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Kid Gavilan, byname of Gerardo Gonzalez (born Jan. 6, 1926, Camagüey, Cuba—died Feb. 13, 2003, Miami, Fla., U.S.), Cuban professional boxer and world welterweight champion who was known for his “bolo punch,” a searing right hook-cum-uppercut - which still remains one of the most exciting shots in a boxer's armoury. While the modern tendency of baiting opponents has seen the bolo punch used frequently, few fighters have emulated the sweeping style of Gavilan, who claimed to have perfected the motion from his years using a machete on Cuba's sugar plantations.

Gavilan said that cutting sugarcane during his youth in Cuba helped him to perfect his punching technique. A full two decades before Muhammad Ali was to enthral crowds with the "Ali Shuffle", the Cuban-born Gavilan was giving similarly memorable displays of showmanship. Indeed, the colourful "Cuban Hawk" even executed his own little dance routine during his fights.

He took up boxing at the age of 10, and had 60 amateur bouts before making his professional debut in Havana in June 1943. After losing just once in 24 fights, in 1947 he went to America, where his exploits in the ring made him a hero in pre-Castro Cuba.

Gavilan was managed by Yamil Chade, a boxing manager (based in Puerto Rico) who also directed the careers of Wilfredo Gómez, Wilfred Benítez, Carlos De León and Félix Trinidad among others. He started as a professional boxer on the evening of June 5, 1943, when he beat Antonio Diaz by a decision in four rounds in Havana. His first ten bouts were in Havana, and then he had one in Cienfuegos, but soon he returned to Havana for three more wins. After 14 bouts, he left Cuba for his first fight abroad, and he beat Julio César Jimenez by a decision in 10 rounds in his first of three consecutive fights in Mexico City. It was there that he suffered his first defeat, at the hands of Carlos Macalara by a decision. They had an immediate rematch, this time in Havana, and Gavilan avenged that loss, winning by decision too. Gavilan had a record of 25 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw already when he had his first fight on American soil. This happened on November 1, 1946, when he beat Johnny Ryan by a knockout in five rounds at New York City.

He would split his time between the Eastern coast of the United States and Havana in 1947, a year in which he went 11-1-1 with 3 knockouts. However, by 1948 he had decided to stay in the United States indefinitely. That year, he met some very important fighters, like former world champion Ike Williams, who beat him by decision in ten, Tommy Bell, against whom Gavilan won by decision, Sugar Ray Robinson, who beat him by decision in ten, and Tony Pellone, with Gavilan obtaining a decision against Pellone.

In 1952, he defended the title with success against Bobby Dykes, Gil Turner, and with Graham in a third encounter between the two. All those fights were won by decision in 15. He also had five non title bouts, including three that were a part of an Argentinian tour. His third fight with Graham was his first world title defense in Havana and his fight with Dykes marked the first time that a black man and a white man had a boxing fight in then-segregated Miami, Florida. In 1953, Gavilan retained the title by a knockout in ten against Chuck Davey, by a decision in 15 against Carmen Basilio and by a decision in 15 against Bratton. He had seven non title bouts, losing to Danny Womber, but beating Ralph Tiger Jones. In 1954, Gavilan went up in weight. After two more points wins, he challenged world Middleweight champion Bobo Olson for the world title, but lost a decision in 15. Then, he went down in weight, and lost his world Welterweight championship, by a decision in 15 to Johnny Saxton. That same year, he appeared on a Telemundo Puerto Rico poster that promoted that country's first television transmission.

From that point until 1958, when he retired, he had a career of ups and downs. He lost to Dykes, Jones, Eduardo Lausse, former world champion Tony DeMarco, Vince Martinez and Gaspar Ortega, but he also beat Ortega, Jones and Chico Vejar, among others. After losing to Yama Bahama by decision in ten on June 18, 1958, he never fought again, announcing his retirement on September 11 of that year. Gavilan was one of the few boxers never knocked out in their professional careers. In 1966, he was inducted into the original boxing Hall of Fame, as well as the International Boxing Hall Of Fame in Canastota, New York. He had a record of 107 wins, 30 losses and 6 draws, with one no contest (boxing) and 27 wins by knockout in a career that spanned 143 professional fights.

But Gavilan's reputation was tarnished by his involvement in several fights which were almost certainly fixed, during an era when the Mafia forged close links with the sport. The most notorious of these bouts was the contest which cost Gavilan his world title when he lost, on a points decision, to Johnny Saxton at Philadelphia on October 20 1954.

The outcome is regarded as one of the worst in boxing history: no fewer than 20 of the 22 ringside reporters adjudged Gavilan the winner. Five years earlier, shortly before Gavilan challenged Sugar Ray Robinson for the world welterweight crown, one Gavilan opponent is said to have refused an offer of $100,000 to take a dive.


Kid Gavilan (Cuban boxer). (2014). Retrieved on April 27, 2014, from

Kid Gavilan. (2014). Retrieved on April 27, 2014, from

Kid Gavilán. (2014). Retrieved on April 27, 2014, from

Propaganda Scores a TKO » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names .... (2014). Retrieved on April 27, 2014, from

Struggles Nearly Ko Boxing Hero. (2014). Retrieved on April 27, 2014, from


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