Kid Chocolate

On January 6, 1910 — precisely a century ago — the Cuban boxer Kid Chocolate proceeded to undergo a ten-round bout with his mother’s uterus. He was declared the winner by a doctor (no referees were available in the hospital) and was awarded an umbilical snip for his preborn pugilism. It is safe to say that Kid Chocolate is no longer alive. Indeed, he has not been alive for a good twenty years. But there was a time in which Eligio SardiƱas Montalvo — once referred to, in all seriousness, as The Cuban Bon Bon, a sobriquet that could not easily fly today — was undefeated. But his opponents were better and he began to lose.

Kid Chocolate would be co-opted by Clifford Odets for his play, Golden Boy, where Kid Chocolate would be synthesized into the Baltimore Chocolate Drop. Odets introduces this composite by having the boy say, “The Baltimore Chocolate Drop is not as good as you think he is.” I would have asked Odets, “Is this entirely fair?” A December 24, 1959 issue of Jet reports that Kid Chocolate owned four homes at the time. I do not know whether or not he lost them. But one of the factors that motivated Sugar Ray Robinson to become a boxer, according to Herb Boyd and Ray Robinson’s Pound for Pound, was Robinson learning that Kid Chocolate made $75,000 for a half hour of fighting in the ring.

That’s $2,500 a minute to have someone beat you to a pulp before a crowd. Is it worth it? I think most people would say so. Without accounting for inflation, Kid Chocolate made more from one fight than I have ever made in a year. If I had to fight only one fight (30 minutes a year), at the risk of brain damage, a beaten corpus, and a warped skull, but I was able to earn that kind of money, then I might seriously consider Kid Chocolate’s rates. Then again, if I were to suffer brain damage, then I wouldn’t be able to write. So perhaps it’s not worth that kind of blood money. Even if I were to spend a good deal of time getting in the appropriate shape. Which I imagine would run into my reading and writing time. I would be a rather silly boxer.

By 1965, Robinson was broke. He had made $4 million boxing and it was all gone. Robinson may have been inspired by the wrong detail. Money (or the fantasy of earning a lot of it) isn’t really a good reason to make a major life decision. But Robinson, to his credit, lived longer than Clifford Odets did. Kid Chocolate lived longer than both of them. I have a feeling that Kid Chocolate simply liked to box. He had numerous flashy moves. You can look all this up if you’re curious.

Given the choice between Kid Chocolate (or even Sugar Ray Robinson) and Clifford Odets, which one will be more remembered a century from now? Or will any of them be remembered? All three individuals interest me. But I am not sure if anybody will be interested in them one hundred years from now. There may be some boxing scholar sifting through boxes (that is, if they are preserved), attempting to put together some comprehensive history. But will boxing have changed? If the theatricality of “professional” wrestling can shift dramatically to extreme elements involving nails, glass, and boards in a few mere decades, then it’s safe to say that boxing could just as easily become more gloves-off in the future. So will anybody be interested in past versions?

It is also worth observing that these fights tend to interest spectators as they unfold in the present. If you already know the fate of the match, then the boxing bout loses its appeal. On the other hand, Odets, being a playwright who planted figures in the crowd for some of his work, was also interested in the present moment. So is it entirely fair to place Odets above the boxers?

I had originally set out to merely observe that it was Kid Chocolate’s 100th birthday. Should I live another fifty years (a possibility, but one never knows!), I will remember Kid Chocolate on his 150th birthday and perform greater justice than this silly post assembled in the early morning hours.

Excerpt from Jose Canseco’s New Book “Bright Lights, Big Baseball Stadium”

You can knock any ball out of the park. But you look at your biceps and you see that they’re lacking. You want muscles, the same way that young teenage girls want personal shoppers. You had a personal shopper once, but she didn’t like it when you ran around Saks Fifth Avenue with your shirt off.

So it’s come to this. Hank and his secret stash. You stop studying your credit card statements. You look at the needle and you stick it in your arm and you feel your muscles expanding. You know that you’re a better baseball player, a better man, and that you can stop anyone’s heartbeat with a single thought.

You’re unstoppable, kid. Who cares if you’re growing older?

Your friends think you’re out of control. But the nice thing about steroids is that you can get new friends. Glitzy people who will nod their head and tell you that your deltoid muscles are the Eighth Wonder of the World. And the locker room groupies arrive more frequently. You feel impotent, but you don’t care. They’re caught in the moment. And besides there’s that penis pump you borrowed from Number 34.

Steroids will cure disease. Steroids are your true compadre. Good thing you can operate as an athlete. Because the last thing you need is some bullshit allegation that you’re not a team player.