Carlos Monzón (August 7, 1942 – January 8,
1995) was an Argentine professional boxer who held the world
middleweight title for 7 years, during which he successfully defended
the title 14 times.
His glamorous and violent life was avidly followed
by the media, culminating with his trial for the murder of his
concubine and his death in a car crash soon thereafter. Argentinians
adored Monzon throughout his career. He was, however, accused many
times of domestic violence by his two wives and many mistresses, and
of beating paparazzi. He toured all of Latin America and Europe with
Argentine and Italian models and actresses. Accused of killing his
wife Alicia Muniz, in Mar del Plata in 1988, the former champion was
sentenced to 11 years in jail. He died in a car crash during a weekend
furlough. He would have been let free in 2001.
Monzón was born in the city of San Javier,
Argentina, and moved to the capital of Santa Fe Province. As a
youngster, he showed interest in boxing.
World Middleweight champion Nino Benvenuti had long
had a distinguished career that included championships in 2 divisions
and 2 wins in 3 bouts vs all-time great Emile Griffith. He had lost
the year before to American Tom Bethea in Australia, but in a title
rematch in Yugoslavia, he avenged that loss.
Nobody expected Monzón to beat Benvenuti in their
title match (very few knew of him). Yet Monzón applied pressure from
the start, and in the 12th, a right hand landed perfectly on
Benvenuti's chin, and the title changed hands. Monzón also beat
Benevenuti in a rematch, this time in only three rounds in Monte Carlo
when his seconds threw in the towel.
In 1971 Monzón became only the second man to stop
former three-time world champion Emile Griffith in 14 rounds, and
later out-pointed him over 15 in a close fight (before the fight
Monzón had to spar three rounds and run three miles in order to make
the weight). Monzón then scored a win over tough Philadelphian Bennie
Briscoe, over-coming a shakey 9th round, in which Briscoe almost
scored a knockout; a knockout in five rounds over European champion
Tom Bogs, a knockout in seven rounds over Mexican José Mantequilla
Nápoles in Paris, France and a 10 round knockout of tough Tony Licata
of New Orleans at the Madison Square Garden, in what would turn out to
be Monzón's only fight in the United States.
However, a darker side of Monzón would soon begin
to emerge. In 1973, Monzón was shot in the leg by his wife, requiring
7 hours of surgery to remove the bullet. In 1975, he began a very
publicized romance with the famous actress and vedette Susana Giménez;
they had previously met in the 1974 thriller La Mary, directed
by Daniel Tinayre, where the two played husband and wife. Monzón hated
paparazzi who detailed his affairs. He went to Italy with Giménez to
participate in a movie, and started increasingly traveling with her to
locations in Brazil and the rest of Latin America, letting himself be
seen with her, though still married.
Soon the beatings he gave his concubine became
public knowledge. Monzón was detained by the police repeatedly.
Giménez also began wearing sunglasses more often, presumably to hide
her bruises, and many times, paparazzi had to be hospitalized from the
beatings suffered at the hands of Monzón, who had unpredictable
violent outbreaks. During this period, Monzón divorced his wife, and
later re-married another Argentine woman.
Monzón's Middleweight championship title was lifted
in 1975 by the WBC for not defending it against mandatory challenger
Rodrigo Valdez. Valdez, a Colombian, then won the WBC's title, while
Monzón kept the WBA's championship. So in 1976, they finally met, this
time, world champion vs. world champion.
Valdez's brother had been shot to death one week
prior to the fight and he did not feel like fighting. Still, they were
under contract and so the fight took place in Monte Carlo and Monzón
handed an uninterested Valdez a beating, winning a 15 round unanimous
decision and unifying the world title once again. Because of the
special circumstances under which Valdez performed, an immediate
rematch was ordered, once again in Monte Carlo.
This time, Valdez came out roaring. In the second
round, right cross to the chin put Monzón down for the only time in
his career. Valdez built a lead through the first half of the fight.
Monzón, however, mounted a brilliant comeback and outboxed Valdez for
the last 8 rounds, winning a unanimous decision to retain the title
and score his 14th title defense.
Monzón retired after this defense and kept a low
public profile through most of the late 1970s and the 1980s. Susana
Giménez left him in 1980. After the breakup, Monzón's private life was
finally closed to the public, but the beatings continued, this time
with his second concubine, Alicia Muñiz.
In 1988, while vacationing in the resort city of
Mar del Plata, he allegedly beat Muñiz so many times that she was
scarred and bloody; ran to the balcony of their second floor apartment
and presumably jumped. According to the investigation performed later,
he followed her there, grabbed her by the neck, and then picked her up
and pushed her off the balcony, to her death, after which he followed
her in the fall injuring a shoulder.
In 1995, Monzón was given a weekend furlough to
visit his family and children. Upon returning to jail after the
weekend, he died instantly when his vehicle rolled over.
His record stands at 87 wins, only three losses,
nine draws, and one no contest. Of his wins, 59 came by knockout. His
only losses were by points and early in his career. In 2003, he was
named by the Ring Magazine as one of the 100 greatest punchers of all
time. On the independent computer-based ranking of boxrec.com he is
listed as the third best middleweight boxer of all time, after Marvin
Hagler and Sugar Ray Robinson.
A monument to him stands in Santa Fe, Argentina.
Carlos Monzon: A glamorous but tragic life
By Michael Rosenthal - RingTV.craveonline.com
November 19, 2010
Sergio Martinez blanched when someone compared him
to countryman and fellow middleweight champion Carlos Monzon recently.
The current champ, who fights Paul Williams on Saturday, took it as a
compliment but wanted to make something clear.
“Carlos Monzon,” he said through a translator, “is
at a different level.”
Amen. Monzon is the greatest fighter ever produced
in Argentina and one of the greatest middleweights of all time,
perhaps second only to the great Sugar Ray Robinson.
Monzon also is one of boxing’s most-tragic stories:
A poor child grows up to be the toast of the boxing world only to end
up in prison for murder and then dead as the result of a car accident.
But 40 years after his greatest triumph -– the day
he stopped Nino Benvenuti to win the title on Nov. 7, 1970 –- his
“Monzon’s image as a champion continues to grow,”
said boxing writer and RING contributor Carlos Irusta, who knew Monzon
well and chronicled his career.
Monzon was typical of many fighters, born into a
dirt-poor family in a forbidding neighborhood. His God-forsaken town
was San Javier, in the province of Santa Fe, north of Buenos Aires.
And, like so many future champions, he took up boxing at a young age
and used it as a way out of his dire circumstances. He turned pro in
1963, at 20, and compiled a record of 16-3 in his first 19 fights.
Monzon (87-3-9, 59 knockouts) would never lose
again, one of the greatest streaks in the history of boxing.
Dub Huntley, the trainer of Daniel Ponce de Leon
and others, traveled to Buenos Aires in August 1968 to fight the then-rising
contender. Huntley, stopped in four rounds, remembers his impressions
of the future champion vividly.
“First, I think he trained very hard,” Huntley said.
“I could see he was in very good condition. And he was smart, very
smart. He had the height (6 feet; 183cm) and reach (76 inches; 193cm)
too. He knew how to use that to his advantage.
“I didn’t think he was so special at the time but I
think he was still developing. He just got better and better and
better until he became a great fighter.”
Monzon was known in Argentina by 1970 as a tough,
accomplished boxer with legitimate title hopes but, according to
Irusta, he was hardly a superstar.
Until he faced Benvenuti that year in Rome. Monzon
dominated the Italian playboy before stopping him in the 12th round of
RING’s Fight of the Year to become the 160-pound champion as his
countrymen gathered around televisions back home in Argentina.
He became a star overnight, a dashing figure who
would hold his title until he retired in 1977 and become an enormous
cultural figure in his country and beyond.
Monzon traveled in social circles he could never
have imagined as a child, partying with movie stars in Paris and the
upper crust back in Buenos Aires. He acted in movies and became a
regular guest on television. His romance with glamorous Argentine
actress Susana Gimenez captivated the masses.
And he was rich. He drove the most-expensive cars
and dressed in fine suits, giving him a look that fit his new-found
“When I became champion I was 28,” Monzon said,
according to Nigel Collins’ fascinating book Boxing Babylon. “I
was not a boy. It was a big change for me because I started to get big
money. I could buy the biggest car. I learned to take care of my
“To become middleweight champion of the world is
very important in any part of the globe, including my country. I know
Argentinians were proud of me.”
That they were. Irusta said Monzon’s fights,
whether overseas or in Argentina, were huge events among his
countrymen after he beat Benvenuti. Everything stopped for the
duration of the action regardless of the time of day.
And he never disappointed his fans in the ring,
beating the likes of Benvenuti (again), Bennie Briscoe, Emile Griffith
(twice), Jose Napoles and Rodrigo Valdez (twice) before calling it
quits when he was convinced he was beginning to decline at 35.
Outside the ring was a different story.
Monzon’s life changed radically because of his
success in boxing but he retained elements of his difficult youth,
including an inner rage and a tendency toward violence.
His temper often got the better of him. He was
known to be physically abusive to women. He did some jail time early
in his career after a brawl. And he was shot twice -– in the arm and
shoulder blade -- by his equally ill-tempered wife in 1973 but
recovered to continue fighting.
However, two lives were destroyed by an incident
that took place in 1988.
Monzon and his supposedly estranged second wife,
Alicia Muniz, with whom he had a stormy but passionate relationship,
were together in a second-story apartment in the beach resort of Mar
del Plata in Argentina when they apparently began to fight.
The details will always be disputed but one thing
is certain: Muniz ended up falling from the balcony and was found dead.
Monzon was arrested, setting off an O.J. Simpson-like trial and media
frenzy that had Argentina riveted.
Irusta remembers his countrymen glued to their
televisions and radios during trial, devouring every bit of
information available, as they once were glued to their TVs when he
Monzon maintained his innocence but an autopsy
indicated that Muniz had been strangled before she went over the
balcony. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to 11 years in
The hero of Argentina had become an inmate.
“Me and my bad temper are the ones responsible for
this,” Monzon said, obviously taking some of the blame. “Yes, me and
my bad temper.”
Irusta visited Monzon in prison several times and
found a broken man. He turned to religion, Irusta said, and became
The former champ continued to maintain his
innocence in spite of his comments about his temper, even recalling to
Irusta happy days he spent with Alicia, and often asked to see the son
they had together, Maximiliano.
Irusta was deeply saddened.
“He was another man,” Irusta said. “When he was
champion, he was like a king or a lion. He used to walk in a way that
made him look important. In jail, he was nothing. The man who used to
give orders to people was now a man who said, ‘Yes sir, yes sir.’
“Yes, it’s a sad story.”
And it became even sadder.
Monzon, due to be released soon, was driving back
to prison after a weekend furlough when he drove off a road and his
car overturned not far from his home in Santa Fe. Monzon, 52, and a
passenger were killed.
So ended the life of one of Argentina’s greatest
sports and cultural figures, lying on the side of a road “looking up
at the Santa Fe sky,” as Irusta put it.
Memories of him are complicated. Those from Santa
Fe, obviously forgiving, remember him as a local hero who conquered
the boxing world. Irusta said his people chanted his name at his
funeral. Those from Buenos Aires, the capital, remember a great
fighter but one who took the life of an innocent young woman.
“Many people won’t pardon him,” Irusta said. “It’s
a very difficult, sad story. I suppose that night he was drunk or
under the affects of drugs. He lost his mind. And I suppose he used to
love Alicia Muniz. …”
Irusta’s voice trailed off.
“… Many years have passed now. There has never
another champion like Monzon. He’s the No. 1 boxing champion in our
history. I think now that’s what people want to remember. I think
there are other things they want to forget."