Daughter to claim Garcia's 'Hall' check

- Joaquin M. Henson -

MANILA, Philippines - Maureen Garcia Englehardt, one of two surviving daughters of former world middleweight boxing champion Ceferino Garcia, will claim the P100,000 check and trophy that the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) set aside for the late Biliran fighter’s heirs in line with his posthumous enshrinement in the Sports Hall of Fame.

Englehardt, 69, lives in Brooklyn, New York. She is Garcia’s only daughter with wife Lillian Cruz, an Irish-Filipina. Garcia and Cruz also had a son, Ceferino Jr. They divorced in 1947 after nine years of marriage. Cruz filed for divorce on the basis of cruelty, claiming Garcia struck her and threatened her life.

Garcia remarried and with wife Mary, had a daughter Vicki, now 56 and residing in Los Angeles. Mary died in 1957 at the age of 37. When Garcia visited Manila in 1964, he said his wife was named Catherine, presumably on his third marriage.

The PSC is now awaiting a letter of claim from Maureen. Once the letter is received and the lineage authenticated, the amount of P100,000 in equivalent US dollars will be wired to Maureen’s bank account by the PSC. The trophy will remain in the PSC’s possession until it is picked up by an authorized representative.

What complicated the PSC’s search for Garcia’s heirs was a claim from an alleged grandson in Caloocan. Wilfredo Garcia, 62, submitted documents to the PSC attempting to establish a genetic lineage to the Hall of Famer.

Wilfredo said his late father Ceferino Jr. was born in 1928 to the fighter and Marcosa Salvador. Garcia was then 22. He left Manila to campaign in the US in 1932 and didn’t return until seven years later to defend his world crown against Glen Lee in a Jes Cortez promotion at the Rizal Memorial football stadium. Garcia went back to Manila twice to visit his mother during his retirement in 1950 and 1964.

Wilfredo said his father Ceferino Jr., a plumber, died in 2005.

“My grandmother (Salvador) remarried a certain De Leon when my grandfather left for the US,” said Wilfredo. “My father had little contact with my grandfather. One of my father’s friends, Mang Ben, a seaman, met my grandfather in San Diego and I still have their photo together. It’s the only proof I have of a link with my grandfather.”

Wilfredo’s father was born in Tondo where Garcia lived before leaving for the US so a link is conceivable. Wilfredo was 16 when Garcia visited Manila in 1964 but said he has no recollection of meeting his grandfather.

Because of inheritance laws, Wilfredo said he will pose no objection to the oldest surviving daughter receiving the check and trophy.

“I just hope that someday, my grandfather’s daughters in the US also recognize his family in the Philippines,” said Wilfredo. “I know my grandfather once tried to bring my father to the US. My grandmother is dead and she left nothing behind to prove her relationship with my grandfather because she remarried at a young age.”

Wilfredo disputed the report that Garcia was the oldest of six children. “From what I know, my grandfather only had two sisters, Amparo and Mauricia who never married,” said Wilfredo. “Unfortunately, I am not able to prove it because I don’t have birth certificates or even photographs of my grandfather with his sisters.”

Garcia’s US-born son Ceferino Jr. was married to Rosemarie Matranga and had four children, Robin, 48, Andrea, 46, Vincent, 44, and Matthew, 30. It was Vincent who contacted The STAR to provide detailed information on Garcia’s US family. Ceferino Jr. owned a flower shop in New Jersey and died in 2007 at the age of 68.

Vincent lives in New York and works as a design engineer for a pneumatics company in Long Island. Garcia left behind the world championship belt he received in Manila in 1939 to Vincent who also has several photographs of the champion in action. The belt was produced by Crispulo Zamora with the inscriptions “Ceferino Garcia – A token of esteem from Philippine sports fans for winning the world middleweight championship, 1939.”

Garcia died from complications of a kidney ailment at the Kaiser hospital in San Diego in 1981 at the age of 74. He fought as a pro from 1923 to 1945, compiling a record of 102-27-12, with 67 KOs. Garcia qualifies as a Boxing Hall of Famer in the modern category for fighters who retired after 1942 and must have hung up their gloves for at least five years but to this day, has not been enshrined by the Canastota, New York, body which was established in 1990.

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