Jump to content

Forgotten Warriors: Fulgencio "Fully Obel" Obelmejias


Recommended Posts

One of Venezuela's best boxers of the 80's, Fulgencio Obelmejias, also known as Fully Obel, was a middleweight contender and later a super middleweight WBA champion. He was a puncher and a come forward fighter, standing almost 6'1 and with a magnificent physique. He is remembered for taking on Marvelous Marvin Hagler for the WBC and WBA mw titles in 1981 and 1982, both times losing by TKO. He had a 15-year long career and only retired because the Venezuelan law required him to do so, at the age of 40.


Born 1 January 1953 in San Jose de Rio Chico, Venezuela, Obelmejias was unsuccessful as amateur, as he was eliminated in the first round in both the 1975 Pan American Games and the 1976 Olympics. He started his pro career 30 January 1977, winning by first-round TKO against Franklin Suzarra, whom he defeated in the second fight by TKO in the second round. He won the WBC Fecarbox middleweight title by stopping Carlos Marks by TKO 9 in Culiacan, Mexico, 17 December 1978. He defended it once by KO 2 against Luis Arias in Caracas, Venezuela. His first noted victory was over the former light middleweight WBC champion Elisha Obed, who was 79-9-4 at the time they fought, 3 March 1980. Obelmejias won easily by TKO 3 against a faded former champion from Bahamas. After also stopping American fringe contenders Fred Johnson, Leroy Green and James Waire, he was 30-0 with 28 ko's and ready to challenge the reigning world champion Marvin Hagler. The fight happened on 17 January 1981 at the Boston Garden. Obel had a significant height advantage of almost 4 inches but interestingly, Hagler had a 3-inch reach advantage and was simply the superior fighter. The tall and lanky challenger kept on coming but absorbed a lot of punishment and hurt his right hand in round 2 after landing a glancing blow to the top of Hagler's bald, hard head. There was a crowd of about 10, 000 Venezuelans present but it didn't help their favorite, as he was slowly but steadily worn and "chopped" down by Hagler and finally stopped early in the 8th round, after being down in the 6th and hurt and staggered in the 7th. Afterwards, through a translator, Obel said that he wanted another a chance to show who he really is. Hagler said:"What do they call him? Fully Obel? I don't know what was keeping him up." He was said to suffer from a cold also and his wife Mabel stated he hadn't slept much the previous night, because he was aware how important the fight was to Venezuelans.


He went back on track by scoring 8 knockouts, among them a KO2 against former WBA light middle champion Eddie Gazo and even more significantly, a KO 8 against the future WBA and IBF super middle champion Chong Pal Park. It was a wild back and forth slugfest before Fully knocked Park out with a series of hard blows. Park only had one loss before that. He then got the chance he wanted, a rematch with Hagler, which took place in San Remo, Italy this time, 30 October 1982. But Obel made a mistake by grinning at Hagler at the weigh-in and repeatedly saying "El campeon, el campeon. I fix Hagler, I fix." As Hagler was leaving with his trainer Pat Petronelli, Petronelli said:"He's a punk." Hagler replied:"That's how I like 'em. I'm gonna hurt him, Pat." Fully won the first 2 rounds this time as Hagler opened passively. In the third, Hagler picked up the tempo and took the fight to the challenger, while Obelmejias kept trying to catch him with uppercuts. But Hagler and his trainer had prepared well for that and Hagler was good in avoiding the uppercuts. In the fifth, Hagler intensified the pressure and started tagging the taller man, before he caught him with a big right hook which sent Obel crumpling to the canvas. He rolled on his back and tried to get up, but couldn't. The fight was over at 2:35 of round 5 and with it Obelmejias' attempt to become a world middleweight champion.


He did something remarkable after that by beating the light heavyweight Jeff Lampkin while weighing in at just over 160 and Lampkin weighing in at 176. Obelmejias won by an 8-round decision and then scored another one against Jerry Celestine, former light heavyweight world title challenger. Like the last time he lost to Hagler, he went 8-0 before again losing on points in 8 rounds to underdog Clarence Osby, back then 12-5. On 30 May 1986, he won the WBA Fedelatin lhw title by a 12-round decision against Tomas Polo Ruiz, but lost it in his first defense to future WBA champion Leslie Stewart by TKO4, on 16 November. Next year, he stopped the 17-0-1 Chris Reid by TKO10 and then finally, he got another world title shot, this time as a super middleweight, against his old foe Chong Pal Park, who now held the WBA belt. The fight was in South Korea, 23 May 1988, but Fully Obel would not be denied this time, as he put Park down three times and eventually won by UD12 with the scores of 114-110, 115-110 and 117-109. However, he was away from the ring for a year before he made his first defense against another top fighter from South Korea:the hard-hitting In-Chul Baek. It was 28 May 1989 in Yeosu, South Korea, when Obelmejias was stopped by TKO11 and relieved of his title. He retired but came back after 2 years and had 3 more fights, before the Venezuelan law made his retirement imminent, as Obel reached the age of 40. He left behind a record of 52 wins with 41 ko's and 5 losses.


He is one of the few Venezuelan fighters who've won a world title above middleweight. Only Vicente Rondon, who came from the same town, won a world title at a higher weight, light heavyweight. Fully Obel was a popular never say die fighter but it took him too long to reach the top, partly because he fought too long at middleweight, where Hagler ruled with the iron hand.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...