Jose Maria Gatica, the great champion of the Argentine people, would be 96 years old today. His boxing was a spectacle, his existence was marked as a legend and his story is worthy of being told by LEFT PUNCH.
The Monkey Gatica He was born in Villa de Mercedes, San Luis, on May 25, 1925. On that date, Argentina was celebrating the 115th anniversary of the creation of its first National Government.
There were difficult times for the family Kitty, so the star embryo did not have a childhood like any other. By 1935, they had to move to the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. He worked from a very early age, as a shoe shine in the Plaza Constitución.
Perhaps from those complex moments is that the Monkey he must have used the strength of his fists. Places to work were very limited, so he fought daily against other children to stay where he believed he was entitled.
In addition, once his day as a polisher was over, the man from San Luis would appear at different train stations. Right there, he would perform street duels as an additional modus vivendi. His particular and daring style caught the attention of some merchants with contacts in the box business. They offered him to participate in some clandestine evenings in old lodgings for British sailors.
The hefty bets came true night after night, blow by blow. The mischievous young man had minutiae of these sums left, which he used to live on. In addition, his ticket was more abstract than it seemed: the Argentine knew that, if he achieved brilliant triumphs, his entry into professionalism would be a fact.
The debut and professional career of José María Gatica
After his attractive amateur stage, to Jose Maria Gatica His great chance came to him in boxing professionalism.
Not everyone gets into the ring of the historic Luna Park to make their first rented contest and, as if it were a small thing, they win by knockout. Given milestone was marked on December 7, 1945.
The first opponent of the Monkey Gatica, of very little demand, was Leopoldo Mayorano. At the time of such a fight, Mayorano He had a negative record consisting of 10 losses. He ended his career without victories, with 17 setbacks and a single draw.
When it was his turn to say goodbye to rented boxing, Kitty he closed with him the historic number of 86 wins, 72 by fast track, seven losses and two draws.
The nicknames of José María Gatica and his relationship with politics
For his bravery on the ring, Jose Maria Gatica was baptized as “The Puntano Tiger“, By those who followed him night after night.
Gatica was a popular idol, one of the first who made the poorest dream of glory. For that same reason, the powerful ringside looked at him from the side. He did not like, he did not like. Sure, how could a poor man get so high?
The icing on the cake was placed when the General Juan Domingo Perón, who presided over the Argentine Republic at that time, gave his support to the boy from San Luis. It was the missing detail for the upper class to loathe him, and pejoratively power him as “Monkey“.
The crack widened when, in addition to the affection expressed, Peron He showed up at one of the sensation boxer fights and greeted him warmly.
“My General! Two powers greet each other! ”, The boxer shouted when he shook his hand with that of the historic politician.
The pleasure of both made it easier for Jose Maria Gatica all the support of the political class and the most humble. This helped him fight in the United States, and aim for the world title of Ike williams, which never came.
Alfredo Prada, the great rival of José María Gatica
Every superhero has his villain. All white has its black. Every point has its opposite. Jose Maria Gatica had his nemesis, the great Alfredo Prada.
Not so different, but somewhat distant, Kitty Y Prada they exhibited similar styles, with heavy blows and without fear of injury. Particularly, being the rival of Monkey, the pigheaded he sympathized with those of high rank, who stigmatized the needy from the top.
But they were wrong, even though they didn’t know or didn’t want to know. It turns out that the Santa Fe was even more Peronist than his sports enemy, whom he suffered on one occasion and defeated on another two.
I was affiliated with Justicialist Party, militated as a political activist, and approached every act of Juan Domingo Perón, when I could.
The twilight of his career, and the injury he suffered until the last of his days
More linked to entertainment than sports, Jose Maria Gatica His decline began in 1953. He did not train as before, and he thought more about going out at night than about continuing on the path of success.
Close to disappearance, the career of the Monkey suffered the final blow with the coup that overthrew Juan Domingo Perón. The self-proclaimed Liberation Revolution took away the license from Kitty, and prohibited him from boxing. If he wanted to fight, he had to do it in Argentina and clandestinely.
After the Puntano Tiger defeated Jesus AndreoliOn July 6, 1956 in Lomas de Zamora, the police were present on the premises. They closed the show, and took several of those present as detainees.
Due to his waste and waste, added to the impossibility of fighting and his alcoholism, the athlete returned to misery. In dependence on the charity, he did some changas in Villa Domínico and even volunteered to participate in Titans in the Ring, wrestling cycle produced and directed by Martin Karadagián.
The event took place in 1957, and it did not have the simulations or the typical sympathy of the fight. As the takes went by, things got pretty hot. Kitty He landed a right hand that hurt Karadagián, who took revenge and hit Villa Mercedes in one of his ankles and left him lame for life.
The Bombonera, Stadium of Boca Juniors where the charity day took place, he fell silent before the pain shown by the former fighter.
His tragic passing
Condemned to poverty, a flood washed away what few material goods he had left. Jose Maria Gatica.
Rained on the wet, and with an injury that did not allow him to return to the sport in any facet, the Monkey he sold dolls at the door of the soccer fields so he could eat.
Kitty He was run over by a bus on line 295, when he tried to return from what is now called Liberators of America, Estadio de Independiente, up to his box. He was 38 years old, and his remains were veiled at the headquarters of the Argentine Boxing Federation.
Currently, the body of the Puntano Tiger It rests vertically under the statue in his native Villa Mercedes. In that place, a boxing walk was also inaugurated in his honor. This ceremony was promoted by the governor Alberto Rodriguez Saa, and had the presence of Oscar de la hoya, who left his left fist etched into the pavement.
“Gatica, el Mono”, the film by Leonardo Favio
“Gatica the Monkey“Was the name that the multifaceted Leonardo Favio chose for the biopic of Jose Maria Gatica.
The legend was embodied by Edgardo Nieva, who shared the limelight with Horacio Taicher Y Virginia Inocenti.
The film portrays in great detail the life and work of Kitty, from his crude childhood to his terrible death.