Tepito (Part Two)

By Ted Sares on September 22, 2015
Tepito (Part Two)
In many respects, his level of opposition was like that of Ezzard Charles—just incredible.

In the tradition of Mexican ring warriors, “El Huitlacoche” never backed down from a tough opponent; he was one rugged customer…

“At the global level, Mexico is corrupt, governed by cartels, with incompetent officials…The same thing that happens at the level of the country happens in Tepito. Why judge Tepito when Mexico is the Tepito of the world?”—Alfonso Hernandez/Tepito Chronicler

Notwithstanding its sketchy history and reputation, great boxers continue to emerge from “el barrio bravo de Tepito.” Here are some from the past:

Jose “Huitlacoche” Medel (1955-1974)

The best fight the best, but for fighting everyone and anybody and remaining competitive in the process, this great Mexican bantamweight of the ‘50s and ‘60s was as good as it gets. “El Huitlacoche” fought from 1955 to 1974 and finished with an old-school record of 69-31-8 with 44 KOs. Fittingly, his last fight was against future super bantamweight champion Royal Kobayashi (9-0) in Tokyo.

Most boxing fans know of Hall of Famers Ruben Olivares and Carlos Zarate. But only aficionados will quickly recognize names like Medel, Jose “Toluco” Lopez, Jose Becerra, Jesus Pimentel, Jesus “Chucho” Castillo, Rafael Herrera, Romeo Anaya, Alfonso Zamora and, of course, Lupe Pintor. Two others were Ricardo “Pajarito” Moreno and German Ohm. These Mexican bantams often fought each other and provided great thrills. “Toluco” Lopez (99-21-3) with 63 KOs, was immensely popular—a people‘s champion. Interestingly, when Medel upset him, he (Medel) was never quite forgiven by traditionally intense Mexican fans.

Medel’s first big fight came against the popular Jose Becerra (39-3-1) to whom he would lose thrice by decision. He then won two of three from rugged David Rodriguez and KO’d Raul Leanos (30-5-2 coming in). He fought Eduardo Guerrero, Cuban Miguel Lazu, Carlos Cardoso, and popular American “Boots” Monroe at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. He then went on a seven-fight win streak which included victories over the aforementioned Lopez, 60-10-1, whom he beat for the Mexican bantamweight title and Cuban Johnny Sarduy (29-2-1at the time). He lost his bid for the North American bantamweight title by a SD a few weeks later against Filipino Danny Kid, but would avenge this loss in a later fight. In between, he fought tough Eloy Sanchez and Ignacio Pina, both top-level fighters at the time.

In 1960, Medel successfully defended his Mexican bantamweight title by avenging his loss to Sanchez, but was then KO’d by the one and only Eder Jofre (32-0-3) at the Olympic on August 18, 1960 in a bantamweight title eliminator. By now, Medel had run his record to an active 43-16-3 in just five years of combat.

Later in 1960, he shockingly iced the same “Toluco” Lopez who was then 80-12-2. He put together a 10-fight unbeaten streak fighting in Mexico, Japan and America. One of his wins came against Sadao Yaoita (50-10-2) in Tokyo—never an easy task for a visiting boxer. Another came against Herman Marques for the North American bantamweight title.

In September 1962, he ventured to Ibiraguera Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil to take on Jofre again, this time for the WBA bantamweight title. Jofre KO’d him for the second time. But Medel bounced back by knocking out Edmunds “Mundo” Esparza and won, lost and drew in three bouts with Manny “Coronado” Barrios. In between, he shocked and stunned the boxing world by stopping future Hall of Famer Fighting Harada in six rounds, and he did it in Tokyo! And this was the same Harada who beat Jofre twice.

After losing to Ray Asis, Jose went on still another win streak starching Vicente Garcia in 1965, beating Asis in a rematch, stopping Walter McGowan in Wembley, London, and beating the great Jesus “Little Poison” Pimentel at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles. Pimentel (49-1) was decked twice in the 9th round. Medel followed up with a TKO win over Rudy Corono, also known as “Trinidad Lopez Amado” who sported a slate of 42-17-1 coming in.

Amazingly, Medel then stepped up his opposition level over the next two years, fighting and losing to Fighting Harada for the WBC and WBA bantamweight titles, Chucho Castillo, Evan Armstrong, “El Alacrán” Torres, Australian great Lionel Rose (30-2), and the legendary Ruben Olivares (43-0-1 coming in). He then went to Japan and fought capable Kazuyoshi Kanazawa. His last noteworthy showing was against Japanese Batam Misao Yamane whom he KO’d in the Plaza de Torros in Guadalajara in November 1969. Earlier that same year, he fought to an impressive draw with “Chucho” Castillo in a rematch. He retired in June 1974 after losing to the aforementioned Royal Kobayashi.

“El Huitlacoche” was never a world champion, but he met the best of his era’s flyweights and bantamweights. In the tradition of Mexican ring warriors, he never backed down from a tough opponent; he was one rugged customer as reflected by his final record of 69-31-8 against the best opposition imaginable. In many respects, his level of opposition was like that of Ezzard Charles—simply incredible.

He passed way in 2001 at the young age of 62.

Rubén “El Púas” Olivares (1965-1988)

This legendary KO artist and multiple world champion finished with a remarkable 88-13-1 record with 77 KOs (KO percentage 74.04%). Among his victims were such powerhouses as Bobby Chacon, “Chucho” Castillo, Jose Luis Ramirez, Salvatore Burruni, Lionel Rose, Jose Medel, Takao Sakurai, Zensuke Utagawa, Art Hafey, Godfrey Stevens, Jesus Pimentel, Kid Pascualito, Efren Torres, and Jose Arranz. Along the way, Olivares won the WBC and WBA featherweight championships, and the WBC and WBA bantamweight titles.

He went undefeated in his first 61 bouts (60-0-1) until losing to Castillo, but he avenged that defeat the following year to regain the WBC bantamweight and the WBA World bantamweight titles. He also avenged his draw with German Bastidas. These accomplishments came during a time when such other legends as Castillo, Chacon, Medel, Jesus Pimentel, and Danny Lopez were doing their thing; it was a grand time for boxing in Mexico and on the West Coast of the United Sates—one that likely will never be repeated.

When “El Puas” fought and lost to Rafael Herrera, his record was a remarkable 69-2-1. Later, after losing a UD to Bobby Chacon, he reeled off four wins against Ricky Gutierrez, Jose Luis Ramirez (his only stoppage loss), Shig Fukuyama, and Isaac Vega, showing that he still had something left.

Considered by many as the greatest bantamweight champion of all time, he was fittingly inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1985 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991.He is also number 12 on The Ring magazine’s list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. Pound-for-pound, he may well have been the hardest puncher of all.

Octavio “Famoso” Gomez (1966-1977)

“[Danny ‘Little Red’] Lopez then dropped a points decision to the skillful and underrated veteran, Octavio ‘Famoso’ Gomez, but the positive aspect of these reverses was that they probably taught Danny more about the tough trade of fighting than most of his earlier triumphs.”—Mike Casey

“Famoso” was a bit of a globetrotter and would willingly fight in his opponent’s home country, including such diverse locales as Panama, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Brazil. Like so many other fierce warriors spawned in Tepito, the level of his opposition was off the charts and included Katsuyoshi Takayama (whom Gomez beat in only his seventh bout), Ruben Olivares, Efren Torres, Kid Pascualito, fellow Tepito native Rodolfo Martinez, Alfredo Marcano, Art Hafey, Rafael Herrera, Oscar Arnal, Danny Lopez, and the legendary Eder Jofre. He won his last five bouts and ended up with an old school mark of 61-19-6 but then again, he was old school. But Famoso was more than old school; he was a tough son of Tepito who was willing to duke with the best at anytime and anywhere he and more than held his own.

Tepito (Part One)
Tepito (Part Two)
Tepito (Part Three)

Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and holds several world and state records. He enjoys writing about boxing.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Jose Medel TKO6 Walter McGowan

Jose Medel vs Fighting Harada I-(part 1)

Jose Medel vs Fighting Harada I-(part 2)

Ruben Olivares - Kazuyoshi Kanazawa II

Eusebio Pedroza - Ruben Olivares

Ruben Olivares vs Chucho Castillo I

Eder Jofre vs Gomez

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  1. Big Wally 09:49pm, 09/22/2015

    Nicely done Ted. I like it when you do some historical stuff. Do some more.

  2. The Tijuana Kid 08:47pm, 09/22/2015

    The names listed in this article are legendary. That era of boxing will never be duplicated. Fighters of that caliber will never mix it like they all did.

  3. Tex Hassler 08:41pm, 09/22/2015

    Jose Medel was perhaps the least know of the fighters you mention but he fought literally any one who wanted to fight. Mexico may have more corruption in boxing than the USA but that may be saying too much. He was a tough, hard punching, well trained fighter in a era of tough fighters. He held his own with any fighter who got in the ring with him. Thanks for this great informative article Mr. Sares.

  4. KB 03:40pm, 09/22/2015

    Thank you for your early—and I hope-first of many visits. How some of these men have been neglected over the years is beyond me but That’s one of the reasons I like to write about them. Medal was incredible. Maybe being from Tepito had some kind of stigma but now, most of the stalls are run by Koreans.

  5. Clarence George 03:10pm, 09/22/2015

    German Ohm?!  Not a name that comes up much these days, and I’m very glad to see him mentioned here.  He quit the ring very young, never returned, and pretty much disappeared.  I don’t mean he necessarily pulled a Judge Crater, but I don’t know if anyone’s heard anything of him since the late 1950s.

    And another thing, how the hell can anyone from Chile be named Godfrey Stevens?

    By the way, what justification can there possibly be for the wonderfully nicknamed “Little Poison” yet to be inducted into the IBHOF?  None.  There, I said it.

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