The worst punishment in ancient Rome was the damnatio memoriae. This punishment meant that not only was the person condemned to death, but their name was also banned and their records were erased. Their legacy was denied. This is what happened to José Manuel Ibar Aspiazu ‘Urtain’, who was once the greatest hero in all of Spain. He was a boxer who captivated the entire country for a brief period of time.
Many people today do not know who Urtain was. Felipe de Luis, a journalist and writer, has written a book called ‘Urtain, portrait of an era’ in an attempt to recover the figure and the personal and social environment of Urtain. Urtain was a triumphant boxer who quickly rose to fame, but his career lasted less than two years. He was defeated by Henry Cooper in 1970, and his popularity declined rapidly. He died in 1992 at the age of 49, after a spiral of self-destruction.
Urtain was more popular than many other stars of his time, such as Santana, Ángel Nieto, Raphael, El Cordobés, Ocaña, Iríbar, Marisol, and Lola Flores. However, after his decline, he was quickly forgotten. There is still debate about whether Urtain was a good or bad boxer, and how his rise and fall were possible.
Urtain’s initial rivals were not considered real boxers, and there was controversy surrounding the quality of his opponents. There was also speculation that the Franco regime wanted a great heavyweight boxer, and Urtain was chosen as a certain ‘social model’. His image was used to promote products such as the Soberano cognac.
Urtain’s career spanned 68 professional fights from 1968 to 1977, and he won 33 in the first two years, with 31 KOs. There are those who have vindicated Urtain as a boxer, and his fights were common among beginners. However, after his decline, he struggled to find success outside of the ring.
Felipe de Luis’s book not only explores Urtain’s life but also the society of the time. It delves into the world of boxing, the popularity of misleading characters, and the money circulating in a poor country. It is a reminder of a world that is not so different from the present.
Urtain knew both glory and its darker side. This book serves as a reminder that boxing is the most literary of sports. It is a unique and fascinating look at a forgotten hero and the society in which he lived.
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