The Golden Era of Boxing in Panama



During the sixties and seventies, Panama was well-known for its boxing champions.  We had the best boxers in the region.  Names like Roberto “Mano de Piedra” Duran, Peppermint Frazer, Ismael Laguna, Hilario Zapata and much more spread the word around the world that Panama had the best boxers in the region.  Mano de Piedra Duran is a living legend in this country.  I understand he is also well loved in the States amongst the boxing community.

Many boxing fans still remember the infamous fight between him and Sugar Ray Leonard where Mano de Piedra said the unfortunate words, “No más, no más” (No more, no more).  They are good friends now.  Those decades were the Golden Days of Panamanian boxing champs.

A few years ago I visited the humble gym where young boxers start learning the ropes, no pun intended.  The place is known as Gimnasio Rockero Alcázar in Curundú.  I met several boxers there and exchanged a few words about the boxing world.  It was a rewarding experience.  Boxing is a tough sport!

Good Day!

5 thoughts on “The Golden Era of Boxing in Panama”

  1. I have always loved boxing. When I was a kid in grade school there was a television program, “Friday Night Fights.” I’d go to bed right after supper and my dad would wake me up to watch the fights. I saw great ones like Ezzard Charles, the Archie Moore, Yvonne Durrell fight was one of the classic ring battles of all times. Each man was knocked down and then got up and knocked the other down until Moore finally knocked Durrell out. I remember such fighters from those years as Kid Gavalan, and Rocky Grazziano, not to mention Marciano.

    In ’87 I got a job running a boat for the gentleman who had run Marvelous Marvin Hagler’s training camp for 10 years. Brooke owned the Provincetown Inn out on the tip end of Cape Cod and Marvin trained there. Brooke set up a ring out under the huge covered swimming pool. He bought the ring from the Marciano family and two world champions trained in it. Being a boxing fan all my life it was a thrill to stand in a corner and imagine you were facing off against either one.

    I always liked Duran. Pound for pound one of the best boxers EVER, and hands down the greatest lightweight of all time! His two battles against Kenny Buchanan were epic.

    1. We are on the same page, Richard. I remember the fighters that you mentioned. Oscar de la Joya was a great one as well. Muhammed Alí, Mano de Piedra Duran, and Sugar Ray Leonard are on the top of my list. But it’s difficult to name them all who made the sport great. Manny Pacquiao comes to my mind as well.

      Boxing has been on the decline in this country. It would be nice to see it rebound to the way it was during the sixties and seventies when Panama was the cradle of the greatest boxing champions of the region. BTW, we were also great in horse racing. Names like Braulio Baeza, Jacinto Vásquez, and Laffit Pincay were the creme-de-la-creme in the U.S. racing tracks.

      1. Some of the worlds greatest jockeys came from the isthmus for sure.

        I doubt boxing will ever come back the way it used to be. Grinding poverty was what drove so many men into the ring. It’s not the same anymore.

  2. I love Roberto Duran. The first Leonard vs Duran fight is a classic. It could have been the same result in the 2nd fight if Leonard did not change strategy, Leonard box instead of fighting toe to toe. How about Manny Pacquiao vs Roberto Duran (if they happen to be in the same era)?

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