Special Thanks to writer Timothy Medina
He fought during a time when African-American and Puerto Rican boxers were still feared and they weren’t given the opportunities they deserved because of prejudices.
He was one among a set of African-American fighters known as Murderers’ Row who engaged in fierce rivalries among themselves while world champions looked the other way, and avoided them like the Black Plague. The Cocoa Kid was rated in the top ten by The Ring magazine as a Lightweight, Welterweight, and Middleweight between 1933 and 1947.
Despite being heavily avoided, Hardwick, born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, had a legendary 19-year career in which he compiled an eye catching record of 178 wins (48 by knockout), 58 losses, and 11 draws. He faced many Hall-of-Fame fighters during his career, most noted for facing Black Murderers’ Row member, Holman Williams who is considered by many to have been the greatest in-ring technician that ever lived. They had a total of thirteen bouts against each other, in which Hardwick won eight of them, lost three, and settled for a draw in two.
There’s been so many Puerto Rican all-time greats to grace boxing and when discussing them, Herbert Lewis Hardwick should be in the discussion. Despite not ever being given the chance to contest for a world title, his presence was heavily felt in the world of boxing.
In 2012 he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, however, I feel his legacy isn’t celebrated enough. So in the month of which he passed away 52 years ago, I want to celebrate his legacy. Cocoa Kid, thank you for paving the way for so many of the great Puerto Rican fighters that came after you.