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Memorial to Pasadena boxer comes one step closer

Parks commission approves a plaque honoring Canto Robledo, who trained prizefighters even though he was blind.

October 08, 2009|Nicole Santa Cruz

Leaders of Pasadena's Latino community cheered, clapped and shared hugs this week as the Recreation and Parks Commission unanimously recommended a proposal for a permanent memorial to the late boxer Canto Robledo.

Robledo, who died in 1999, was one of the few blind managers and trainers in boxing. After losing his sight because of a detached retina at 22, he refused to quit the sport he loved and went on to train nearly 500 fighters -- 200 of them professionals -- before he retired in 1990.

After various failed attempts at establishing a memorial, such as renaming a park or commissioning a bronze statue, supporters say they are one step closer to recognizing the boxer as a piece of Pasadena's history. Though the approval may seem small, it was an accomplishment for supporters who had been advocating a memorial for years. The City Council must still approve the memorial.

"This is a very proud moment," said Joseph Robledo, Canto Robledo's son. "It's a huge powerful statement because it sends a message that Pasadena has recognized his gigantic legacy."

The proposed memorial will be a 37-inch by 25-inch wall relief with a 10-inch by 16-inch bronze plaque mounted at Villa-Parke Community Center.

Others who spoke in support of the plaque during Tuesday's meeting said Pasadena needs a monument to a Latino.

Greg Harrison, a member of the parks commission, said Canto Robledo's story reminded him of when he was a young, struggling football player.

Though he got pushed around playing the game, his father wouldn't let him quit.

"I was particularly moved by the sentiment of education and how everybody needs a story of perseverance," Harrison said. The memorial, he said, shouldn't stop with a plaque.

"This can be a beginning, it doesn't have to be an end," he said.

Inez Yslas, co-chair of the Pasadena Latino Forum, said she was nearly speechless at the meeting's turnout.

"I have never seen such an incredible crowd come before the city," she said.

Michelle Zavala, Canto Robledo's great-niece, said girls didn't go to Robledo's gym very often. But whenever she stepped inside, she always marveled at the diversity.

"It's not just a Hispanic thing," Zavala said.


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