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Juan Albornoz-The Boxing Shadow

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His boxing nickname was “Sombrita”(Shadow), because of a large dark birthmark that covered a large part of his face. Juan Albornoz was the best boxer to come from Canary Islands and he won the national title in three different weight classes: lightweight, light welterweight and welterweight. He also won the professional European championship as a light welterweight. He was known for his skill and elegance and movement.

Born Juan Cesareo Albornoz Hernandez in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, only the year 1932 is given of his birthdate. He became amateur boxer in 1950 and in 1959, he won the bronze medal at the Mediterranean Games in Beirut. He chose to turn professional in November that year, winning the Canarian lightweight title in his very first fight. He went 12-0 before being upset for the first time by 115-16-13 Fred Galiana, who knocked him out in round 9, 25 December 1960. In 1962, he was also knocked out twice by Valerio Nunez, in 8 and 9 rounds respectively. He then won fifteen fights and drew three, before losing to Jose Cabrera by TKO8 after a bad clash of heads cut him and he refused to continue. He however beat Cabrera in the rematch on points and thus won the Spanish light welterweight title. That was on 7 March 1964. 

He defended the title twice, both times winning uncharacteristically by knockout, before vacating it to step up and challenge for the European title. That he did on 17 July ‘65 against famous Italian Sandro Lopopolo and became a national hero by winning on points after 15 rounds, in front of home crowd in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. He lost the title in his first defense to German Willy Quatuor, fighting In Germany on 26 December same year, on points. He moved up to welterweight and won the Spanish title there by KO12 against Carmelo Garcia, 24 December 1966 in Las Palmas. However, he soon opted to go back down to light welterweight and vacated the title, instead recapturing the Spanish belt against Antonio Ortiz after stopping him by a TKO9, 22 April 1967. He then challenged the European champion, Johann Orsolics of Austria, and fought him in Vienna on 12 September. After a competitive fight, Albornoz was knocked out in round 11, suffering his sixth loss. They had a rematch on 5 December, again in Vienna, and this time fought to a draw. 

In one of his last triumphs, he managed to beat the 21-0 Domingo Barrera, the other best Spanish fighter in the division at the time, by decision, 15 June ‘68 in his hometown. He also beat the solid German Conny Rudhof right after that and English Pat Dwyer on Wembley, both on points. On 13 August ‘69, he fought the future WBC champion Bruno Arcari for the European title in San Remo, Italy, and was knocked out in 6 rounds by the younger and world class Arcari. This would prove to be a turning point in his career. He retired for 3 years before coming back in 1973. After winning 3 fights, he fought the young lionnPerico Fernandez on 16 March ‘74 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and got stopped by TKO6. He retired for good after that, aged 42. His record is 79 wins, 20 by ko, with 8 losses and 5 draws. 

In 1965, after becoming the European champion, he was named the Spanish fighter of the year by the ESPABOX magazine, their equivalent of The Ring. Juan Albornoz died on 17 January 1993, aged 60. He was special as the only boxer with a disfigurement to become relatively famous and successful. Because of that, I thought he deserved a thread of his own. He was very respected for his boxing skills and remains the boxing hero of Tenerife and Canary Islands. Here is a quote I found about him on a fansite: “He was a natural athlete who boxed on the tips of his shoes. He amazed all the fans with his artistry in the ring because of his exquisite technique, skill and style. He stood out for his defense and elegance, chivalry and nobility.” 


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