When people think of great Boxing nations, especially those south of the USA, it is often Mexico which springs to mind, the nation has given us some of the all time greats such as Julio Cesar Chavez and a young boxer tragically killed at 23, Salvador Sanchez who may have ended up being the best Mexican boxer ever had it not been for his untimely death – this is high praise indeed when you look at the list of quality fighters coming out of the nation, Juan Manual Marquez, Marco Antonia Barrera, Erik Morales, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez not to mention those who were born in the USA, Oscar De La Hoya immediately springs to mind there. But if there is any other nation south of the USA which can lay claim to being a harbinger of great Boxing talent on a par with Mexico, it is Argentina.
When you think Argentina, you most likely think of Football, and if you’re anything like me, you think Maradonna was the greatest football player of them all, but the South American nation is rich in Boxing history and talent. Some of the names to have come out of the country include one of the greatest ever Boxers let alone greatest middleweights in history, Carlos Monzon, Oscar Bonavena a heavyweight who fought both Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, giving each a terrible time in the ring and the recently retired Sergio Martinez the middleweight champion who ruled for 4yrs. Todays stars include the hard hitting welterweight Marcos Maidana, Lucas Matthysse and Diego Chavez. But there is one fighter from Argentina you may not have heard so much about, perhaps because his career ran alongside his great compatriot Carlos Monzon, perhaps because he did not often fight outside of South America, maybe even perhaps because he himself wasn’t always known to dedicate himself fully to his boxing, often eating as he pleased and chain smoking, but if you heard his record was only 4 defeats from 136 fights, you would immediately recognize this man must have possessed some serious talent. He was known as ‘El Intocable’ or ‘The Untouchable’ due to his amazing defensive skills and his ability to make his opponent miss. He is Nicolino Locche, a forgotten legend of the sport.
Nicolino Locche was a light welterweight World champion who boxed between the years of 1958 to 1976, born in September 1939 he became world champion in 1968 having defeated Paul Takeshi Fuji in his own turf in Japan, his opponent’s corner halting the fight having seen Fuji punch and miss his way to exhaustion. Locche was known
for his defensive wizardry, often employing a variation of the shoulder roll, his reflexes were such that he could stand presenting his head to you, hold his hands by his side and still make you miss all of your punches. Locches most notable performance was a victory over Antonio Cervantes – a future Hall of Famer, winning every single round on the judges card against a Hall of Fame opponent? That alone should speak volumes of Locches talent. Nicolino Locche was a real gritty boxer, if you haven’t seen Locche you must be wondering what does he look like? he must have been some athlete to compete in 136 bouts, to make his opponents miss and possess such great defensive ability, but on the contrary he was not the stereotypical boxer, balding, smoking between rounds he looked more like he had been plucked from the crowd having just walked in from the pub to fight after the real boxer hadn’t turned up for the bout, but a real boxer and a great boxer he was. He was not blessed with quick hands or feet, he did not possess a big punch, indeed some may say he was known for lacking power(just 14 KO’s in his career) but yet he was able to craft out a Hall of Fame career, all that on top of not paying full attention to his health, who knows just how great he could have been had he been blessed with a little more speed and power or even better habits towards his health, Locche was a throwback kind of fighter, from Boxings great years and he would be equally successful in any period he would have come along in. Locche was a pioneer in defensive boxing, well ahead of his time and young boxers would do well to study his style of evading and countering punches. Indeed it is said that Ray Arcel, one of the greatest minds in Boxing who trained countless champions such as Roberto Duran, Larry Holmes, Ezzard Charles and Kid Gavilan and saw the best fighters spanning 7 decades once commented on the great Locche ‘Locche trained lazily. He lacked a punch. He smoked up to 50 cigarettes a day. Heck, he smoked cigarettes in the ring between rounds! And despite all this, Nicolino Locche was quite possibly the most brilliantly defensive fighter in the history of boxing. Like Pep, Locche could stand in the center of the ring, hands at his sides, and openly laugh as his opponents tried desperately to land a solid punch, each effort missing by just an inch as Locche just barely moved out of harm’s way.’
Nicolino Locche was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003, he died two years later in September 2005 of heart failure, 5 days after his 66th birthday. Here is a great little video of the legend in action, enjoy the masterpiece and uncanny instincts of ‘El Intocable’