By Jim Amato

He was born Eligio Sardinias Montalvo on January 6, 1910 in Cerro, Havana, Cuba.  He launched his professional boxing career in 1927 and would participate in over  150 bouts in a career that ended in 1938.
He was nicknamed the ” Cuban Bon Bon ” and during the 1930′s he was one of  the best drawing cards in New York. His flashy personality and even flashier  style in the ring made him a real crowd pleaser. After racking up a series of victories in his native Cuba, ” The Kid ” invaded the US in 1928 knocking out Eddie Enos in three rounds in Mineola,  N.Y. He would go on to fight at all the popular New York spots like Ridgewood  Grove and  St. Nick’s Arena.

On November  30, 1928 at Madison Square Garden the Kid drew with rugged Joey Scalfaro. In  1929 he beat Bushy Graham and Vic Burrone. Then on May 22, 1929 the Kid  outscored the great Fidel LaBarba. Kid Chocolate  continued to win fights and among his victims were Gregorio Vidal, Al Singer and  Dominick Petrone.

 

The year  1930 saw the Kid enter the ring for a match with Jackie ” Kid ” Berg. The  energetic and quick Chocolate was hard pressed to last against his aggressive  adversary. Berg won a split decision. Three fights later the Kid was outhustled  by Fidel LaBarbra.  So what happens? Kid Chocolate  is matched with Batttling Battalino for the featherweight title. On December 12,  1930 at Madison Square Garden, Battalino got the verdict  in a bout that many felt could have gone to Kid Chocolate.

 

Finally on  July 15, 1931 the Kid finally won a world title. At Baker Field in Philadelphia  the Kid halted the rugged Benny Bass in seven rounds to win recognition as the  world’s junior lightweight champion. In November he moved up in weight to take on the lightweight champion Tony Canzoneri. It  was a great fight witnessed by over 19,000 fans at Madison Square Garden. This time the Kid came up  on the short end of a split decision.

 

Chocolate would win nine straight after his setback to Canzoneri against some  tough guys like Davey Abed, Lew Feldman and Johnny Farr. On July 18, 1932 Kid  Chocolate would meet Kid Berg in a return match. Again Berg was able to pull off  a close decision at the Garden. The Kid again put together an impressive win streak including a fifteen round  win over Fidel LaBarba that gained him the New York State Athletic Commission  featherweight title. On November 24, 1933 Kid Chocolate suffered a severe career setback when Tony  Canzoneri blasted him out in the second round. One month later the Kid lost his  junior lightweight title to Frankie Klick. His career was on the decline but he was still winning more then he lost.  There was a draw with tough Tommy Paul in 1934. Later that year he was clearly  outpointed by Petey Hayes. In 1935 he lost a decision in Caracas, Venezuela to  Simon Chavez. In December of 1936 the Kid would drop a points call to Phil Baker.He would  then win over twenty fights through 1938. He was held to a draw by Bernie  Friedkin and Orville Drouillard but managed a degree of vengeance when he was  awarded a well-deserved decision over Phil Baker in Cuba in 1938. After 1938 the ever-popular Kid Chocolate retired.

He had met some of the  best of his day. He was ” Mantequilla ” which means ” Smooth as butter ” long before the great Jose Napoles was given that nickname. In comparing Kid Chocolate’s style to more contemporary boxers, I would say  the smooth boxing Ismael Laguna and the extremely clever Wilfred Benitez fit the  bill. Kid Chocolate was grace personified. He was surely in a class by himself.

Jim Amato

Filed under: Boxing


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