On Sept. 19, 1938, Filipino welterweight boxer and future middleweight world boxing champion Ceferino Garcia (1906-1981) knocked out Otto Blackwell in the ninth round of a scheduled 10-round main event at the Kaua‘i Park Athletic Field in Lihu‘e before a crowd of about 2,000 mostly-Filipino fight fans.
A week later, he scored another knockout over Tony Roccaforte at the Civic Auditorium in Honolulu before returning to California.
Garcia, who was born into rural poverty on the Visayan island of Biliran, Philippines, never completed first grade, and became a fearsome street fighter early on in life in order to make money to survive.
Tough, talented and determined, he took up the sport of boxing in Cebu at the age of 17, and fought his first fight in Manila in 1923.
The hard-hitting Garcia compiled a lifetime record of 120 wins, 76 KOs, 30 losses and 14 draws, holds the record of most wins by a Filipino boxer, is the only Filipino to become world champion as a middleweight, and was inducted into the Ring magazine Hall of Fame in 1977 and the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1989.
Certainly one of the greatest boxers of all time, Garcia is also considered by some boxing experts to be the best Filipino boxer ever — even better than Manny Pacquiao, who won world championships in nine weight divisions, although the heaviest was light-middleweight.
On Oct, 2, 1939, Garcia won the world middleweight title with a TKO victory over Fred Apostoli at Madison Square Garden, New York, and defended his title three times before he was defeated by Ken Overlin on points in May 1940, also at Madison Square Garden.
Garcia is also credited with inventing the “bolo punch,” which resembles the swinging action of a bolo, a large cutting tool similar to a machete used in the Philippines.
World welterweight champion Kid Gavilan later became famous for using Garcia’s bolo punch, and the great Sugar Ray Leonard employed it to avenge his loss to another great boxer, Roberto Duran, in 1980.