Jose Manuel Urtain

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Jose Urtain

Name: Jose Manuel Urtain
Alias: Urtain-El Tigre de Cestona
Birth Name: Jose Manuel Ibar Azpiazu
Hometown: Cestona, País Vasco, Spain
Birthplace: Aizarnazábal, País Vasco, Spain
Died: 1992-07-21 (Age:49)
Height: 180cm
Pro Boxer: Record

Born Jose Manuel Ibar Aspiazu in Arrona, near Cestona, and raised on a farm. He had five brothers and four sisters. His brother Candido moved to South Florida in the United States and became a Jai Alai star. As a youth he tended sheep and competed in the sport of Rock-Lifting, which was popular in the Spanish region where he lived. Married Cecilia Urbieta in 1962. Urtain had three children: Jose Manuel, born in 1964, Maria Jesus, 1966, and Francisco, born in 1970.

Urtain was a big fan of Hollywood Westerns and Mexican music. From the age of 14 to 25, Urtain was the undefeated Rock-Lifting Champion of Spain. His records were: Lifting a 220 pound rock with one arm, and a 400 pound rock with two arms. Developed a very powerful and muscular build. His sister Antonia was also a rock lifting champion. At age 18, she was able to lift a 220 pound stone seven times.

Urtain had three fights as a neo-professional in 1968 (knocking out Yoni Rodri on July 24 in Ordizia, Mario Miranda on August 17 in San Sebastian and Paul Hirk on September 15 also in San Sebastian). Although sometimes listed in his record, under Spanish boxing rules neo-professionals were amateur fighters. Urtain would turn professional in Paris in December 1968 and would win his first 28 fights. He became so popular in Spain that a movie was made about his life entitled, Urtain, el rey de la selva...o asi. Spain's General Franco was his number 1 fan. Urtain was so confident of his punching power that he said, " Let me find the mark and my opponent is done." The government of Spain was reportedly willing to pay Joe Frazier over a million dollars to defend his title against Urtain in Spain. In Spain he was hailed as the new "El Cid". Thousands attended his fights. Urtain told his nation, " I fight for the Spanish people. "

Urtain made the cover of The Ring, and Nat Fleischer the editor of The Ring said, " No man who ever held the world heavyweight title could match Urtain's feats of strength." He defeated European Heavyweight Champions Jurgen Blin, Peter Weiland, Jack Bodell and Richard Dunn. Urtain also beat former WBA World Lightheavyweight Champion Vicente Paul Rondon, and former European Light-heavyweight Champ Yvan Prebeg. Urtain was a two-time European Heavyweight Champion, and won the Heavyweight Championship of Spain by knocking out Casimiro Martinez in nine rounds in Madrid, Spain, on July 2, 1975.

Urtain lost in an upset to England's Henry Cooper. Urtain's career started on the downslide after that defeat.

Urtain retired in 1977 following his knockout loss to Jean-Pierre Coopman. He tried for a comeback in 1986, but the Spanish Boxing Federation retired him because of his age (43).

On July 21, 1992, Urtain "fell out" of a hotel window and was killed. Some say he committed suicide by jumping out of the 10th floor window, others say it was a tragic accident. His death at 49 brought a tragic ending to the legend of Urtain, the man once dubbed as " Boxing's Superman."

Career Highlights

  • Won 30 straight fights by knockout.
  • Ring Magazine "Fighter of The Month" in July 1970 issue.
  • Knocked out Tony Rodri in 17 seconds.
  • Knocked out Ireno Werleman in 62 seconds at Bilbao, Spain in front of a crowd of 12,000 fans.
  • Won the European Heavyweight Title by knocking out Peter Weiland in front of 13,000 fans in Madrid, Spain, at the Palicio De Los Deportes.
  • Knocked down for the first time in his career by Jurgen Blin in their first fight; Urtain won the 15 round decision.
  • In 1971, when Muhammad Ali was in Spain to fight an exhibition with Gregorio Manuel Peralta, Urtain entered the ring and lifted Ali over his head.


  • Internet Movie Database.
  • Ring Magazine ,July 1970, pages 6-9, IS URTAIN ANOTHER PAULINO? by Dan Daniel.
  • Ring Magazine, July 1970, pages 10, 11, 40, EUROPE RATES URTAIN SECOND TO FRAZIER AS GATE ATTRACTION, by J.A. Tree.