Panama Al Brown

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"Panama" Al Brown
Class of 1992
Old Timer Category
Hall of Fame bio:click
World Boxing Hall of Fame Inductee

Name: Panama Al Brown
Alias: Kid Theophilo
Birth Name: Alphonso Teofilo Brown
Born: 1902-07-05
Birthplace: Colon, Panama
Died: 1951-04-11 (Age:48)
Hometown: Paris, France
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 5′ 9″   /   175cm
Reach: 72½″   /   184cm
Boxing Record: click

Division: Bantamweight
Managers: Tom Fahy, Dave Lumiansky, Lew Burston, Leon Bellier
Panama Al Brown Gallery

While clerking for the United States Shipping Board in the Panama Canal Zone, Al Brown watched American military personnel boxing. It interested him. So-much-so that he decided to try the sport himself. In time he became the Panama Ithmus Champion. Brown's talent then caught the attention of American boxing manager Tom Fahy, who brought him to New York City.

A fan favorite, at 5' 11" with a 76 inch reach, Panama Al Brown was one of the tallest and rangiest boxers in bantamweight history. Under the guidance of new manager Dave Lumiansky, Brown won the then-vacant New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) World Bantamweight Title June 18, 1929, with a decision over Vidal Gregorio, becoming Panama's and Latin America's first boxing World Champion. (See history of that bout here.)

On October 7, 1929, National Boxing Association President Edward Foster announced that, following a telegraphic conference among its members, the NBA had proclaimed Panama Al Brown its World Bantamweight Champion. (New York Times, Oct. 8, p. 24.) (Brown reportedly also had won the International Boxing Union (IBU) World Bantamweight Title sometime during this period.)

Over the next six years, Al Brown would defend various versions of the World Bantamweight Title in Paris, Montreal, Milan, London, and elsewhere, before losing what was later considered the generally-recognized bantamweight title to Spain's Baltazar Sangchili in June 1935. Then, after Brown lost to his former nemesis Pete Sanstol a few months later in Oslo, Norway, he decided to retire from boxing. (During an interview with Alexandria, Virginia, newspaper reporter Bob McCormick--before his January 10, 1933 bout with Jimmy Mack--Sanstol, reflecting on his August 1931 bout with the Panamanian, described Brown's fighting style: "Not once did Brown get himself in a hole. And not once did he waste a blow or the least little drop of energy.")

Two years later, Brown reconsidered his retirement, making a comeback in September 1937. He scored five straight wins before defeating former foe and champion Sangchili on March 4, 1938, in Paris. Based upon this victory he was declared once again the "world bantamweight champion" by the International Boxing Union, which was headquartered in Paris. He successfully defended this "title" against Valentin Angelmann, but then, unable to make the bantam weight limit any longer, soon after gave up his claim to this IBU title. (The Ring, August 1985, p. 27.) Brown finally called it quits in 1942, having never been stopped throughout his long career.

After his boxing career ended Al Brown fronted an orchestra on the French Riviera for a while. (The Ring, August 1985, p. 27.)

"Ironically, cocaine proved the downfall of Panama's and Latin America's first boxing champion -- Panama Al Brown. Brown was arrested in New York in the 1940s for using cocaine. The judge ordered Brown to be deported for one year, a pretty lenient sentence under the circumstances." (The Ring, March 1988, p. 11.)

In 1951, a penniless 48-year-old Panama Al Brown died of tuberculosis in New York City. Originally buried in New York City, his remains later were interred at Amador Guerrero Cemetery in Panama City, Panama. (Click here for an image of his gravesite.)

See also:

Preceded by:
Vacant (since 1927)
NYSAC World Bantamweight Champion
18 June 1929– unknown date (recognition withdrawn)
Succeeded by:
Sixto Escobar
Preceded by:
Vacant (since 1927)
(Title awarded by telephone vote)
NBA World Bantamweight Champion
7 Oct 1929– May 1934 (recognition withdrawn)
Succeeded by:
Sixto Escobar
Preceded by:
Pete Sanstol
Inaugural Champion
Montreal Athletic Commission World Bantamweight Champion
25 August 1931–unknown date (recognition withdrawn)
Succeeded by:
Sixto Escobar