By Boxing Bob Newman
In the annals of boxing history, there are far more stories of boxer despair and heartbreak than those of success, especially after their ring career is over. The story of celebrated former WBA flyweight champion Fidel “El Pescador” Bassa is one of those rarities- a heartwarming tale of success and adulation for the diminutive boxer. Following the intriguing talk of Ricardo Lopez the day prior, Fidel Bassa entranced the audience with his life story, from the streets of El Reten, to the boxing rings around the world, to the top of the business world in Colombia.
Born in El Reten, Colombia in December 1962, Bassa followed the family “business” and became a “pescador,” or fisherman. He grew to be the best little salesman in the family. Perhaps overconfident from his success as a fisherman/salesman, Fidel exclaimed to his family one day while walking by a boxing gym, that he could whip the amateur star of the gym. Bassa began to train the best he could, thinking that if he ate large meal before the fight, he’d gain more strength. After too much rice and meat, Bassa got sick and lost. Undeterred, Bassa continued in the amateur ranks, but after a short career, opted not to try out for the Colombian national team and the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Turning pro during the week of his 21st birthday, Bassa scored a KO1 over his foe Emilio Ramarillo. By his sixteenth straight victory, Bassa’s manager Billy Chams was able to angle his charge toward a title shot at reigning champion Hilario Zapata of Panama. After rejecting the purse offered to stage the fight in Panama, Zapata accepted the money offered to travel to Barranquilla, Bassa’s neck of the woods, on February 13, 1987. Despite Zapata being a veteran of 40 fights, 21 of them title fights, Bassa upset the odds and won a fifteen round decision and the WBA Flyweight title.
Two months later, the new champion found himself defending on foreign soil in Ireland against Dave “Boy” McAuley. In a classic all-time war, Bassa came off the canvas to stop McAuley in thirteen brutal rounds. After seven defenses in all, including rematches with Zapata and McAuley, Bassa met the tough Venezuelan Jesus “Kiki” Rojas in Barranquilla, and lost a twelve round split decision. It was found afterward the Bassa suffered a detached retina. After a successful corrective surgery, Bassa hung up the gloves for good with a record of 21-1, 15 KOs.
Not one to feel sorry for himself, Bassa launched into the sales world, relying on his experience as a fish salesman on the streets as a kid. With proper guidance and an unmatched fervor to succeed, Bassa has become an entrepreneur in publishing, educational supply sales and founder of Bassa Group. To all that know him, Bassa is still the man he was before he won the title. Even though he drives a Volvo and lives better than when he was on top of the boxing flyweight world, Bassa maintains his humility, generosity and has the respect of his countrymen, as well as the world boxing community.