vasco guipuzcoa: the basque titan! by: hernán ordoñez laguntzailea / assistant: profesor marcelo leybovich   It’s now 50 years since Argentine television’s Titanes en el Ring (Titans in the Ring) series was first shown; it’s a show which has been the centre of Sunday evenings for many generations of boys. Catch contests, probably based on the oldest of all sports: fighting. The fighters (titans) was famous historical figures or popular characters common to many different cultures. The choice of those archetypes was the centre of a rich cocktail, either well or badly mixed, but always ending up face-down.

It was easy to tell which of the two referees –Giardina and William Boo– was just corrupt, and which was evil as well as corrupt (William Boo was English, so just imagine ...) The referees were a mirror image of justice (in an Ulpian sense) and usually used the title “professor”, like Marquez Ermacora. How much would you give to see Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan in a fight, trying to demonstrate how great their power was? It was about time we had an answer to that question. “D’Artagnan and his Musketeers”, “The Prince of Napoles”, “Don Quijote and Sancho Panza”, “Morgan the Pirate” and “Odysseus the Greek”. We watched them and learnt something at the same time: above all, how to defend ourselves from our older cousins’ locks and blows. In the port of Buenos Aires, 20,000 people watched “The Mummy” from Egypt. Not bad, not good ... Terrifying!

Up to there, it was fantastic (in the widest sense of the word). But there was also room for people and groups who had settled in Argentina: We can tell you about the role played by the Sullivans, originally from England. And “Ivanoff the Gypsy” and his beautiful dancers’ sessions, before the fights, were marvellous! And “Chico de Catanzaro” (mamma mia...). And “Tenembraum”, “Otto the German”, “The Comanche Indian”, “Il Bersagliere”, “Jose Luis the Spaniard” and the Argentine Hercules: “Rubén Peucelle”.

His words and his acts were as one. A good man’s face, peaceful and respectable. He wore the typical shirt, belt, white canvas shoes, black hat and wide trousers (rather than the chiripá trousers worn by the Argentine gauchos). He was noble and strong. Very strong. His most lethal, military lock was called Kata Guruma (the same name used in slaughterhouses for the technique they use in the middle of cows’ backs): hold your opponent down, left him up with your strong arms and, quite simply, let him all from that height. “El vasco era una roca (The Basque was a rock)”, was something the great “Karadagián the Armenian” heard more than once. The Basque fighter took sportsmanship to an extreme, using no tricks, and no low blows: he accepted when he lost with good grace and also celebrated his victories humbly. Some people said his real name was Onaindia or Pedro Goiti; others said he was Tintxo Barrako and that he still lives in the Boedo district. The only thing was are sure about is that that titan was Vasco Guipuzcoa. They used to introduce him with that name. And he said he was (and signed as) “El Vasco Guipuzcoa”.