No More Feather Dusters
Carlos Baldomir is living the American dream. He’s on top of the welterweight world awaiting the biggest payday of his life against the greatest fighter in the sport. Not bad for a man who pedaled feather dusters on the streets of Sante Fe, Argentina in order to scrape by a meager living to support his family. Boxing was an afterthought for Baldomir throughout his early career because the money he made in the ring paled in comparison to what he could make selling feather dusters just as his father had done.
Don’t be fooled by the nine losses on Baldomir’s record as Zab Judah was on that shocking night at the Garden when the veteran from Sante Fe who’d peddled feather dusters all his life finally made it and could finally put down those nice-looking feathers on a stick once and for all.
Boxing historian Bert Sugar, in typical style, quipped, “For all we know Baldomir was in the witness protection program and just surfaced.”
The reason nobody had ever heard of Carlos Baldomir is because he was spending more time on the streets selling those feather dusters than in the gym training for his fights. His only benefit as a street salesman was the exercise it gave him. The two to three miles he walked every day served as his means for staying in shape. He couldn’t afford to devote himself totally to the gym because doing that meant risking the slim chance at boxing fame and fortune for his family’s wellbeing. It was too big a risk to take and so Baldomir kept on selling his product around Sante Fe. A smart businessman, “Tata,” as his now beloved Argentinean fans call him, took every opportunity to sell his feather dusters and that included the local venues that he fought in.
These were desperate times for Baldomir. Having to roam the streets all day and then climb into the ring seems like a Herculean task and it will forever show on Baldomir’s record. Still, it reminds him of how far he’s come, how the seemingly impossible has become reality as he readies himself to clash with the pound-for-pound best in Mayweather, who’s steeped in boxing royalty and comes from the other side of the tracks and then some in terms of his career. The fact that Mayweather was groomed to be champion from the moment he could put on gloves only magnetizes the Cinderella-like qualities of Baldomir’ story, making for such an intriguing matchup.
Despite the great odds against him once again, Baldomir is confident that he will emerge victorious, and if his prediction does in fact come true it would make his upset over Judah look like a tiny blip on boxing’s radar.
There’s no doubting Baldomir’s heart and determination. He says it all comes from years of slaving away on the streets of Sante Fe, years of poverty and sadness in having to look into the eyes of his hungry children who only got to eat meat once a week. There were the many times that the power in his house was cut off and he’d have to find a way to make enough money to restore it.
Was Nietzsche forecasting Carlos Baldomir’s mantra when he said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” The man has endured a difficult life and he brings those bleak memories with him whenever he steps into the ring. He refuses to lose and hasn’t done so in eight years. He remembers the streets of Sante Fe and his reliable feather dusters all too well and will therefore put everything on the line to make sure he never wakes up from this remarkable dream.
Mayweather may hurt Baldomir at times when they square off Saturday night in Las Vegas, but hurting him is surely not going to stop him from coming forward with his relentless aggression. It’s going to take more than that from Mayweather. Just ask Zab Judah. He nailed Baldomir and hurt him, but the Argentinean shrugged it off, hesitating only briefly and then continuing his determined assault. As Baldomir explained, “He hit me with a great shot but all I had to do was think of my wife and kids and their faces and all the pain went away.”
This is the type of mentality Floyd Mayweather will soon be dealing with. A man on a mission who’s made a believer out of us all, who’s defied the greatest of odds to become out present day Cinderella Man. He’s soared to new heights that have left us all gasping in astonishment and that I doubt he even believed were possible. Taking him on is no easy task, not even for the pound-for-pound king. As HBO analyst Max Kellerman warned, “Floyd has yet to be in with a big, strong, rugged welterweight.”
Let’s also not forget that Baldomir has a chin worthy of any age-old welterweight champion as he’s showed in his last two fights.
“You could hit him in the head with a sledgehammer and you’re not going to hurt him,” an impressed Jim Lampley said after watching him beat both Judah and Gatti.
A new life was born for Carlos Baldomir when his decision victory over Zab Judah was broadcast and heard in Sante Fe, Argentina. Forever the town that Monzon built, Baldomir had been just a shadow at best in trying to make it as a professional fighter.
One of boxing’s unique beauties is the dramatic effect that a victory can have for an underdog given one chance at glory. Baldomir was that underdog who got his one chance and struck gold. That night far away from the New York skyline there was a frenzied celebration inside the modest Baldomir home in Sante Fe. With his wife in tears, a family member in the background jumped up-and-down with hysterical joy waving one of Baldomir’s feather dusters and pointing to it, yelling out “No More” over and over again.
As Baldomir prepared for his fight with Mayweather, he said, “The only thing I know how to do well is boxing. I really love challenged and I’m motivated for this fight.” He, of course, was being modest as usual in neglecting to mention his talent for feather dusters, but then again, that trying chapter in his life is likely forever closed and deservededly so.