Dommy Ursua: The Watch Fob Marciano

By Clarence George on September 9, 2015
Dommy Ursua: The Watch Fob Marciano
"Fighting is what I like to do," Ursua said, "and fighting the champion is what I like best."

I don’t know if that makes up for the begging and starving, for a degraded old age, but it’s a pretty sweet epitaph…

“Dynamite comes in small packages.”—Unknown

He died age 72 on May 25, 2008. Not so much retired as destitute, he spent his days begging for food and money.

Few, even among ardent boxing fans, know of flyweight Dommy Ursua, the Philippines’ “Toy Bulldog,” who fought from 1952 to 1961, winding up with a record of 27 wins, 21 by knockout, 29 losses, three by knockout, and one draw. He fought Raton Macias for the NBA World bantamweight championship at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California, on June 15, 1957, losing by 11th-round TKO (though he did knock the Mexican down in the first), and tried for the world flyweight title on December 15, 1958, losing by unanimous decision to Pascual Perez at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila.

Never a champion, but always a fighter, Ursua was described as a “watch fob Rocky Marciano.” No wonder, as the 4’11” fly was just as much a brawler as his heavyweight counterpart. “Fighting is what I like to do,” he said shortly before the Macias bout, “and fighting the champion is what I like best.”

That was once upon a time. Long gone the $85,000 (about $725,000 today) he’d earned for challenging Macias. “Ursua, who used to ride in the presidential car,” writes Jerry Nisperos, “was notorious for lighting his cigars with crisp peso bills whenever he wanted to show off to the girls in the nightclubs. After squandering his ring earnings, Ursua took odd jobs over the years to feed his family.” And from odd jobs to begging. A month before his death,’s Salven L. Lagumbay reported that the former two-time title challenger was asking Manny Pacquiao “for a small share of the Filipino icon’s financial blessings.”

Unlike Mickey Walker, the original “Toy Bulldog,” Ursua will never make it into the Hall of Fame. But “in his prime,” wrote Ronnie Nathanielsz the day after the Pinoy’s death, he was “one of the more exciting fighters in the world.” He was a slugger, greatly admired by no less a heroic figure than Ninoy Aquino himself. It was because of the example set by such Filipino fighters as Ursua, Speed Cabanela, and the legendary Pancho Villa that Aquino found the courage to return to his native land. “That’s why I’m coming home,” he told journalist Teodoro Benigno. “I want to prove to the Filipinos that I am not afraid. Because I know they respect courage above anything else!”

Courage. The Bulldog certainly had that. He often bit off more than he could chew, sure, but he bit. Hall of Famer or not, no one’s ever gonna take away from him that he went balls to the wall. Manager Jack Griffin said at the time of his boy’s bout with Macias that he fights “like the men from the Philippines did in past years. Throwing leather all the time.”

I don’t know if that makes up for the begging and starving, for a degraded old age, but it’s a pretty sweet epitaph.

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  1. Clarence George 12:45pm, 09/09/2015

    Thankee, Irish.  Yes, a nice coincidence that Ted and I gave it the ol’ one-two on Filipino fighters.  By the way, I’d never heard of Rustico Torrecampo and was glad to make his acquaintance.  Speaking of being caught on film, I have a vague recollection that Marcos ordered the televised execution (by electric chair) of three or four men who had gang raped an actress.

    She did indeed, KB.  Whether or not she had the feet for it is another matter.  Speaking of a gal with toothsome tootsies, I’m sorry to report that a favorite of mine, Judy Carne, has died.  Not quite up there with, say, Diana Rigg and Barbara Feldon, but I did indeed have a thing for her.  RIP.

  2. KB 11:56am, 09/09/2015

    Didn’t she have a thang about shoes?

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:57am, 09/09/2015

    Clarence George-You and Ted Sares are tag teaming with these gems! The Philippines has a piss poor record of taking care of those that did well by the Philippines and Filipinos in general. Which reminds me…everything caught on film but the actual murder of Aquino….grabbing Ninoy up on the plane….hustling him out and bang he’s dead?! What the hell?! These buggers had more nerve than a bad tooth….both Ferdinand and Imelda were batshit crazy….she still is.

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