Hall of Famer Eder Jofre, legendary bantamweight and featherweight champion, dies at 86

Former bantamweight and featherweight champion Eder Jofre, being honored by the WBC at its 2019 convention in Cancun, Mexico, died Sunday at 86 in Brazil.
Former bantamweight and featherweight champion Eder Jofre, being honored by the WBC at its 2019 convention in Cancun, Mexico, died Sunday at 86 in Brazil. (Photo courtesy of WBC)

Eder Jofre, arguably the greatest Brazilian boxer whose skills and punching power helped land him in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, died Sunday in Brazil after a lengthy illness. He was 86.

Jofre, who competed in the 1956 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland, is regarded as among the greatest bantamweight champions ever and in 2003 was ranked by The Ring as 85th among the 100 greatest punchers of all time.

He was 72-2-4 with 50 KOs. In one of his draws, on Nov. 5, 1965, against Manny Elias, he won on all three scorecards but since a rule in Brazil mandated that a fighter needed to be leading by at least four points on at least two cards, the bout was ruled a draw.

His only losses were to Fighting Harada in bouts for the WBA and WBC bantamweight titles. Harada won a split decision on May 18, 1965, in Nagoya, Japan. Harada won a unanimous decision by scores of 69-68, 71-68 and 71-69, in the rematch in Tokyo, on May 31, 1966.

The WBC held an amateur tournament Saturday in Brazil named in Jofre's honor. The event featured fighters from Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador and Mexico. He died several hours following its completion.

"He was a warrior," WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman told Yahoo Sports. "He was a great fighter who competed at a time when the bantamweight division was very important and had so many great fighters. Fighting Harada, Jose Medel. He had so many great fights and he is considered the greatest bantamweight of all time. That era, boxing was so different. They fought 15 rounds and the fighters were so much more active. He was really a great and amazing fighter.

"He was a classic boxer but he had power. His technique was very good and he was aggressive, so he was always fun to watch. He could take a punch, too, and was just tremendous. He was a great boxer and a great guy. This is a big loss."

Jofre retired at 30 years old after the second loss to Harada. He was 47-2-4 at the time. After three years retired, he came back as a featherweight. He reeled off 14 consecutive wins to earn a shot at the WBC featherweight title against Jose Legra in Brasilia, Brazil, on May 5, 1973. Jofre won by majority decision to become the lineal as well as the WBC featherweight champion.

He wasn't himself as a featherweight and was stripped of the title a year later. He never lost another bout before retiring for good in 1976.

He was an alderman for 16 years in Brazil after he retired and made many public appearances. The WBC honored him at its convention in Cancun, Mexico, in 2019.

"He had been battling [illness] hard for many years, but he was always strong and positive and smiling," said Sulaiman,

Jofre was "extremely close" with Sulaiman's father, Jose Sulaiman. Jose Sulaiman was president of the WBC for many years before his son, Mauricio, succeeded him following his death.

"When he was out in the public, he would start sparring people in a funny kind of way and was always happy and loved to be around boxing people and boxing fans," Mauricio Sulaiman said.

Champion Eder Jofre of Brazil lands a neat right to the nose of challenger Herman Marquez of Stockton, Calif. in eighth round of their bantamweight title fight at the Cow Palace in San Francisco May 4, 1962.   The fight in the tenth round with Jofre retaining his title by a knockout.   (AP Photo)
Eder Jofre (R), shown in a 1962 bantamweight title fight in San Francisco, California, with Herman Marquez, died Sunday in Brazil at 86 years old. He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. (AP Photo)