican fighters--particularly those of the Mexico City crop--keep sticking out their heads to proudly proclaim that theirs is no dying sport.

For proof, look at your calendar and mark the date of May 23 (when "Pajarito" Moreno and Jose Luis Cotero clash) as a date when Los Angeles will see perhaps the greatest battle of featherweight fury cooked up here since Arizmendi's heroic duels versus Henry Armstrong.

But, now, the inevitable question mark surrounding the overwhelming participation of Mexicans in pro boxing.

Is there a reason why there should not be, in professional boxing circles, a referee, a judge, a commissioner of Mexican extraction?

Tonight, under the joint sponsorship of the Council of Mexican Affairs and the local chapter of the American GI Forum, the absence of officials of Mexican extraction from boxing circles in California comes up for serious discussion and comment.

Attorney Henry Lopez and Frank X. Paz will conduct proceedings which, needless to say, will be highly interesting.

Prominent personalities from the sports and civic world will await the sound of the gong at 8 p.m. at Casa del Mexicano.

The eight-second mandatory count will not be in effect. Not even for Pepe, who'll be there wearing 60-ounce gloves. And plenty of collodion.

I'll be my own referee. Gracias.