By Richard E. Baker on October 15, 2020
Ali was never lonesome. That did not stop him from marrying. (Photo: Richard E. Baker)
Anyone who knows the history of Jimmy Wilde also knows of the legendary relationship between him and his wife Elizabeth. Counting boxing booth fights, Wilde racked up over 900 wins with only three understandable loses. Elizabeth helped him achieve that incredible record. Neither of them weighed over 100 pounds, yet they were mighty. Wilde had remarkable knockout skills and often fought well over his weight. He even knocked out a future British heavyweight champion, which says something about his punching ability, or British heavyweights. Elizabeth had her own skills and changed boxing for wives forever. Women were not allowed into fights in Britain. When Wilde lost a bid against Tancy Lee for the flyweight title at the National Sporting Club in London (Wilde was suffering from the flu) Elizabeth was barred from entrance. After the fight she barged into the club pushing everyone aside to look after Wilde. She said he would never fight anyplace again unless she was allowed to be there. Since then wives have had a special place ringside.
After Wilde became sick from bad food before a fight, she cooked all his meals before he stepped into the ring. When he could find no training partners, she donned special protective gear and sparred with him. Because Wilde could not fight outside the ring, Elizabeth developed a reputation of knocking about offenders with her umbrella. She was truly a remarkable wife.
Boxers have special relationships with their wives, and wives with their boxers, but not always good relationships. Any celebrity has difficulty with women. Males are deluged with women admirers and fighting them off can be difficult. Some wives understand this. Others do not know the mess they are entering.
Sonny Liston’s wife, Geraldine Chambers, stayed with him until his death. Liston was not known to be monogamous. Geraldine appeared to understand and she claimed that he was a decent man, gentle, kind, and loving. Apparently not everyone found him so loving. She found his dead body in their bedroom, possibly murdered, after returning from visiting family out of town.
Rocky Marciano and his wife, Barbara Cousins, stayed together. Rumor said that they fell out of love not long after the marriage, but she remained loyal to him. He was seldom home, especially after his retirement and they were not often seen together.
Jinkee, Manny Pacquiao’s wife, is another remarkable woman. They met when he was a struggling boxer earning little money. She worked at a cosmetics counter in a department store. They both claim the meeting was love at first sight. She has worked with Pacquiao their entire marriage, has held political office, manages the family, and is generous with the money they have earned. Among other services, they have a foundation that cares for the medical needs of poor children.
Most boxers fall to the wayward side where relationships are involved. Jack Dempsey was married four times. Often finding the right woman takes time. Sandra Hicks divorced Floyd Patterson, not because she no longer loved him, but because he would not quit boxing and she was worried about his health. Patterson’s second wife, Janet Seaquist, was more supportive.
Muhammad Ali was a notorious hound dog, a sexual creature of the first degree. He was never lonesome. That did not stop him from marrying. He went through Sonji Roi, Belinda Boyd, Veronica Porsche, and Yolanda Williams. Yolanda first knew of him when she was 6 years old and claims that she was always in love with him. He just had to get through his other three wives before she had a chance. She took care of him during his most crucial time.
Daisy Delgado, wife of trainer and manager Jose Benavides and stepmother to Jose Jr. and David Benavidez, is an extremely fit, attractive, and energetic woman who can be found most days at the Benavides gym. She has gone beyond being a boxing wife to being a full business partner, trainer, nutritionist, and weight-loss specialist. She is not unlike Elizabeth Wilde and does her best to handle all aspects of boxing to allow time for her husband to concentrate on training the fighters.
Born in Los Angeles she wanted to become a dentist and needed to earn money for college. She landed several small parts in local television ads and started modeling. The money paid for dental school. Because she has always been interested in the human body, she worked out at various gyms to keep her shape. This led to winning a swimsuit competition at a bodybuilding event.
After a long talk with her dentist, she decided to study nutrition. She is a charming and personable woman and enjoys interaction with people. Doing something more people oriented suited her better than staring at tonsils all day and shooing away flies from bad and smelly teeth. She enjoys the beauty of bodies and finds a challenge encouraging people to sculpt the bodies they want. With the exception of John Ruiz, boxers have decent builds. Her brother, Eric, wanted to box and she became attracted to boxing gyms. Boxers always need ways to cut weight. She met Jose when he was working at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym. They were instantly attracted to one another. Jose always hoped for a close family, the kind he never had. She was the person to bring everything together.
Her skill with nutrition and exercise were evident when she helped David Benavides shed 80 pounds and get him ready to begin boxing. She also helped his older brother, Jose Jr., prepare for his interim WBA Super lightweight title fight. “I take a great deal of satisfaction in helping boxers and when I witness them in the ring, I feel a part of me is in the ring with them.”
She and Jose opened a gym Phoenix. Because Jose was always gone with boxers and MMA fighters, Daisy assumed more and more of the gym responsibilities. Soon she was running almost everything except the training. Phoenix was not a good fit for the family. David was running with the wrong crowd. It cost him his title. To help save David, the couple decided to find a safer place to open a gym, one with less drug activity and a place with cleaner air. The family comes above everything else. They chose the Seattle area.
Daisy is another word for energy. She is constantly on the move and almost lives at the gym. She runs the front and back desks, the inventory, handles all the paperwork, all the memberships and payments, is the sales person, and still teaches three weight loss classes and helps train new boxers.
Attending fights and supporting the fighters is a bonus. “I get a front row seat and get to meet many celebrities. The excitement is tremendous.”
The fights give her a chance to really glow. She is a petite and extremely pretty woman with lovely sculpted hands and she likes playing “dress-up” at the fights. “I get to wear pretty dresses and new shoes. I can’t do that at the gym.” At the fights she glides to her seat, often with her sister, like an apparition of Athena, goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare. Athena is often depicted with a helmet and a spear. Daisy never fails to turn heads and more than one admirer has had to visit a chiropractor after having his head snapped around for a quick look at her. Most of the time she is dressed in red sweats, so going to the fights is a special occasion, like attending a ball. Some people fail to look past her beauty and see the competent woman she is. She is what is known as “the whole package.”
“I love being in the front row at fights. I can hear every punch, especially the body punches. They smack and thud and I love the sound.”
The fights bring out the lightning in her, a special electricity that causes her eyes to glow. She feels the fire burning in her chest with every punch. Although she expects their fighters to win, she still looks away when they take too many shots. “It sounds funny. I love the fights, but I don’t like to see boxers hurt.”
After the fights Daisy is back to the gym, back to the everyday work of allowing Jose to train fighters, back to the sweats and hard work. The fancy dresses are stored away along with the shoes. Shakespeare best explains their kind of love:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.