Gabriel “Flash” Elorde deserves to be remembered by a very grateful nation. For exactly 55 years ago, or on March 16, 1960 to be exact, he brought honor and pride to our country and our people when he knocked out then defending champion Harold Gomes of US and won the world junior lightweight (now super featherweight) championship trophy. The knockout came in the seventh round of a scheduled 15-round match.
Elorde’s victory was made more colorful and unforgettable when he knocked down Gomes for seven times –almost successively in the second, third, fifth and seventh rounds – before that historic knockout in the seventh round. The event was held at the Araneta Coliseum on the occasion of its inauguration when the general admission was priced at eighty centavos only.
Yes. P0.80 only was the price for the General Admission and later it went up to One Peso (P1) where the price for the ringside was only P40.
And it was for that reason that Elorde received P15,000 only for that fight which was clearly a far cry from the billions of pesos that Manny Pacquiao will reportedly receive in his forthcoming fight with Floyd Mayweather.
I could vividly remember when my late father and I watched Flash Elorde’s fight against Love Allotey in 1963 at the Araneta Coliseum. The fight was stopped in the eleventh round when Allotey was disqualified for repeated fouling in their 15-round fight. I have it in my notes that after the fight Flash Elorde said: “Nalalaman kong hindi ko kayo nabigyan ng kasiyahan, ngunit ginawa ko ang lahat ng aking magagawa. Ang pagkakaalam ko ang larong ito ay malinis at ako’y nakahandang mamatay basta’t malinis ang labanan.”
I recall Elorde said these in tears. I knew because I was also in tears but was keeping them away from my father.
I still keep all my old files of newspaper clippings and some memorabilia items of Flash Elorde’s fights and life. And on this 55th year of keeping my files, I cannot control the urge of sharing them with those who were already around when Flash Elorde was the ringside hero of the Filipino nation. I am sure, they also want to remember “The Flash”.
And this article I also share even to the younger generation who should be inspired by the humble origin of Flash Elorde and how he, like Manny Pacquiao, generously shared his blessings to those who are in need.
In 1963, Elorde donated P1,400 to the children’s ward of V. Luna Hospital. The amount was part of the purse he received in his fight against Love Allotey. In 1964, he donated to the Japan government the amount of $300 US dollars (or equivalent to P1,200 at then exchange rate of P4-$1).
And so as we feel the thrill and excitement of the forthcoming Pacquiao versus Mayweather fight, let us pause for a moment and say even a little prayer for Gabriel “Flash” Elorde by way of thanking him for the glory and honor he brought to our country.
*At 68 years old, Macalintal is an avid boxing fan since his younger days. He holds the distinction of being the only one in the world who had two (2) hours with Muhammad Ali when the latter was in the country for the “Thrilla in Manila” fight in 1975. Macalintal’s only pass to see Ali was a scrapbook containing news clippings of Ali’s fights in the 60s when Ali was still known as Cassius Clay. Ali signed some pages of this scrap book. The author also served as the election lawyer of Manny Pacquiao in various elections when the latter entered the political arena.