Jose "Chegui" Torres, a former light heavyweight world champion and Olympic silver medalist, died Monday, his widow said. He was 72.
Torres won the light heavyweight title in 1965 by stopping Willie Pastrano at Madison Square Garden in New York. He made three title defenses before losing a close decision to Dick Tiger in 1966. He finished with a record of 41-3-1, with 29 knockouts.
The mayor of Torres' hometown of Ponce, on the Puerto Rico's southern coast, declared three days of mourning and ordered flags be flown at half-mast.
"Puerto Rico has lost a great Puerto Rican, a very valiant person who aside from being a great athlete, was a great human being," David Bernier, president of the U.S. territory's Olympic committee, told radio station WKAQ.
Torres began fighting when he joined the U.S. Army as a teenager and won a silver medal as a light middleweight at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics while competing for the United States. He lost the title bout to Hungary's Laszlo Papp.
After retiring in 1969, he became a representative of New York's Puerto Rican community, chaired the New York State Athletic Commission in the 1980s and served as supervisor for the World Boxing Organization. He also wrote two biographies — "Sting Like a Bee" on Muhammad Ali and "Fire and Fear" on Mike Tyson.
"Through his boxing, writing and speaking out on the important issues of our time, Jose was an inspiration to millions of people across the country and around the world," New York Gov. David Paterson said in a prepared statement, noting Torres trained in New York City and was a New York Golden Gloves Champion in the 1950s.
As the first Puerto Rican to serve as commissioner of the state Athletic Commission, Paterson said Torres "was instrumental in strengthening boxing in New York."
Torres was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997.
Torres will be buried Thursday in Ponce.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.