Victor Galindez - by Ron Jackson

Victor Galindez, who was placed in the International Boxing Hall of Fame housed in Canastota, USA, some ten years ago, will be well remembered by ten of thousands of South Africans who saw his four epic fights here during the 1970s.

Galindez first came to South Africa in April 1975 to defend the WBA title against local favourite Pierre Fourie. More than 40 000 wildly excited spectators at the Ellis Park rugby stadium saw Fourie’s ten-year-old dream shattered when he lost to Galindez over 15 rounds.

It was Fourie’s 53rd fight and his third attempt to win a world title, but despite a masterful exhibition of skill and speed he failed against the brute strength of the man called “The Animal”.

At the end of round 11 Fourie appeared to be slightly ahead, but the Argentinean clubbed away to take the last four rounds from the tiring South African, winning narrowly on points.

Many of the spectators felt Fourie had done enough to and did not cheer the champion after the result was announced.

Only five months later, on 13 September 1975, a record crowd of 45 000 at the Rand Stadium saw Galindez pull out another desperation finish to defeat Fourie in the return match over 15 rounds. Galindez started faster this time, but Fourie cut out most of the energysapping footwork that had been one of the main reasons for his fading in the first fight. The result was announced as a split decision, but this time there was no doubt that Galindez was a worthy winner.

Making his third visit to South Africa, Galindez once again retained his title in a sensational fight when he knocked out American Richie Kates moments before the final bell with a left hook to the jaw.

The fight almost ended in the third round when a head butt from Kates — as was claimed — split open the right eye of the champion. Galindez screamed in agony as the blood gushed out of the cut.

He was forced into his corner and the fight stopped while he received attention. The referee, Stan Christodoulou, could have disqualified the challenger, but decided to let the fight continue after the champion had recovered.

Galindez showed tremendous courage and fought back despite the bleeding. He took every opportunity to wipe the blood on the referee’s shirt as he chased after the challenger.

After the fight there was a dispute about whether the cut had been caused by a right from Kates or a deliberate butt. The Kates camp felt the challenger should have won on a tko in the third round.

Returning to South Africa for another fight — on 5 October 1976 — Galindez enhanced his reputation when he once again proved his strength and versatility by beating off the challenge of the brave South African Kosie Smith. He won on a wide points margin over 15 rounds before 15 000 fans at the Rand Stadium.

Smith, after lunging and missing in the opening rounds, managed to get on the inside in the fourth round and landed a left hook to the champion’s chin.

Galindez was dazed, but Smith lost the opportunity as, for more than two minutes, he threw more than 100 punches in an effort to land the knockout. He succeeded only in punching himself out. The champion recovered and completely outboxed Smith to win comfortably.

Galindez made another four defences of his WBA light heavyweight title before losing the championship to Mike Rossman on a 13th round stoppage. He regained the title from Rossman but then lost it to Marvin Johnson on an 11th round technical knockout in November 1979.

He also amassed a 52-9-4 amateur record and represented Argentina at the 1968 Olympic Games before he turned pro in 1969.

Galindez died tragically only seven days before his 32nd birthday when, in De Mayo, Argentina, he took part in a motor car race. His vehicle stalled and he was walking back to the pits when he was hit by another car.