Kid Chocolate, champion of fists and heart

Kid Chocolate, champion of fists and heart


Alejandro Rodríguez Ruiz

Among the great champions of Cuban and American sports of all time is boxer Eligio Sardiñas Montalvo, known, and still remembered today, as Kid Chocolate, with great strength in his fists, and also in his heart.

He was born on October 28, 1910 in Havana, into a very humble family from the Cerro neighborhood, and worked in trades such as shoeshine and newspaper salesman, but managed to become one of the ten best featherweights in boxing history.

He was fond of baseball – as true Cuban – but opted for the discipline of the fists, and made his debut in his country at the age of 12, in a tournament sponsored by newspaper La Noche.

In 1928 he traveled to the United States, known as a ring artist, for the way he acted in the ring, with feints, fast jabs, great leg speed and great strength. He was crowned World Champion in 1931 and 1932, and simultaneously held the international belts of professional boxing in the junior lightweight and bantamweight divisions.

During his boxing career, from 1929 to 1939, Chocolate achieved 136 victories; of them 51 by KO, compared to only 10 losses, as well as six draws. Later, without the fortune that he earned with his fights, he dedicated himself to coaching.

Chroniclers also remember him helping the needy and always distributing money among the children who followed his car. On one occasion he told an interlocutor: "I, who with my money distributed joys, I feel like a millionaire and sleep soundly, because I still enjoy the greatest of all treasures: the warmth of my people." I am boxing, Kid Chocolate used to say. He has a statue in one of the entrances to Madison Square Garden, in New York, and his name is in the International Hall of Fame of that sport.

Victim of the aftermath of syphilis, Eligio Sardiñas Montalvo died on August 8, 1988 in Havana, Cuba, where he is admired as a glory of the national sport and is recognized as the antecedent of the current Cuban Boxing School, which has marked relevant performances in the international arena.