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Puerto Rican boxer Jose 'Chegui' Torres dies at 72

By Jose Fernandez Colon

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Jan. 19 2009 9:50 a.m. MST

PONCE, Puerto Rico — Jose "Chegui" Torres, a former light heavyweight world champion and Olympic silver medalist, died Monday, his widow said. He was 72.

He died of a heart attack at home in his native Puerto Rico, Ramonita Ortiz told The Associated Press.

Torres won the light heavyweight title by beating Willie Pastrano by technical knockout at Madison Square Garden in New York. He made three title defenses before losing to Dick Tiger on a close decision in 1966.

Torres began fighting when he joined the U.S. Army as a teenager, and won a silver medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics while competing for the United States.

After retiring in 1969, he became a representative of New York's Puerto Rican community, chaired the New York State Boxing Commission in the 1980s and served as supervisor for the World Boxing Organization. He also wrote two biographies — "Sting Like a Bee" on Muhammad Ali and "Fire and Fear" on Mike Tyson.

Torres was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997.

"Puerto Rico has lost a great Puerto Rican, a very valiant person who aside from being a great athlete, was a great human being," David Bernier, president of the U.S. territory's Olympic committee, said in an interview with radio station WKAQ.

The mayor of Ponce, on the island's southern coast, declared three days of mourning and ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Torres.

Ortiz said Torres will be buried Thursday in Ponce.

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