FMA Circle of Negros Island, Philippines FMA Circle of Negros Island, Philippines

Sunday, October 02, 2005


The first world boxing champion from Negros and Asia. Pancho Villa, the Negrosanons' pride.

Written by Western Visayas’ premier martial arts historian James U. Sy Jr. at the request of FMA Circle of Negros Island

Negrenses might not know it but the first world boxing champion from Asia was born on August 1, 1901 in Ilog, Negros Occidental. His name, Francisco Guilledo, better known as Pancho Villa in the boxing world. The teenager Guilledo started his boxing career in 1919.

Adopting the name of a famous Mexican revolutionary leader, Guilledo campaigned in the USA in 1922.

At the age of 22, Pancho Villa challenged reigning world flyweight champion Jimmy Wilde of Wales on June 18, 1923 and pummeled him to submission throughout their 7 round encounter at the Polo Grounds in New York, USA. Right after knocking out his foe with punches to the stomach and the jaw, he helped the fallen Wilde return to his corner, for which a woman reached out to shake his gloves. The woman was Mrs. Wilde. Despite his reach advantage, Wilde didn’t had a chance. 23,000 spectators, who paid a total of US$94,950.00, witnessed the bout. Pancho Villa thus became the first Asian, Filipino, and Negrense world boxing champion.

Pancho Villa made 3 successful defenses of his crown in 2 years against Georgie Marks (February 8, 1924, New York, USA), Frankie Ash (May 30, 1924, Brooklyn, New York), and Jose Sencio (May 1, 1925, Manila, Philippines).

On July 4, 1925, world flyweight champion Pancho Villa, 5’1”, fought welterweight Jimmy McLarnin with an ulcerated tooth. Pancho Villa lost in his last bout, which was a non-title match, via a controversial 10-round decision. McLarnin went on to become the welterweight champion of the world. It was common at that time for lighter boxers to fight the ones in the heavier category because of the shortage of boxers.

On July 14, 1925, 10 days after his last bout and 18 days before his 24th birthday, Pancho Villa died because of complications from his ulcerated tooth. He had a record of 71-4-5-19 22 KO. His 19 no decisions were bouts held in areas where boxing was illegal.

In 1994, 4 Asians were enshrined into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in New York. Pancho Villa, touted as the greatest flyweight of the century by the Associated Press, and Gabriel "Flash" Elorde, another great Filipino boxing champion, were two of them.


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