Uruguayan boxer Dogomar Martinez passed away on February 7th at the age of 86. Martinez participated in the 1948 Olympic games in London, and he went on to a professional career that spanned nearly 10 years. Martinez, who retired with a record of 49-3-5, expired after being hospitalized for several days.
In Uruguay, Martinez is remembered as one of the protagonists in the most famous fight of that country´s history.
The fight was on September 12th, 1953 and the location was in neighboring Argentina´s famous Luna Park Arena in the capital of Buenos Aires. If Uruguay was not necessarily known as a boxing hotbed, Argentina certainly was.
The opponent for Martinez was an American by the name of Archie Moore, a fighter who had not yet gone on to win world titles but was already well on his way to becoming a legend.
Born June 30, 1929, “Bulldog” Martinez started boxing at the age of 12. Within three years, he won the national title as an amateur. The following two years saw him establish himself as a top amateur, winning several regional tournaments. Overall, Martinez was champion in 18 amateur competitions: 3 novices, 4 Montevideo, 3 National, 4 Rioplatenses and 4 Latin American.
How big was the fight with Archie Moore? In terms of local politics, the borders between Uruguay and Argentina had been closed because of tensions between the two countries, but the borders were opened for the fight. This enabled a stream of Uruguayan supporters to join the mass of people at the “estadio” Luna Park. That night in September of 1953, more than 30,000 spectators, including Argentinian dictator Juan Domingo Peron, witnessed the fight between the two men. Martinez appeared to defy fate, and he became a national hero right there as Peron watched from his luxury box.
Before the fight, the prediction was generally that Martinez would be pulverized by Moore.
Martinez had to gain weight for his fight with Moore. Martinez was smaller, and the educated Argentinian public knew Moore well. Moore had fought there less than a month prior, adding another knock out to his record. Two years earlier, Moore had done a tour that saw him fight eight times over a two month period in Argentina, going 7-0-1 with seven knock outs.
However, “El Gallego” Martinez held up for the full ten rounds. Although he lost, his efforts were cheered wildly by the 30,000 in attendance.
Martinez hit the canvas twice, but willpower and an ability to absorb a punch made him get up. One account of his efforts describe him as a pristine example of Uruguayans: he was handsome but rebellious, courageous and with an artistic flair. That night in Buenos Aires back in 1953, respect was earned.
Martinez's fights in Uruguay were almost all in the old basketball court located at the Centennial Olympic Stadium and the audience was usually standing room only.
Martinez was blessed with good athleticism and he took care of his diet and conditioning in a professional manner. In that way, he was ahead of his time. He was lauded more for his technique than his knock out power. Before each match, “The Bulldog” secluded himself on his farm for one or two months to concentrate on the task at hand.
Martinez is also remembered in his country for his trio of fights with Brazil’s Luiz Ignacio, known as “Luisao” for the South American title that came at the close of his career. One of the fights with “Luisao” saw the gate exceed that of a “classic” soccer match that was played a few days earlier.
Back in 1993, Martinez was reunited with Archie Moore in Montevideo to remember their fight on the 40th anniversary.
Martinez remained out of the public eye most of his life after boxing, but he was awarded the “Illustrious Citizen of Montevideo” recognition in 2008, and in 2011 he was made an honorary President of the Uruguayan Boxing Federation.
Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez expressed his deep sorrow for the loss of the famous boxer, describing him as an “an example for the national sport.”
Gone, but not forgotten, Dogomar Martinez.