Rest In Peace Jose Torres - "Chegui" Passes Away At Age 72

by James Slater - It has been revealed that boxing legend Jose Torres, the former world light-heavyweight champion, passed away earlier today from a heart attack. He was 72-years-old. After capturing a silver medal as a junior-middleweight at the 1956 Olympics, Torres, of Puerto Rico, turned pro in May 1958, winning a 1st round KO over Gene Hamilton in Brooklyn, New York. Most of Torres' 45 pro fights took place in The US, with a handful of bouts held in his native Puerto Rico (and one bout held in Sydney Australia). Soon becoming a respected and popular middleweight, a 26-year-old Torres captured the Puerto Rican middleweight title..

Fighting mostly in Massachusetts and New York, the fighter nicknamed "Chegui" climbed up the rankings with wins over good men like Don Fullmer (brother of middleweight king Gene) and Carl "Bobo" Olsen. Having been beaten only once, via 5th round TKO to Florentino Fernandez, and with a draw to Benny "Kid" Paret to spoil his otherwise perfect record, Torres made the move up to 175-pounds in 1964, with the 1st round KO win over Olsen. Then, the following year, against Willie Pastrano, Jose won the world light-heavyweight title. Scoring a 9th round TKO win at Madison Square Garden in March, Torres was the champion when Pastrano was prevented from coming out for the 10th round.

A points win over heavyweight contender Tom McNeeley followed in his homeland, before three consecutive successful title defences. Beating the trio that was Wayne Thornton (WU 15), Eddie Cotton (WU 15) and Chic Calderwood (KO 2) Torres kept his title until December of 1966 - with the Cotton fight being awarded Ring magazine's fight of the year trophy for 1966. Running into the great Dick Tiger in December of that year, Torres was beaten by unanimous decision over 15 rounds. In a rematch five months later, Torres made the fight closer, losing a split verdict.

Now aged 32, Torres had just two more bouts - wining both of them by KO. Bob Dunlop was seen off in six rounds in Sydney, and Charlie "Devil" Green was KO'd in just two rounds in July of 1967 - however, the fight was in no way an easy one for Torres, as he himself was put down twice before ending the slugfest in the 2nd. It proved a quite spectacular way in which to leave the sport as a participant.

After retiring from fighting, Torres became a successful author, as well as becoming the president of the WBO and before that the commissioner of The New York State Athletic Commission. Torres penned the best-selling "Fire and Fear" on Mike Tyson, along with "Sting Like a Bee," a biography of the great Muhammad Ali. Jose was the commissioner of the N.Y.S.A C from 1984 to 1988 and he was the WBO president from 1990 to 1995.

The former champ returned to live full time in Puerto Rico in 2007, and it was at home there in Ponce where the 72-year-old died of heart failure earlier today.

Jose Torres, born May 3rd, 1936 - died January 19th, 2009. World light-heavyweight champion from March 1965 to December 1966. Pro Record 41-3-1(29).

Article posted on 19.01.2009

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