Sergio Borges’s Out of the Box: The Greatest Cuban Fighter of All Time!

August 19, 2019

Kid Chocolate

By: Sergio F. Borges

Eligio “KID CHOCOLATE / THE CUBAN BON BON” Sardiñas Montalvo, Professional record: 136-10-6 (51); Amateur record: 100-0-0 (86). [NOTE: AMATEUR RECORD UNVERIFIABLE]

Born in Havana, Cuba in 1910, he became the first Cuban World Champion. Kid Chocolate simultaneously held two World title belts in two different weight divisions, Jr. Lightwe won in the Featherweight and Super Featherweight divisions in the 1930’s. He is considered by most boxing historians and experts as a Top 5 all-time Featherweight/Junior Lightweight fighter. Monte Cox called him, “A living, breathing boxing instruction book.”

Kid Chocolate won his first 51 professional fights without a loss before coming out on the short end of a split decision to Jackie “Kid” Berg in 1930. Some would say that his Afro-Cuban race and ethnicity was deemed to have played a major factor in 5 highly controversial losses and 1 draw he suffered throughout his career? All 5 questionable losses and the draw where versus Caucasian fighters. Eliminate those and Kid Chocolate would’ve had a record of 99-0-0 before being stopped in the rematch against 3 division World Champion Tony Canzoneri.

Kid Chocolate is credited as one of the pioneers of modern-day boxing and as the first pugilist to be trademarked as a “slick-fighter.” His biggest fan was “Sugar” Ray Robinson, who went on record saying, that he had never seen anyone box like Kid Chocolate before. Robinson, himself, was often referred to as “the new Kid Chocolate” by journalists of that time.

During an era in which “Crow Laws” were widely enforced, especially in the Southern Region of the U.S., Kid Chocolate’s popularity reached main-stream culture and way beyond New York City, where his popularity was ‘Babe Ruth’ like. Future Heavyweight Champion of the World, Ezzard Charles, called Kid Chocolate his hero. A young Ezzard recalled the day he saw Kid Chocolate drive his car through Charles’ West End neighborhood in Cincinnati ahead of Kid’s second bout with diminutive local Johnny Farr in 1932. Reportedly one of the local children that had been inadvertently lured towards Kid’s showy car asked him how many suits he owned, to which Kid Chocolate replied (in broken English), “365”; he had one suit for every day of the year.

In “Pound for Pound,” a biography of “Sugar” Ray Robinson, author Herb Boyd recounted that, as a young man in 1929, Henry Jackson read a news article stating Kid Chocolate made $75,000 for about a half-hour’s worth of warfare. It would inspire Jackson to drop the idea of becoming a day laborer and deploy himself to the gym. Henry Jackson would later be called “Homicide” Hank Armstrong and simultaneously held titles in 3 different divisions.

Kid Chocolate was the Babe Ruth of Cuba. He was slick in the ring. Flashy and flamboyant outside of it. Kid Chocolate loved to “floss.” Pictures of him are so ahead of there time. For that era in time, to see a Black man with tailored suits standing next to a white man, it surely would have inspired a generation to believe in themselves no matter what color?

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