Jose "Chequi" TorresJose  Tor­res (May 3, 1936 ( Jan­u­ary 19, 2009),  known as “Chegui”,  was a Puer­to Rican pro­fes­sion­al box­er.   As an ama­teur box­er, Tor­res won a sil­ver medal in the junior mid­dleweight at the 1956 Olympic games in Mel­bourne. In 1965, he defeat­ed Willie Pas­tra­no to win the WBC and WBA Light heavy­weight cham­pi­onships. In 1997, he was induct­ed into the Inter­na­tion­al Box­ing Hall of Fame.

Amateur career

Born in the city of Ponce, Puer­to Rico, Tor­res began fight­ing when he joined the U.S. Army as a teenag­er (he was 18 years old). His only ama­teur titles had come in Army and Inter-Ser­vice cham­pi­onships,  sev­er­al of which he had won.   Tor­res was still in the Army when he won the Sil­ver Medal in the light mid­dleweight divi­sion at the 1956 Mel­bourne Olympic Games,  where he lost to Las­z­lo Papp of Hun­gry in the final.

Tor­res trained at the Empire Sport­ing Club in New York City.   He was the 1958 Nation­al AAU Mid­dleweight Cham­pi­on and also won the 1958 New York Gold­en Gloves 160lb Open Cham­pi­onship.

AP | Jose Torres gets over hard right to head of Gomeo Brennan at Miami Beach in 1964.

AP | Jose Tor­res gets over hard right to head of Gomeo Bren­nan at Mia­mi Beach in 1964.

Professional career

He debuted as a pro­fes­sion­al in 1958 with a first round knock­out of George Hamil­ton in New York. Twelve wins in a row fol­lowed,  ten of them by knock­out (includ­ing wins over con­tenders Ike Jenk­ins and Al Andrews),  after which he was able to make his San Juan debut against Ben­ny Paret, a world wel­ter­weight and Mid­dleweight cham­pi­on whose death after a fight would lat­er on become one of the turn­ing points in the his­to­ry of box­ing. Tor­res and Paret fought to a ten round draw, and in 1960,Torres went back to cam­paign­ing in New York, where he scored three wins that year, all by deci­sion, includ­ing two over Randy Sandy.

In 1961, Tor­res made his home­town debut with a four round knock­out win in a rematch with Hamil­ton at Ponce.   He made six more fights that year,  win­ning all of them by knock­out.

1962 came by and Tor­res kept his knock­out streak alive with three more knock­out wins,  but in 1963,  he suf­fered his first loss,  being stopped in five by Cuba  Flo­renti­no Fer­nan­dez,  the only box­er ever to beat Tor­res by a knock­out as a pro­fes­sion­al.   After that set­back, Tor­res went back to train­ing and had one more fight that year, and that time around, he was able to beat anoth­er top con­tender in Don Fullmer, Gene Fullmer’s broth­er, with a ten round deci­sion win in New Jer­sey.

In 1964, Tor­res beat a group of box­ers, includ­ing Jose Gon­za­lez, Walk­er sim­mons (twice), Frankie Oliv­era, Gomeo Bren­nan and for­mer world Mid­dleweight cham­pi­on Carl Olson (Bobo), tak­en out in one round.   After this, Tor­res was ranked num­ber 1 among Light Heavy­weight chal­lengers, and his title shot would arrive soon.

In 1965, it final­ly did. Met at Madi­son Square Gar­den with fel­low Inter­na­tion­al Box­ing Hall of Fame mem­ber and then world Light Heavy­weight cham­pi­on Willie Pas­tra­no, Tor­res became the third Puer­to Rican world box­ing cham­pi­on in his­to­ry and first Latin Amer­i­can to win the Light Heavy­weight title, knock­ing Pas­tra­no out in round nine.

In 1966, he suc­cess­ful­ly defend­ed his crown three times, with 15 round deci­sions over Wayne Thorn­ton and Eddie Cot­ton and a two round knock­out of Chic Calder­wood. In his next defense, how­ev­er, he would lose it to anoth­er Hall Of Fame mem­ber, Nigeria’s Dick Tiger, by a deci­sion in 15 rounds.

In 1967, he and Tiger had a rematch, and Tor­res lost a 15 round deci­sion again. Many fans thought he should have won it that time, and as a con­se­quence, a large scale riot fol­lowed the fight, with many New York City police­men called to the Gar­den are­na to try to calm down the fans.

After his sec­ond defeat to Tiger, Tor­res only fought twice more, retir­ing after 1969.

Retirement and death

In his years after retir­ing from box­ing, he became a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Puer­to Rican com­mu­ni­ty in New York, meet­ing polit­i­cal lead­ers, giv­ing lec­tures and becom­ing the New York State Ath­let­ic Commission’s Com­mis­sion­er from 1984 to 1988.    In 1986, he was cho­sen to sing the Unit­ed States Nation­al Anthem before the world Light­weight cham­pi­onship bout between Jim­my Paul and Irleis Perez in Atlantic City,  New Jer­sey,  and in 1987,  he authored “Fire and Fear” a book about Tyson.   In 1990 he became Pres­i­dent of the WBO,  and he was Pres­i­dent until 1995.

He was also a mem­ber of the Inter­na­tion­al Box­ing Hall of Fame,  and reg­u­lar­ly con­tributed a col­umn for El Diario La Pren­sa,  a Span­ish lan­guage news­pa­per in New York City.    He also wrote for The Vil­lage Voice.   He authored Sting Like a Bee,  a biog­ra­phy of Muham­mad Ali.    In 2007, Tor­res announced his deci­sion to move back to his home­town of Ponce,  Puer­to Rico and con­cen­trate on writ­ing books and arti­cles relat­ed to sports and his­to­ry.   On August 6, 2008, Tor­res received recog­ni­tion for his mil­i­tary career. Tor­res died in the morn­ing of Jan­u­ary 19, 2009, of a heart attack at his home in Ponce,  Puer­to Rico.