On a summer evening in 1935 some fifteen thousand boxing fans gathered under the floodlights of the Dyckman Oval to witness Puerto Rican Sixto Escobar and Coney Island kid Lou Salica battle for the world bantamweight championship title. The two fighters, at the peak of their careers, each weighed 117-½ pounds—one half pound less than the 118-pound bantamweight limit.
The fifteen-round bout was described by one sportswriter as one “of the most savagely fought battles ever staged by little men in the New York area.” (Pittsburgh Post Gazette August 27, 1935)
The judge’s verdict, amid hisses and boos, would become one of the most contested decisions in the history of the Oval.
Sixto Escobar, nicknamed “El Gallito” (The Rooster), was born in Barceloneta, on the northern coast of Puerto Rico, in 1913. Escobar was seventeen when he fought his first professional bout in 1931—defeating Luis “Kid Dominican” Pérez with a knockout.
The teenager would spend the early part of his fighting career in Venezuela due to a lack of talented opponents at home. After honing his skills in Caracas he moved to New York.
On August 8, 1935 he met Pete Sanstol in a twelve round National Boxing Association World Bantamweight Championship fight in Montreal.
The epic battle secured Sixto’s place in boxing history.