History | Sep 09 2019

On This Day: Puerto Rican great Carlos Ortiz was born in 1936

Lightweight legend Carlos Ortiz is one of his nation's favourite sons

PUERTO RICO of course has its reputation as a fine fighting island. Carlos Ortiz was at the vanguard of boxers who forged that reputation in the ring. The son of Puerto Rican parents, Ortiz grew up in New York. He may have learned to fight on the streets he walked as a child but pursuing a career as a boxer was one of the more desirable options available to the son of new immigrants.

He fought frequently in his first two years as a professional, his first blip coming against Lou Filippo. Dropped twice himself, he put Filippo down after the ninth round had ended. Initially Ortiz was disqualified but the result was later switched to a No Contest. They fought a rematch only a month later, with Ortiz stopping him on cuts. That proved to be Filippo’s last bout. Carlos didn’t suffer his first loss until 1958, to Johnny Busso, a result which he again reversed in a prompt rematch.

Later that year, he travelled to London (where he had boxed as an amateur) to fight the “Dartford Destroyer” Dave Charnley, outpointing him at the Harringay Arena. But Ortiz longed to fight Joe Brown, the world’s reigning lightweight champion. Brown was otherwise engaged.