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26 APRIL 2018


Half-forgotten heroes

SecondsOut welcomes back long-time Legends contributor Joe Queijo, who takes a look at two of boxing's lesser known greats:

Al Hostak-Former Middleweight champion of the World

Al Hostak is one of the hardiest hitting 160lbs champions of all-time, if one of the least well known.

Hostak was born in Minneapolis on 7 January 1916; his father was Czechoslovakian who had settled in the US some years previously. After a brief amateur career Al turn pro at eighteen with instant success. Hostak venomous punching brought him a run of 13 straight kayos before facing the excellent Freddie Steele for the NBA middleweight crown.

The rugged Steele was the overwhelming favourite but was blasted to the canvas four times and counted out in 1 minute 42 seconds! After such a sensational victory the durable Solly Krieger was brought in as a safe first defense. Hostak battered his opponent around the ring in the early rounds with ease but broke both hands letting Krieger back into the contest as he out hustled the champion for a decision win.

Hostak received the obligatory return and was in blinding form. Krieger was badly beaten, hitting the canvas four times and being kayoed in the fourth round. The champion's first defence was against Germany's Eric Seelig who was brutally kayoed in 81 seconds.

Al then took on rated contender and future great Tony Zale in a ten round non-title bout. Zale took the decision in a hard battle to set up the title match. Hostak came out smoking trying to retain his beloved title as he took the first five rounds with big single shots. Zale absorbed the punishment and hurt the champion with a vicious right to the body in the sixth which swung fortunes to the challengers side. Al took a real beating before being kayoed in the thirteenth of a brutal encounter. Hostak tried to become a three-time middleweight champion in a third fight with Zale but was destroyed in two rounds. He fought on with success before finally hanging up his gloves in 1949 after a distinguished career. Al Hostak later became a Deputy Sheriff as well as a successful businessman.

Al Hostak: Total fights 83, Wins 68, Losses 9, Draws 6 (47)

Carlos Zarate - WBC Bantamweight champion
Carlos Zarate was a spectacular puncher who relentlessly stalked his opponents with stunning efficiency. His dominance of the 118lbs division was absolute, easily making him one of the greatest Bantamweights of all-time.

Zarate was born in Mexico on 23-5-1951. Carlos quickly turned professional at eighteen and run of a incredible 18 straight kayos before going the distance for the first time. Another 15 kayos later Zarate challenge crafty Rodolfo Martinez for the WBC crown. The champion started strongly but was decked in the fifth and battered until being kayoed in the ninth by a vicious right uppercut. Three easy kayo defences followed before Carlos embarked on the biggest fight of his career against undefeated WBA champion Alfonso Zamora in a non-title bout.

Zamora was a tremendous puncher with an awesome 29-0 (29) record including a crushing two round kayo of future featherweight great Eusebio Pedroza. Politics prevented Zarate-Zamora being a unification match but it turned into Carlos's greatest performance. Zamora took the first as he shook Zarate with a mighty left hook but Carlos took complete control with vicious hooks and uppercuts from both hands to floor Zamora twice in the third and finish him off in the fourth with a venomous combination.

Zarate made five further kayo defences after his clinical dismissal of Zamora including a eight round stoppage of future champ Alberto Davila before moving up to face the superlative Wilfredo Gomez at Super-bantamweight. Gomez with a thunderous puncher who would eventually make 17 defenses of his crown (all by kayo) before winning feather and super-featherweight belts. Zarate fought well over the first three rounds but was caught in the fourth and hit the canvas three times before being stopped in the fifth.

Zarate returned from that loss with a easy three round kayo over Mensah Kpalongo for his ninth successful defence before taking on the teak tough Lupe Pintor. Zarate started strongly sweeping the early rounds even putting the iron-chinned Pintor down before the tough challenger came on to take the latter rounds of a hard fifteen rounder. At the end of the contest Pintor took a controversial decision which angered Zarate so much he retired from the sport in 1979.

He returned as a super-bantamweight in 1986 with twelve wins which got him a shot at the rugged Jeff Fenech. In a foul filled brawl which ended in a four round technical decision in favor of the champion. A final title shot against the resolute Daniel Zaragoza ended in a one-sided tenth round loss which prompted Zarate to retire for good.

Total fights: 65, Wins 61, Losses 4, Draws 0 (58).

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