Agapito Sanchez

Boxing champion
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The Independent Online

Agapito Sánchez, boxer: born El Aguacate, Dominican Republic 14 February 1970; (three children); died Santo Domingo 15 November 2005.

The former world boxing champion Agapito Sánchez, who has died after being shot in a bar-room dispute, was one of the best loved of sportsmen in the boxing-mad Dominican Republic. His death plunged the Caribbean nation into mourning as residents, including government ministers, lined up to file past his coffin.

On 23 June 2001, Sánchez, nicknamed "el Ciclón" ("the Cyclone"), won the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) super-bantamweight title by knocking out the favourite Jorge Monsalvo of Colombia in the seventh round in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the following months, however, he developed cataracts and had to relinquish the title the following year.

Based in Brooklyn, New York, the 5ft 4in Sánchez, a southpaw, tried to win the title back in 2004 but lost by a technical knock-out to his compatriot Joan Guzmán at the San Diego Sports Arena in California. "I hit Agapito with everything but the kitchen sink," Guzmán recalled. "I was hurting my hands because he had such a strong chin."

Agapito Sánchez was born in 1970, to a poor family in the village of El Aguacate in the La Victoria region north of the Dominican Republic's capital, Santo Domingo. His older brother was a boxer, with little success, but that merely encouraged Agapito to leave school and see if he could do better.

He moved to Panama, and later New York, and won 68 of his 76 fights as an amateur, 62 of them by KO, before turning professional in 1995. His pro record when he died was 36 wins, 18 of them by KO, 11 losses and three split decisions. His last fight was on 17 September this year, when he beat Edison Torres of Venezuela in front of a delirious crowd in Santo Domingo.

Phil Davison