Casanova, the Mexican gloves with which Rocky Balboa rose to fame

The gloves used in the first fight between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed are proudly Mexican and belong to one of the most traditional houses: Deportes Casanova

On January 1, 1977, as part of the celebrations for the Bicentennial of the Independence of the United States, a fight was held for the world heavyweight title between the champion, Apollo Creed, and an unknown person, who worked as a “thumb-breaker” for the United States. a Philadelphia loan shark, Rocky Balboa.

Everyone, including the undefeated champion, assured that it would be a three-round exhibition, as a favor for Balboa to show himself to the world. The result was unexpected: with a powerful right hand, Balboa dropped Creed in the first round for the first time in his career and took the fight to the points definition, where he got a controversial split decision, which favored the champion.

This story took place in a fictional world, but it became one of the most successful sagas in sports cinema: Rocky, which led Sylvester Stallone to stardom, as a cult movie and a business around the story, since all related articles they have become valuable merchandise.

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One of these items are the gloves used in that fight, which are proudly Mexican and belong to one of the houses that have the longest tradition in world boxing: Sports Casanova.

Rocky Balboa Casanova gloves

Sports VAR spoke with Ámbar González, owner of the brand, who details how her brand appeared in the most iconic boxing movie in the world, perhaps because it is a typical Cinderella story. But in fact, the appearance of the brand is a fortuitous story worthy of a fairy tale:

“What they have told me,” Ámbar explains, “is that the production, headed by Sylvester Stallone, had no budget and they visited several sports stores in Los Angeles to buy equipment for the film. One of them was a distributor of our merchandise. He tried on several gloves and liked ours.

He adds: “At that time nothing happened because Stallone was practically an unknown. The surprise was when the film became a ‘hitazo’, the saga that we know to date was created and we realized that the gloves were there. In fact, we never had any contact with Mr. Stallone, but his election served to relaunch the brand in the international market, which is where our business is”.

In other words, the only thing the factory did from Mexico City was send merchandise to these distributors in the US, where they have, to date, their main market.

“Our merit is that the choice of these gloves was for personal taste. Gloves were tried on and used. This was the only time that happened in the saga because with the success of the saga, in the sequels the gloves that appear were chosen for a sponsorship issue, ”he adds.

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An additional merit is that in Rocky II there are some promotional posters where Rocky Balboa poses again with Casanova gloves, although in the filming the brand that appears is also Mexican, Cleto Reyes. Subsequently, the sponsorships went to US brands: Tuf Wear in parts 3 and 4, Everlast in Rocky Balboa and Grant in Creed 1 and 2, although in the latter they are used by Michael B. Jordan, the star of the film.

Ámbar says that the publicity success of this fortuitous event occurred until the emergence of the internet and social networks, because until then, lovers of the saga paid attention to these details, which were not so obvious before and only knew the factory. Now, Casanova uses the photographs that they have rescued of this type to show off the figures that put on his gloves.

“We are known in many countries for the Rocky movie because they associate the gloves with the movie,” adds Ámbar.

A traditional brand of international prestige

Ámbar González, Sports Casanova

For 1976, Sports Casanova is not a new or improvised era. It was born in 1948 at the initiative of Arturo “Cuyo” Hernández, the most successful manager in national boxing. It currently has a line of boxing products that includes: gloves, masks, shells, pears, governor, sacks, mittens, shorts, gowns, bandages, mouth guards or a sauna suit to sweat.

“My father is Mr. Marcelino González and he has worked with “El Cuyo” since he was 9 years old on the issue of gloves. He stayed with the brand because there was a time when neither “Cuyo” nor his family were interested in continuing, in the 80s. I have been in charge for about 25 years and we are trying to give the brand a new boom. although we currently send gloves to everyone.

– Amber Gonzalez

Not only Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed wore Casanova gloves, other movie figures such as Pepe “El Toro”, played by Pedro Infante, posed for the brand. While in real life, a large number of Mexican champions managed by “Cuyo” used Casanova, such as Rubén “Púas” Olivares, Carlos Zárate, Raúl “Ratón” Macías, Ricardo “Finito” López, Humberto “Chiquita” González or Daniel Zaragoza, who was managed by Ignacio Beristáin.

“Practically all Mexican boxers in the 1960s and 1970s used the gloves. We have photos of everyone with the gloves, because they preferred to use them, but not by imposition, but because they were the ones that best suited them. At that time it was ‘I put on the glove that I like’ and today sponsorship prevails again”, adds the interviewee.

The keys to success

Ámbar assures that her brand is the only one in the world that has an artisanal process to manufacture gloves. “The glove is still manufactured entirely by hand: the cutting of the skin and the latex for the padding, which is also placed by hand. The only machine that touches the glove is the sewing machine. That’s why they keep looking for us, because it’s a completely handmade glove, very handcrafted, which is what fascinates people, especially abroad.”

In addition, he explains that although they have evolved over time, they maintain the same lasts and this allows the manufacture of an ergonomic glove that is easily adjusted when you put your hand in it. “You don’t have to make an effort to make a fist. They are made from cowhide, like all quality gloves. The padding is natural latex of very good quality that absorbs the impact on the hand well and does not damage the boxer so much”.

Even the brand innovated in the design of this important accessory. In the 1960s, Casanova designed an attachment to fix the thumb to the rest of the glove, since before it was loose and caused serious injuries to both the hitter and the receiver.

Due to these characteristics, the owner of Casanova assures that other big brands have approached to absorb the brand and that they are in charge of designing their products.

“About 15 or 17 years ago Mr. Elvis Grant, owner of the Grant brand, came to visit us but we did not accept. We told him no because the brand was our pride and we wanted to continue doing it. Then they came from Title, from Adidas. They look for many brands like ours that manufacture gloves in Mexico because we are a power.”

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To get quality gloves, it is better to look for them directly or in specialized stores, because many brands are sold in department stores and even supermarkets, but as a consequence, they can cause severe injuries to the hands due to their poor quality.

“My glove costs approximately 1,200 pesos and it already depends on the resale how you hold it. Our main distributor is the Sport Jordán store, Mercado Libre and small resellers, the best customers are outside”, he indicates.

custom lines

As a plus in its product, Ámbar explains that Casanova allows you to customize the gloves, from the first pair, something that the big brands only do with the great champions. “Cleto Reyes only sells you red or black and unless you are a world champion, they don’t do anything different for you. We have given the issue of customizing the gloves in terms of color and being able to embroider your name, the logo of your gym or a soccer team”.

“We even handle neon colors: pink, yellow, blue, ‘clown’”… and remember: “A man once came for personalized gloves. He was 1.90m tall, fat, bearded, dark and he asked me for a combination of Mexican pink, pastel pink and another shade of pink, in 18 oz, that is to say for him. This was about 20 years ago. Today pink colors are common everywhere”.


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Casanova, the Mexican gloves with which Rocky Balboa rose to fame


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