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Conmemorating the memory of Panama Al Brown: the first great Panamanian champion

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Conmemorating the memory of Panama Al Brown: the first great Panamanian champion


Regarding the presentation of a documentary based on his life at the International Film Festival of Panama, it is opportune to review who Alfonso Teófilo Brown was and what he represented for boxing in Panama.

Panama Al Brown, as he was also known, was an African American fighter born in the city of Colón on July 5, 1902, and who sought his future in New York, where he traveled in 1923 at 21 years of age. Al Brown, boxing’s first Latino champion, he was a long, lean bantamweight who moved gracefully and punched forcefully. Lines born from a hardscrabble upbringing in the canal-hard streets of Colon as a boy, then solidified in the concrete-hard streets of Harlem as a young man.

Stowing away on a ship, peeling potatoes to insure he wasn’t thrown overboard, Al Brown came to Manhattan in search of his ring idol “Kid Norfolk,” the uncrowned Panamanian heavyweight champion who’d moved to New York to seek big boxing money. Brown’s arrival became a stint of rough days and homeless nights, but he finally found Norfolk as well as a gym he’d call home, Grupp’s Gymnasium and Athletic Club on West 116th Street. Once settled, Al Brown seemed poised for a meteoric rise in the bantamweight rankings. Physically, Brown was so dauntingly tall for a 118-pounder (114 in his first fight), manager Leo Flynn told him to take it easy during his first professional bout, afraid a quick knockout would make it impossible for Flynn to secure future fights. The young Panamanian listened, stayed on his leash, and fought to a draw. Then the leash was removed and knockouts ensued.

After moving up in the world of boxing, Brown became the first Panamanian and the first Latin American to win a world title, winning against the Spaniard Vidal Gregorio by split decision in Long Island, in a valid bantamweight match.

His great achievement was to win a world title at a time when there was only one organization that governed boxing and where you had to travel to the United States or Europe to have the option to become champion.

Moreover, he was able to retain the belt for the next six years in fights fought in New York, Paris, Montreal, Marseille, Toronto, Milan, London and Tunisia.

Brown, who had no formal studies, mastered several languages, played several musical instruments, sang and danced, and learned art, which allowed him to establish relationships with the intellectuals of Paris in the 20s and 30s.

The Panamanian lost the title on June 1, 1935, by split decision against Baltazar Sangchilli in Valencia, Spain, which led him to seriously think about the possibility of retiring, which would become reality in 1942, with a record of 135 wins, 19 losses and 13 draws.

Panama Al Brown died penniless in New York on April 11, 1951, and his name and deeds were forgotten for many years

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$9 Million in Stadium Construction

The Panamanian Sports Institute tenders the study, design, plan approval, partial demolition, remodeling and construction of the Teófilo Panama Al Brown Arena.

Tuesday, March 10, 202

Panama Government Purchase 2020-1-35-0-03-LV-007894:

"The project includes the study, design, approval of plans and construction of the new Teofilo 'Panama' Al Brown Multifunctional Arena, which will consist of a concrete structure with a metal deck or any other construction system that will provide a multifunctional space for sports events (basketball, volleyball, boxing, etc.) and cultural events.

The Arena must have a capacity of stands to accommodate at least 2,000 people. All seats with folding type armchairs. Ventilation should be natural and should include comfortable accessibility to open and close windows; and air conditioning for administrative areas.

Architectural lighting and LED-type sporting events are foreseen, not special lights such as fans and concert accents. The use of natural light during the day is foreseen with skylights on the roof at 20% of the roof surface, according to design."

Reference value: $8,490,864.

Deadline for receipt of bids: April 22, 2020.

See tender (in Spanish).

Source: CentralAmericaData.COM



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