In 1922 flyweight boxer Francisco Guilledo won the American Championship over Johnny Buff in Brooklyn. The knockout victory was favorably covered by the New York Times. By the summer of 1923 Guilledo became the World Champion after defeating Welsh fighter Jimmy Wilde. Guilledo was also known by his boxing name “Pancho Villa”. He is considered the first World Champion out of Asia. Throughout the 1920’s Pancho Villa’s boxing career took him through places like Australia, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, and of course Manila.
Back then the Philippines was a U.S. Territory, and Filipinos were considered American Nationals. There was a steady flow of commerce and interaction across the Pacific. One aspect of sports history was that the “sweet science” was brought over from the Seattle area by Eddie Tait of Tacoma to the Philippines. So Filipino boxing has its origins from the Pacific Northwest. Although Tait and his partners have been characterized as proto-Don Kings or profiteers, without them Filipino boxing may have come later. From Greater Seattle: “You’re welcome Manny Pacquiao.”
Francisco “Pancho Villa” Guillerdo is now part of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
by Devin Cabanilla