Cocoa Kid

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Cocoa Kid2.JPG
Class of 2012
Modern Category
Hall of Fame bio [1]

Name: Cocoa Kid
Alias: Louis Kid Cocoa
Birth Name: Herbert Lewis Hardwick
Born: 1914-05-02
Birthplace: Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
Died: 1966-12-27 (Age:52)
Hometown: New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 5′ 10½″   /   179cm
Boxing Record: click

Managers: Walter Travers, Pete Reilly, Sammy Shack, Lou Caroby, Bernie Bernstein

Cocoa Kid was rated in the top ten by The Ring magazine as a lightweight, welterweight, and middleweight between 1933 and 1947. He was one among a set of feared African American fighters now known as Murderers' Row who engaged in fierce rivalries among themselves while champions looked the other way. Cocoa Kid is noted for his rivalry with Holman Williams, whom he faced thirteen times -- winning eight, losing three, and drawing in two.

Cocoa Kid made the cover of the Oct. 9, 1943 The Knockout magazine.

He was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico to a Puerto Rican mother of Spanish descent and an African American mariner from Atlanta, Georgia whose name was Lewis Herbert Hardwick. While still an infant, he and his mother were brought to Atlanta. He was orphaned after his father disappeared with the ship USS Cyclops during WWI. His mother died soon afterward. He was raised by maternal aunt Antonia Arroyo and an African American of West Indian descent named E.W. Robinson. Robinson was his first manager when he began boxing in Atlanta at fourteen years old. In 1932, former Connecticut state senator Harry Durant saw him in West Palm Beach and sponsored his move to New Haven where he began campaigning as Cocoa Kid.

The best evidence indicates that Cocoa Kid's legal name was "Herbert Lewis Hardwick." It has been well-established that he was named for his father. Cocoa Kid was known as "Lew Hardwick" in Atlanta and his grandmother called him "Louie." His uncle told the New Haven Register in February 1932 that his name was "Herbert Louis [Lewis] Hardwick." A New Haven phone directory has him listed as "Louis E. Harwick" in 1933. He went by "Lewis" but would later identify more with his Puerto Rican heritage and Latinize his name from Louis to Luis and use the names Elberto and Humberto at different times. According to the Holyoke Daily Transcript-Telegram (5/24/1933), he was born "Elberto Louis Harwick" [without the "d"] though this has not been confirmed. The name "Arroyo" was his mother's maiden name. He does not seem to use it until the 1940s, despite the fact that the use of duel surnames is a custom in Spanish culture.

For the whole tragic story of Cocoa Kid, see Springs Toledo's "Murderers' Row: In Search of Boxing's Greatest Outcasts" (Tora, 2017).

Cocoa Kid was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2012.