Sixto Escobar (March 23, 1913 – November 17, 1979) was a Puerto Rican professional boxer. Competing in the bantamweight division, he became Puerto Rico's first world champion. Escobar was born in Barceloneta and raised in San Juan. There he received his primary education and took interest in boxing. After gathering a record of 21-1-1 as an amateur, Escobar debuted as a professional in 1931 defeating Luis "Kid Dominican" Pérez by knockout. Early in his career, he moved to Venezuela due to the lack of opponents in his division. There he received an opportunity for the Venezuelan Bantamweight championship, but lost by points. Subsequently he moved to New York and began boxing in other states, eventually capturing the Montreal Athletic Commission World Bantamweight Title. In 1936, he defeated Tony Marino to unify this championship with the one recognized by the International Boxing Union, in the process becoming the third Latin American undisputed world boxing champion. After retiring, he worked as a spokesperson for beer companies in New York, before returning to Puerto Rico in the 1960s, where he resided until his death. He received several posthumous recognitions and his name was used in several sports venues and buildings. In 2002, Escobar was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Early Life and amateur career
Escobar was born in Barrio Palmas Altas, a sector of Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, to Jacinto Escobar and Adela Vargas. Early in his life, he moved to Tras Talleres in Santurce, a subsection of San Juan, Puerto Rico. There he received his elementary and secondary education, up until the eighth grade, when he decided to dedicate himself full-time to his sports career. In Tras Talleres, he began developing an interest in boxing and received instruction in said discipline. Although at this time, boxing was illegal in Puerto Rico; remote places such as a house’s backyard or rooftops were used to organize clandestine fights without attracting attention from the local police. In 1928, a Puerto Rican boxer named Ángel "Sotito" Soto moved from New York to a house near the Escobar family’s residence and established a gym in his backyard. There he gave boxing classes to Escobar and several other young athletes. After several months of instruction, Soto prepared a boxing card with included three-round fights, in which each round lasted two minutes. In this event, Escobar earned his first victory, defeating a pugilist identified as "Gombar" by knockout in the first round. After this match, Escobar continued fighting in clandestine gyms. He met and was received by Ignacio Peñagaricano, the owner of Victoria Gym. Escobar received his boxing license through Peñagaricano. On February 16, 1927, governor Horace Mann Towner legalized boxing and allowed the establishment of organized boxing matches. Professionals would fight Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays which, were considered the best days of the week, while amateurs could compete the remaining days of the week without limitations. As an amateur, he fought in 23 combats, gathering a record of 21 wins, one loss and a draw. His draw was against Ramón Rodríguez of San Lorenzo and his only loss was in the hands of Pedro Montañez from Cayey, in a fight that took place in March 1930.
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