Centenary: “Parque Mayer was the cathedral of boxing. It was where everyone wanted to be. It was small, but only the supers went there” – Sports

“It is necessary to go back 23 years from 1975”. The calculations are made by Orlando Jesus, former professional boxer, national champion, coach and current referee, when referring to the boxing matches at Parque Mayer.

Combat sport is intertwined with the century-old history of the once-mythical space of Teatro de Revista and the bohemia of the Portuguese capital.

“The last time Parque Mayer had a fight … we have to go back 23 years to 1975”, he repeats in a paused tone of voice, accompanied by sudden gestures of an exchange of hands accompanying a shrug.

Shooting with the hands was a constant. As well as the movements as if to dodge something.

The exact date is not in the memory of his almost 70 years. “Now, the 25th of April takes place in 1974. We started the following year. In May or June ’75”, he nods his head in confirmation to mark the return of boxing after more than two decades of absence from the place that embraced theaters and artists.

credits: Miguel Morgado | mother media

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credits: Miguel Morgado | mother media

He uses a newspaper clipping pasted on a white sheet, carefully bound in a thick folder of newspaper pieces and black and white photographs. “The whole story is here”, shows an article with the title “Boxing returns to Parque Mayer”.

In an evening conversation with the SAPO24 in a pastry shop in Campo de Ourique (“O Nosso Café), in Lisbon, the theme of the meeting was the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Parque Mayer.

Boxing was practiced there in two periods of history. It started in the 30s, continued through the 40s and 50s, the golden age, and stopped. It would resume in the 70s of the last century until the beginning of the 80s.

The double registration, of practice and suspension, return and new stop, deserves honors to be part of the Centenary program of Parque Mayer, celebrated today, as we will see later.

The 40’s and 50’s. The golden age of boxing in the artists’ field

Orlando Jesus was accompanied by a live and moving archive of documentation. It includes, in addition to the words written in newspapers and magazines, photocopies of various flyers announcing the fights. These are the sources on which he relies to talk about the history of boxing and its sharing of the space where Teatro de Revista deserved the main stage.

Go back, slightly, to the beginning of everything. “Boxing started in the 30s and peaks, where there was also wrestling. The 40s and even 50s were the golden age, they say. Then it stopped and it took 23 years to stop until it resumed”, he focuses again on the number.

The dates of the restart and new suspension in the post-Revolution period continue to betray the memory of Orlando Jesus. He focused on the comeback, in which he was the main character. And in his debut, at age 19, in the ring at Parque Mayer.

“Boxing returns because there is a gentleman, Armando Poncho… I have everything documented here… Mr Brito, the marshal of Boxing, Carlos Santos, owner of Maximes (Cabaré) and Pepe, a Galician who owns a restaurant Cova do Rooster”, he recalls without resorting to any paper. To them, he acknowledges, we owe the rise of the sport of gloves and KOs to the biggest stage.

“There was a lot of audience… a lot”

Orlando Jesus’ life (face of several posters and whose name is written in several newspapers) is confused with boxing. The passion for the ring runs in his blood, or had his grandfather not been the debutante at Casa Pia. “I started to practice in 1967 in Rio de Janeiro and then I went to the Students of Apollo, to the Sociedade Filarmónica Students of Apollo, where I am still president of the Board of the General Assembly”, he recalled.

“In 1975 I became a professional and I will go until 1984”, he explained. “I opened the return of boxing at Parque Mayer. The first fight was with Vítor Pires and I think I had eight fights there. I won them all. In my career I only lost one fight and drew one”, he detailed in the memory of the career in which he jumped between “72 kilos and 600 grams and 69 kg and 800 grams”, he noted. “I only lost against the champion of Europe, Afonso Redondo, a Spaniard,” he said.

Emotion clouds his words as he recalls the nights of combat. “There was a lot of audience… a lot”, she drags her voice and flips through the accompanying “album of records”. “It was next to the Capitol where the car park is today. It had a kind of benches that were filled with chairs. They used to be made of iron. Sometimes it was midnight chair, so there wasn’t… it’s all written down here. It was the rivalries,” he smiled.

From Herman José to Ivone Silva

“It was a little more than five years and, to be honest, it was almost every week”, he assured. The audience included “Herman José and Nicolau Breyner (shows photographs)” and it was usual “to see the theater crowd, Raul Solnado, Ivone Silva, Vítor Mendes, they would all see it”, he guaranteed.

Points to a photograph. It’s himself, in black and white, on a training day. “In Parque Mayer we had a gym with a cement floor. Where the car park is today, there was a shack that had a bag hanging on it”, recorded this living legend of national boxing and former coach of Farid Walizadeh, a boxer of Afghan origin who was a refugee in Portugal, alongside whom he was received in 2014 in São Paulo. Bento to receive the Human Rights Award, from the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Liberties and Guarantees, of the Assembly of the Republic.

credits: Miguel Morgado | mother media

” data-title=”Centenary: “Parque Mayer was the cathedral of boxing. It was where everyone wanted to be. It was small, but only the super went there” – SAPO 24″>

credits: Miguel Morgado | mother media

The date of the new suspension is another fact that escapes him. “The end I don’t remember. I was out. He was a deserter from the troop, he came here and left”, he assumed with a sly smile on the eve of his momentary return from “his” box to the side of the Teatro Capitólio.

Claims that this is a beautiful story to be told and written. “We had boxing at the Sports Pavilion (Today called Carlos Lopes), Coliseu, but Parque Mayer was the cathedral of boxing. It was where everyone wanted to be. It was small, but only the supers went there. It’s like the Olympia in Paris,” he maintained. To step into the ring, “the coaches had to believe to take them there”.

“We’ll do it like we used to, outdoors, next to the Capitol. The idea is to recreate the past.”

Today, starting at 6:30 pm, for more than two hours, boxing returns to Parque Mayer. Six fights included in the Centenary ceremonies of that epicenter of popular culture in Lisbon.

“Space was a boxing mecca at the time. I’m happy to have him back here again”, underlined Pedro Matos, boxer and organizer of this afternoon in which a ring and several pairs of gloves return to the former city of Teatros.

“We’ll do it like we used to, outdoors, next to the Capitol. The idea is to recreate the past,” he said. “It starts at 6:30 pm and admission is free and we have 200 chairs”, he stressed.

The program includes “six combats”, listed Pedro Matos. “Four of Olympic Boxing, one of exhibition of two girls, to show the change of the modality in these years, all of three rounds of three minutes”, he highlighted.

Finally, the most awaited moment. “We will have a professional fight of four three-minute rounds, with Miguel Amaral, from Clube Vitória Nobre Arte, and Ricardo Costa, from Águias da Musgueira”, he highlighted.

The fight, without the right to a prize, takes Orlando Jesus back to a ring where he was happy, now, as a referee. “I will referee this fight”, said the former professional, and “actor” in “three films”.

The story will also be relived by many who have stepped into the ring in the past. “We are going to bring ex-athletes back to space, they will be honored because the visibility then was different from today”, said Pedro Matos.

The professional and organizer of the event, aims to see boxing again in Parque Mayer. “ I hope to have boxing again at Parquer Mayer and a new vision for space. It enters the Centennial program, but the idea is to have an open door to continue and work with the Santo António Parish Council”, he concluded.