Before Barry Allen came to fame and claimed the title as “The Flash”, Cebu already produced a local hero that brought glory to the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific Region – Gabriel “Flash” Elorde.
Born on March 25, 1935, Flash Elorde was raised as the youngest of the 15 children from the city of Bogo, Cebu. Because of extreme poverty, he was forced to stop by third grade and began working as a bearer of bowling balls and carpenter at an early age. He then developed the love for boxing because of a former professional boxer friend, Lucio Laborte.
Titles and Victories
Gabriel “Flash” Elorde debuted in the boxing world at the age of 16 when he won against Kid Gonzaga in the fourth round of their fight in 1951. On the same year, he earned the Bantamweight title. This southpaw was well-known for his quick hand movements and relentless way of attacking the bodies of the opponent to which the sportswriter and former ombudsman of ESPN, Rober Lipstyle described as the “Subtle Little Temple-Dancer Moves”; hence the name “Flash”.
From winning 10 fights in Cebu, Elorde began making his way into the national and international level. He defeated Tanny Campo and Hiroshi Horiguchi in a 12-round fight and garnered the Philippine and Asian Bantamweight titles. This opened a number of opportunities for him to fight other boxers outside the country including the World Super Featherweight Champion Harold Gomes.
In 1960, underdog Elorde knocked out the defending world champion from Rhodes Island, Harold Gomes, in the seventh round of their fight. The whole country celebrated this momentous victory as it ended the 20-year world championship drought of the country after Ceferino Garcia – the father of “Bolo Punch” from Biliran who lost in the Middleweight Division which he championed over until 1940. It was said that an estimated number of 30,000 audience came rushing into the ring upon seeing the downfall of Gomes. He was able to defend his title ten times until June 15, 1967 when he lost to a majority decision against Yoshiaki Numata of Japan. Still, that made him the longest-reigning World Junior Lightweight Champion ever. That’s approximately seven years and three months!
Aside from this, Elorde was able to hold the following title for years:
- Lineal Super Featherweight Title
- WBC and WBA Super Featherweight Title
- First Filipino and Asian inducted into the New York-based International Boxing Hall of Fame
- Enshrined into the World Boxing Hall of Fame
- 78th Best Fighter by the Ring Magazine’s writer in 2002
The innovative footwork and lightning speed maneuvers of Flash Elorde which he learned from eskrima, was also adopted by many boxers like Muhammad Ali.
Though the Flash retired from boxing at an early age and died of lung cancer at 49, his record of 88 wins with 33 knockouts, 27 losses and 2 draws remains unparalleled. In the WBC history, he is considered as the Greatest Featherweight Champion of all time.