Alfonso Teofilo Brown (1902-1951), better known as Panama Al Brown was a bantamweight boxer from Panama who made history by becoming boxing's first hispanic world champion. Brown was a native of the city of Colon.
Brown fought during the early 20th century, a period in which boxing records were not well kept. He is said to have fought professionally 164 times.
His first fight took place on March 19, 1922, when he beat Jose Moreno by a decision in six at Colon. By his seventh fight, December 12 of that same year, he beat Sailor Patchett by a fifteen round decision, to earn the Ithsmus Flyweight title. On September 22, 1923, he had his first fight abroad, drawing (tying) in four rounds with Johnny Breslin, at New York.
Brown began campaigning extensively across the United States before he suffered his first loss, at the hands of Jimmy Russo, December 6 of 1924, by decision in twelve. He would later avenge that defeat, and he beat Davey Abad and Willie LaMorte before being disqualified in the first round against Frankie Murray, on July 11 of 1926. Despite that setback, he kept on campaigning successfully and, on November 10 of that year, he knocked out Antoine Merlo in his Paris debut.
Panama Al Brown enjoyed Paris so much that he decided to stay there for the rest of his life. He became a hugely popular boxer in France. Over the next three years, he beat several fighters there, including former world champions Eugene Criqui and Andre Routis.
An interesting case happened when he fought Gustav Humery, on January 29 of 1929. Brown and Humery had previously agreed that they would not salute by touching gloves before the fight, and when the bell rang, Brown struck quick, breaking Humery's jaw with his first punch and sending him to the floor. With the referee's count of ten seconds, the fight lasted a total of fifteen seconds, one of the quickest knockouts in boxing history.
Brown made history on June 18 of the same year, when he beat Gregorio Vidal by a fifteen round decision to win the vacant world's Bantamweight title back at New York, becoming the first hispanic world champion in history.
Brown became a national idol in Panama, and an instant celebrity almost everywhere else in Latin America after his win. Suffice to say, magazines such as The Ring En Espanol were talking about his achievement sixty years after Brown made history.
Soon after winning the title, he lost a ten round, non title fight to Bat Battalino, another legendary boxer.
Brown retained his title nine times and had countless other fights before a rematch with Hummey that ended in disaster: On May 17, 1934, Brown was disqualified in round six at Paris for using illegal tactics. A riot was formed and Brown suffered several broken bones and sent into semi-unconsciousness by fans before the police could help him. Twenty minutes later, the locale where the rematch was held had almost been entirely destroyed.
For his next title defense, on November 1 of the same year, he travelled to Tunis, Tunisia, where his opponent, Victor Perez, was counted out in round ten while on the floor, claiming that Panama Al had hit him with an illegal blow.
On June 1, 1935, he lost the title to Baltazar Sangchili of Italy, by a fifteen round decision, at Valencia, Spain. They had a rematch, on March 4 of 1938, with Brown avenging his earlier loss with a fifteen round decision, but by then, Sixto Escobar of Puerto Rico had already taken the world Bantamweight championship.
Panama Al Brown went on fighting until 1942, challenging unsuccessfully for the Panamanian Featherweight title on September 30, 1942, when he drew with Leocadio Torres, but retiring as a winner, defeating Kid Fortune by a decision in ten rounds on December 4 of the same year.
After his death, writer Eduardo Arroyo wrote a biography about Panama Al, titled Panama Al Brown, 1902-1951.
Panama Al Brown's final record is believed to have been 133 wins, 18 defeats and 13 draws, with 60 knockouts, placing him in the exclusive list of boxers who have won 50 or more fights by knockout.
He is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame.