The ongoing comeback story of Edgar Santana, a Puerto Rican boxing icon from Spanish Harlem.
Once a hair cutter—Santana still owns one of New York's great barbershops on 106th Street—he became a top-ranked junior welterweight contender. Powerful, gutsy and handsome, he was promoted as "The Pride of Spanish Harlem" during a torrid streak towards a title shot.
Then one morning in July of 2008, the wheels came off. Santana was implicated in a cocaine trafficking operation out of Puerto Rico. It was less than two weeks before his feature bout on ESPN. The NY Daily News ran photos of Edgar hand-cuffed, wearing a t-shirt bearing the work of legendary street artist James de la Vega: "The pressure of survival in the big city will make you lose sight of your dream…hang in there."
His personal reputation tarnished, his boxing career seemingly over, Edgar Santana, as they say in the boxing world, simply went away.
When Santana's role proved to be negligible, he was released in 2009. His personal affairs in order, Santana has returned to the boxing ring, winning consecutive bouts via overwhelming knockouts. He is now the the NABA Junior Welterweight champion.
Working with Brooklyn boxing legend Leon "The Cat" Taylor, who trains fighters from a modest gym in Manhattan. Sports Illustrated has called Taylor "the greatest fighter never known," referring to a career that had been infamously lost during brutal years on the street. Leon's devotion and boxing IQ added technique and precision to Santana's lead-fisted arsenal, which historically relied on strength and power.
The remarkable lives of Edgar Santana and The Cat may have intersected at a crucial moment, when bumpy roads become smooth enough to build momentum. Santana's most recent win crowned him as the NABA champion, perhaps paving the way to a world title bout...close