Esteban de Jesús

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Esteban de Jesús
Statistics
Real name Esteban de Jesús
Nickname(s) Vita
Rated at lightweight
Height 1.64 m (5 ft 4 12 in)
Reach 170 cm (67 in)
Nationality Puerto Rican
Born (1951-08-02)August 2, 1951
Carolina, Puerto Rico
Died May 12, 1989(1989-05-12) (aged 37)
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 63
Wins 58
Wins by KO 33
Losses 5
Draws 0
No contests 0

Esteban de Jesús (August 2, 1951 – May 11, 1989) was a Puerto Rican world lightweight champion boxer whose life was full of controversy, problems and scandals. De Jesús, a native of the town of Carolina, Puerto Rico, was a gymmate of Wilfred Benítez and an acquaintance of Benitez's mother, Clara Benítez. He was trained by Wilfredo's father and Clara's husband, Gregorio Benitez. He was the first boxer to defeat Roberto Durán as a pro.

Professional career[edit]

De Jesús debuted as a professional in 1969, beating El Tarita by a knockout in round three in San Juan. He won his first twenty fights, thirteen by knockout and then stepped up in class, for the first time, when he boxed future world title challenger Josue Marquez in 1971, beating him in a ten round decision. His next fight was a fourth round knockout victory over Victor Ortíz. After that, there was a rematch with Marquez, who was beaten again, this time over twelve rounds.

Next came his first international fight, in Caracas, Venezuela, against the future four-time world title challenger Leonel Hernandez. De Jesús won the ten round fight by unanimous decision in what was the start of a four fight tour of Venezuela. That Venezuelan campaign ended with a ten round decision loss against former world champion Antonio Gomez in Caracas.

1972 was a pivotal year in de Jesús' career. He won six fights in a row, including a twelve round knockout win in a third fight with Marquez, and a ten round decision over Doug McClendon. Despite all the wins, he was virtually unknown to most boxing fans. That changed quickly in his last fight of 1972 against the undefeated new world's Lightweight champion Roberto Durán at the Madison Square Garden arena. In a televised bout that marked the beginning of the "Durán - de Jesús trilogy", de Jesús dropped Durán in round one and went on to inflict Durán's first defeat in a ten round decision.

In 1973, he was rewarded for his efforts, receiving a chance to challenge Ray Lampkin for the North American Boxing Federation lightweight belt. He won the vacant title by beating Lampkin in a twelve round decision. He went on to beat Johnny Gant and Raul Montoya in ten round decisions and beat Lampkin by decision in a rematch in New York. He finished 1973 with a first round knockout win over fringe contender Al Ford.

He began 1974 by knocking out former world Jr. Welterweight champion Alfonso "Peppermint" Frazer in ten rounds in San Juan, Puerto Rico, after which he traveled to Panama City to receive his first world title shot and, at the same time, face Durán in the second fight of their trilogy. He once again dropped Durán in round one, but this time Durán rebounded and dominated the bout, retaining the title in an eleventh round knockout. He recovered from that defeat with two more wins before the end of the year.

In 1975, he went up in weight briefly, and after beating Jesse Lara by a knockout in three, he returned to Panama City to challenge Colombia's Antonio Cervantes for the world's Jr. Welterweight title, losing in a fifteen round decision. He beat Rudy Barros by knockout in round five to end that year, and started 1976 by beating Valentin Ramos by knockout in round two.

Next came his third world title try when the WBC's world Lightweight champion Ishimatsu Suzuki of Japan traveled to Puerto Rico to defend his title against de Jesús. The third time proved to be the charm for de Jesús, who won the world title by beating Suzuki in a fifteen round decision. He retained the title against Hector Medina with a knockout in round seven.

De Jesús admitted publicly to using drugs during his boxing career.[1][2] He began using cocaine and heroin early in his boxing career with an older brother, Enrique.[3]

In 1977, he retained the title against Buzzsaw Yamabe by knockout in round six and against Vicente Mijares Saldivar by knockout in round eleven.

1978 began with the third and final chapter of his trilogy with Durán. In a title unification bout in Las Vegas, which displayed Durán at the peak of his power, Durán systematically broke down de Jesús resulting in a twelfth round knockout.

De Jesús rebounded with three wins before the end of that year, including one over former world title challenger Edwin Viruet.

In 1979, he had two more wins, including one over Jimmy Blevins. After beating Jose Vallejo by a knockout in round seven in San Juan to start 1980, he traveled to Bloomington, Minnesota, to challenge Saoul Mamby for Mamby's WBC world Jr. Welterweight title, in the major supporting event of the Larry Holmes-Scott Le Doux world heavyweight championship bout's undercard. In what turned out to be his last fight, he was beaten by a knockout in thirteen rounds.

His record was 57 wins and 5 losses, with 32 wins by knockout.

Professional record[edit]

58 Wins (33 Knockouts, 25 Decision), 5 Losses, 0 Draws
Res. Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Loss 58-5 United States Saoul Mamby TKO 13 (15) 1980-07-07 United States Metropolitan Sports Center, Bloomington, Minnesota, USA For WBC World Super Lightweight title.
Win 58-4 Dominican Republic Jose Vallejo KO 7 (10) 1980-05-10 Puerto Rico Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 57-4 Puerto Rico Ruby Ortiz UD 10 1979-11-09 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA
Win 56-4 United States Jimmy Blevins UD 10 1979-10-04 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA
Win 55-4 Puerto Rico Edwin Viruet SD 10 1978-10-27 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA
Win 54-4 Venezuela Chuchu Hernandez TKO 2 (8) 1978-07-08 Puerto Rico Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 53-4 Dominican Republic Pablo Baez TKO 3 (8) 1978-06-03 Puerto Rico Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Loss 52-4 Panama Roberto Durán TKO 12 (15) 1978-01-21 United States Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA Lost WBC World Lightweight title.
For WBA World Lightweight title.
Win 52-3 United States James Brackett UD 10 1977-09-10 Puerto Rico Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 51-3 Mexico Vicente Mijares KO 11 (15) 1977-06-25 Puerto Rico Loubriel Stadium, Bayamon, Puerto Rico Retained WBC World Lightweight title.
Win 50-3 Japan Buzzsaw Yamabe TKO 6 (15) 1977-02-12 Puerto Rico Loubriel Stadium, Bayamon, Puerto Rico Retained WBC World Lightweight title.
Win 49-3 Dominican Republic Hector Julio Medina KO 7 (15) 1976-09-10 Puerto Rico Loubriel Stadium, Bayamon, Puerto Rico Retained WBC World Lightweight title.
Win 48-3 Japan Guts Ishimatsu UD 15 1976-05-08 Puerto Rico Loubriel Stadium, Bayamon, Puerto Rico Won WBC World Lightweight title.
Win 47-3 Mexico Valente Ramos TKO 2 (10) 1976-03-06 Puerto Rico Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 46-3 Philippines Rudy Barro TKO 5 (10) 1975-10-11 Puerto Rico Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Loss 45-3 Colombia Antonio Cervantes UD 15 1975-05-17 Panama Panama City, Panama For WBA World Super Lightweight title.
Win 45-2 United States Jesse Lara KO 3 (10) 1975-03-15 Venezuela El Poliedro, Caracas, Venezuela
Win 44-2 Mexico Javier Ayala UD 10 1974-09-02 Puerto Rico Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 43-2 Mexico Gerardo Ferrat TKO 5 (10) 1974-06-10 Puerto Rico Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Loss 42-2 Panama Roberto Durán KO 11 (15) 1974-03-16 Panama Panama City, Panama For WBA World Lightweight title.
Win 42-1 Panama Alfonso Frazer KO 10 (10) 1974-01-07 Puerto Rico Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 41-1 United States Al Foster KO 1 (10) 1973-11-22 Puerto Rico Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 40-1 United States Miguel Mayan UD 10 1973-10-29 Puerto Rico Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 39-1 Dominican Republic Radames Checo KO 1 (12) 1973-09-08 Panama Panama City, Panama
Win 38-1 United States Ray Lampkin UD 12 1973-07-14 United States Felt Forum, New York, New York, USA Retained NABF Lightweight title.
Win 37-1 Mexico Raul Montoya UD 10 1973-05-21 Puerto Rico Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 36-1 United States Johnny Gant UD 10 1973-04-16 Puerto Rico Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 35-1 United States Ray Lampkin UD 12 1973-02-16 Puerto Rico Coliseo Roberto Clemente, San Juan, Puerto Rico Won vacant NABF Lightweight title.
Win 34-1 Panama Roberto Durán UD 10 1972-11-17 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA
Win 33-1 United States Doc McClendon UD 10 1972-10-30 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 32-1 Brazil Raymundo Dias UD 10 1972-09-18 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 31-1 United States Chuck Wilburn UD 10 1972-07-28 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, USA
Win 30-1 Cuba Angel Robinson Garcia UD 10 1972-07-08 Puerto Rico Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 29-1 Puerto Rico Josue Marquez TKO 12 (12) 1972-05-01 United States Felt Forum, New York, New York, USA Retained Puerto Rican Lightweight title.
Win 28-1 United States George Foster TKO 8 (10) 1972-04-10 United States Felt Forum, New York, New York, USA
Win 27-1 Jamaica Percy Hayles UD 10 1972-02-14 Puerto Rico Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Loss 26-1 Venezuela Antonio Gomez UD 10 1971-12-10 Venezuela Caracas, Venezuela
Win 26-0 Colombia Milton Mendez KO 5 (10) 1971-10-30 Venezuela Caracas, Venezuela
Win 25-0 Venezuela Frank Leroy KO 7 (10) 1971-10-20 Venezuela Caracas, Venezuela
Win 24-0 Venezuela Leonel Hernandez UD 10 1971-10-06 Venezuela Caracas, Venezuela
Win 23-0 Puerto Rico Josue Marquez UD 12 1971-09-04 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico Retained Puerto Rican Lightweight title.
Win 22-0 Puerto Rico Victor Ortiz KO 4 (10) 1971-08-07 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 21-0 Puerto Rico Josue Marquez UD 12 1971-07-24 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico Won Puerto Rican Lightweight title.
Win 20-0 Venezuela Armando Mendoza TKO 7 (10) 1971-06-05 Venezuela Caracas, Venezuela
Win 19-0 Venezuela Gustavo Briceno UD 10 1971-05-05 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 18-0 United States Johnny Harp UD 10 1971-04-12 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 17-0 Puerto Rico Jose Llano KO 7 (10) 1970-10-19 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 16-0 Puerto Rico Johnny Sandoval UD 10 1970-09-30 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 15-0 United States Tommy Shaffer KO 8 (10) 1970-07-09 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 14-0 Saint Kitts and Nevis Coverly Kid Daniels KO 6 (10) 1970-05-12 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 13-0 Dominican Republic Jose Jimenez UD 10 1970-04-30 Puerto Rico Ponce, Puerto Rico
Win 12-0 Puerto Rico Ike Estrada KO 5 (10) 1970-04-06 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 11-0 United States Bobby Parnell KO 1 (10) 1970-03-28 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 10-0 Dominican Republic Braulio Rodriguez TKO 8 (10) 1970-02-28 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 9-0 Dominican Republic Chino Guerrero TKO 3 (10) 1970-02-14 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 8-0 Venezuela Martin Cuello KO 2 (10) 1970-01-24 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 7-0 Guyana Ivelaw Eastman KO 5 (8) 1969-11-22 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 6-0 United States Kid Matt Sheffield TKO 2 (8) 1969-10-19 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 5-0 Puerto Rico Ramon Montes KO 3 (6) 1969-09-27 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 4-0 Puerto Rico Johnny Sandoval UD 6 1969-08-23 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 3-0 Puerto Rico Francisco Maldonado KO 3 (6) 1969-08-02 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 2-0 Dominican Republic Braulio Rodriguez KO 4 (6) 1969-07-21 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Win 1-0 Puerto Rico El Tarita KO 2 (6) 1969-02-10 Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico Professional Debut.
Preceded by
Guts Ishimatsu
WBC Lightweight Champion
8 May 1976–21 Jan 1978
Succeeded by
Roberto Durán

After boxing[edit]

On the Thanksgiving weekend of 1980, in what became a famous case in Puerto Rico, after having injected himself with cocaine, de Jesús was involved in a traffic dispute with 17-year-old Roberto Cintron Gonzalez and fatally shot Gonzalez in the head.[4] He was sentenced to life in prison. There, he excelled in another sport, baseball, making the Puerto Rico penal system all star team three times. In 1984, he became a born-again Christian and started to turn his life around, becoming a preacher.

In 1985, he learned that Enrique, with whom he had shared needles, had died of AIDS. De Jesús tested positive for the virus, and symptoms began to appear.[5] After it became public knowledge that de Jesús had acquired HIV and had become a sufferer of AIDS, governor Rafael Hernández Colón pardoned him.

After returning to spend his last days with his family, de Jesús was visited by many celebrities, including hall of fame baseball player Orlando Cepeda, Salsa music superstar Cheo Feliciano and his old nemesis Roberto Durán. Durán hugged and kissed de Jesús and told his daughter to do the same. This event was witnessed by José Torres who said he was amazed to see Durán's compassionate gesture as he lifted de Jesús out of his bed and hugged him at a time when so little was known and so much feared about AIDS.[1]

Esteban de Jesús died one month after being pardoned at the age of 37.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

1. Hands of Stone - Christian Giudice

External links[edit]