Kid Chocolate January 6, 1910 – 1988
He was born Eligio Sardinias Montalbo on January 6, 1910 in Cerro, Havana, Cuba.
His professional boxing debut, officially, occurred on December 8, 1927, when he beat Johnny Cruz in six in Havana. Whether that was his actual debut or not has been a point of contention, because some Cuban boxing historians claim that he was actually paid for 21 bouts before that, supposedly winning each of them by knockout, which would put him on Ring Magazine’s list of longest knockout streaks in history. But documents show the Cruz fight as being his first professional bout.
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 the St. Nicolas 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 out-classed by Fidel LaBarbra. Kid Chocolate is then 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 worlds junior lightweightchampion. 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 Johhny Farr. On July 18, 1932 Kid Chocolate would meet Kid Berg in areturn 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 he was blasted out in the second round by Tony Canzoneri. 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.
Chocolate was known as a wild party man during his years as a world champion. He was a boxer who enjoyed being out at night and engaging himself under the bright lights of the city’s nightlife. However, when he stepped out of boxing in 1938, he went back to Cuba and lived a quieter life.
In 1959, Chocolate’s figure in Cuba was totally relegated by Fidel Castro and his revolutionary forces, and he almost became a forgotten champion, but by the late 1970s, Chocolate’s achievements were finally recognized by the Cuban government, who then put him to live in a state backed house, as had occurred with other important Cuba athletic figures. It was in that house that Chocolate died in 1988.
His record was of 136 wins, 10 losses and 6 draws, 51 wins coming by knockout, also making Ring magazine’s list of boxers with 50 or more career knockout wins. He became a member of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame alongside Bass, Berg and Canzoneri.
He was the inspiration for the character Choclolate Drop in Clifford Odets’ play Golden Boy