The Puerto Rican people – on the island and the mainland – always loved Muhammad Ali. They respected his athleticism, courage and character.
But many people are unaware of Ali’s famous trip to Puerto Rico in February 1976…where he defeated a Belgian heavyweight, was hypnotized by Iris Chacón, and knocked out by Don Cholito.
Ali arrived in Puerto Rico on January 21, and spent a full month on the island before defeating Jean-Pierrre Coopman, on February 20 in Roberto Clemente Stadium.
Ali beat Coopman quite handily.
Here is a good recap of that fight:
But Ali captured Puerto Rico’s heart outside of Roberto Clemente Stadium…by fighting practically everyone in the island.
They set up a ring in El Oso Blanco, the largest maximum-security prison in Puerto Rico, and Ali fought anyone who stepped in it.
Then they set up a benefit fight between José Miguel Agrelot, aka Don Cholito.
This was was the big one.
Don Cholito stepped up bravely and got a few shots in…but his arms were a bit short, and fear started to show in his face.
Ali circled patiently, lethally, like a cobra…
Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, Iris Chacón jumped into the ring…and somehow managed to hypnotize Ali.
Cholito quickly attacked Ali, before he could recover from his hypnosis.
It was a very controversial knockout, but it did occur, and it was reported in the press.
Ali demanded a rematch but, for some reason, Cholito could never find time in his schedule…and the rematch never happened.
A PROFILE IN COURAGE AND CHARACTER
Throughout his boxing career, and for decades afterwards, Muhammad Ali set an example for the entire world. He was brash and boastful, but he was also deeply conscientious, and willing to stand up for his principles.
He was not afraid to speak out.
He even sacrificed his heavyweight title, rather than support the war in Vietnam.
He was good friends with Jose Chegüi Torres, and Chegüi wrote a book about him.
For his courage, his affection for Puerto Rico, and his deep humanity, the people of Puerto Rico will never forget Muhammad Ali.
For a history of the War Against All Puerto Ricans, read the book…
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