Border Brawlers

Quick: Name the Laredo brothers who were world bantamweight champs at the same time.

To most citizens of Webb County, sheriff candidate Jose “Gaby” Canizales is not just another name on the ballot. After all, none of his opponents have made world boxing history.

Gaby and his little brother Orlando are the only siblings ever to hold world boxing titles at the same time. The brothers accomplished the feat last March, when Gaby knocked out Miguel “Happy” Lora in the second round to gain the World Boxing Organization’s bantamweight belt. Since Orlando was already the reigning bantamweight of the International Boxing Federation, the Canizaleses became instant sports trivia immortals.

Those still unfamiliar with the border brawlers were given an eye-opening introduction last May, when Orlando decked European champ Billy Hardy in an outdoor match that was telecast live in the U.S. and more than forty other countries. The bout—Orlando’s sixth title defense—was held just a few blocks from the Laredo Northwest Boys Club, where the brothers first slipped on a pair of gloves. “Our father wanted us to get involved in sports to keep us off the streets,” says Orlando. “There was no ring, so we would just throw mats on the floor, and people would form a circle.”

For two sweet months the Canizales brothers reigned supreme. Then last June a talent named Duke McKenzie scored an unexpected twelve-round decision over Gaby and knocked him into another line of work.

So far in the campaign—the primary is in March—Gaby Canizales has been sparring, throwing safe jabs like “I want to bring honesty and respect to the department” and “It will give me a chance to help people.” But if the going gets tough, Gaby knows not to pull his punches. Says the former world champion, “My boxing could help a lot in my law enforcement goals.”

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