David Gonzalez: Wasted Talent

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David Gonzalez: Wasted Talent

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At one time David Gonzalez was a rock solid amateur — some even called him a five star prospect  when he first started out as a pro in Houston in 1985 (he later moved to San Jose). He eventually would beat many fine boxers including Tracy Sneed, Anthony Jones, “Saigon” Skipper Kelp,. Cassius Clay Horne, a prime and undefeated Dwayne Swift—and a fought to a controversial draw with Ernie Landeros.  However, when it came to training, it was rumored that he was challenged and undisciplined, often struggling to make weight. Moreover, his personal life was one filled with tragedy and death (albeit accidental), both before and after he came to the south Bay area.

Rico Velasquez (1988)

Velazquez was too gutty, too brave for his own good. He couldn't hit Gonzales hard enough to keep him off of him." Jack Fiske of the San Francisco Chronicle, After being taken out by Edward Parker in 1985, David launched a 26-bout streak in which he went unbeaten. It lasted until 1992.

Along the way, tragedy struck. On August 19, 1988, and in what looked to be a possible mismatch, the skilled David (17-1-1) fought Rico Velasquez (16-4) for the USA California State lightweight crown at the Civic Auditorium in San Jose, California. There were rumors that Rico, the defending California lightweight champion, came into the fight with two slightly blackened eyes indicative of a broken nose. Whatever the case, Rico was too proud and brave for his own good and  was mugged, mauled and mangled in a one-sided beat-down that --for all practical purposes--left him dead in the ring in the eighth round in a fight that could well have been stopped much earlier. Velasquez would officially be declared dead two days later, after life-support measures were removed. Dr. Jeff Gutman, who helped care for Velazquez after a two-hour operation, said the injury was caused by a sharp, sudden motion and may have resulted from a single blow.


David’s win streak was finally broken when he lost a razor thin SD to Anthony Stephens in 1992. His record was 29-1-1-and he had won the USA California State lightweight title as well as the vacant NABF welterweight title in 1991.

However, back on May 28, 1990, while he was the WBC’s sixth ranked lightweight, he was shot in the back outside a Los Angeles lounge. When he recovered, he resumed his winning ways until the Stephens loss. He then beat tough and undefeated Skipper Kelp in Phoenix in 1992 and ran off five more wins until losing a close 10-rounder to fast and super talented Kenny Gould (26-2) in 1993 and for the first time, it appeared his great potential may have been topped off and that he was now on the wrong side of the Bell-shaped curve. Gould who won a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul retired after beating David reportedly because of a shoulder injury..

In a twist of fate, Kenny would lose to Laurent Boudounani of France who in turn would lose to Robert Wangila of Kenya in the finals.

Robert Wangila (1994)

There will be a burial without professional riches, without accolades, without anything he [Robert Wangila] came to the United States six years ago to acquire.—LA Times. July 29, 1994.

After three more wins, he fought 1988 Olympic Gold Medallist from Kenya Robert “Kidd” Wangila at the Aladdin in Las Vegas on July 22, 1994. During his Amateur career, “Kidd” had compiled a record of 165 wins and 5 losses and was the finest boxer Kenya has ever produced having being the only Kenyan to win an Olympics Gold Medal.

After a brutal beatdown in which David (ranked number ten by the WBC at the time) made like Marciano by pounding Robert on every visible spot, the fight was finally stopped by Referee Joe Cortez in the ninth round. Wangila, in an all too familiar and scary scenario, then collapsed in the dressing room and soon fell into a coma. Doctors at the University Medical Centre later said that he had a blood clot on the right side of his head. He was operated on but passed away 36 hours after the match. Though he never fulfilled his professional promise, Robert remains a legend in Kenyan boxing circles and his legacy lives on in the Robert Wangila Memorial Boxing Cup.

As for David Gonzalez, his final record was a solid 40-6-1 with his only title bid, a ninth round TKO loss to the great Terry Norris in September 1995. He retired after a comeback of sorts in May 1997 when he lost to Danny Garcia (27-16) in Costa Rica. Reportedly, he has now moved on with his life, but one can only conjecture as to his thoughts and memories and on what could have been.

“Those of us who don't box -- even if we watch -- cannot ever understand it. But as we hurl ourselves down the freeway like suicidal maniacs, poison ourselves with tainted water, tainted air and edibles of questionable health value and drive ourselves to mental and physical exhaustion in pursuit of financial goals, suddenly, the dream of a $22 million payday doesn't seem so foolish after all.” Reprinted from San Jose Metro, December 1988

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