Gilberto Holguin

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Gilberto Holguin

Name: Gilberto Holguin
Alias: Kanikas
Born: 1931-11-13
Died: 2010-12-03 (Age:79)
Hometown: El Paso, Texas, USA
Boxing Record: click


John Hall, El Paso Times, December 8, 2010 Gilberto Holguin, a local boxer for more than two decades, died Friday at age 79.

Fire Department workers found him dead in his home with the oven on and the oven door open. It is suspected he was using the appliance to heat his home and died of carbon monoxide poisoning, but authorities are waiting for a final report from the medical examiner's office.

Holguin is survived by six children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Holguin's son, Jose, said that the shock of his father's death has been hard on the family.

"I bought him a heater last year and I got so upset; he put it away and never brought it out again," Jose Holguin said. "I just wish I could have gone over that week."

Holguin, whose nickname was "Kanikas," or marbles, grew up in the Chihuahuita barrio with boxing already in his blood. His father, Jose Alfredo Holguin, fought at least 40 professional fights, mostly in California. Gilberto Holguin, who began his pro boxing career in 1947, was also an Army veteran who served during the '50s.

One of Holguin's biggest fights came in 1957 when he fought Texas welterweight champion Joe Brown. Holguin lost the bout on a split decision.

He retired from boxing in 1972 at 40. Advertisement He told the El Paso Times in a 1994 interview that he remembered every one of his fights. "I had 85 fights and won 65. I was a contender for a title fight, but I never got one."

Even after he retired from the ring, he built a small gym in his backyard and would train athletes in the neighborhood.

"It was his life," Jose Holguin said. "As he got older, he still loved boxing."

Holguin told the Times in 1994 that he was proud of his Chihuahuita roots. A street was renamed in his honor in the barrio.

Ladislao Vicencio, who organizes the annual Golden Gloves boxing tournament in El Paso, first met Holguin in 1971 as he was preparing for his final fight. "I was 19 when I met Gil. He helped me tremendously. He gave me an insight into boxing that only an older fighter like Gil could share with the younger fighters," Vicencio said.

Vicencio said he'll never forget Holguin's last fight in El Paso and the surprising outcome.

"He made his comeback just for this one fight," Vicencio said. "Everybody expected this young kid (Holguin's opponent) from Albuquerque just to score another win. They fought the main event at the Coliseum and to everybody's surprise, Gilbert beat him in a 10-round decision.

"When I visualize Kanikas, I visualize him smiling or laughing," Vicencio said. "He would make working out at the gymnasium very pleasurable. He was a character; he had a great sense of humor."

A rosary and visitation for Gilberto Holguin will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Mission Funeral Home, 2600 E. Yandell. Mass will be at 11:45 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of Gua da lupe, 2709 Alabama, and the burial will follow at Fort Bliss Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Golden Gloves or another charity in memory of Gilberto "Champ" Holguin.