Joe Cantada – Smokin’ Joe Cantada
Joe Cantada (Jose Maria Javier Cantada), also known as Smokin’ Joe Cantada,
Joe Cantada (Jose Maria Javier Cantada), also known as Smokin’ Joe Cantada, was a sportscaster, TV host, and singer. He was born in Manila on 15 March 1942. He died on 22 March 1992. He was the son of Ambrosio Cantada and Angelina Javier. He was married to Ma. Bella Macam, with whom he had a son. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Ateneo de Manila University in 1962.
Cantada began his broadcasting career in 1962 on DZHP (now DZXL) where he hosted the musical program The Joe Cantada Show. In the 30 years he was in broadcasting, he hosted other programs both on radio and television, including news programs, the evening entertainment talk show Late Late Show on IBC Channel 13 in the late 1960s, and the public service talk show Damayan in the late 1970s, which he co-hosted with Rosa Rosal. He penned newspaper columns, including a weekly entertainment review column for the Graphic in the 1960s, and recorded a musical album. He is best remembered, however, as a sportscaster. As a former boxer and track-and-field athlete, Cantada found his transition from news to sports effortless, even as he continued to host other programs.
He first became famous for his action-packed and colorful radio accounts of the summer cycling Tour of Luzon beginning in the 1960s. Listeners followed the race closely, eager to find out the latest results and hear the struggles of cyclists to overcome the treacherous roads and distances. He gave audiences blow-by-blow accounts of the silver-medal finish of Filipino boxer Anthony Villanueva who lost to Russian Stanislav Stepahskin in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the Flash Elorde–Yoshiaki Numata boxing bout in Tokyo in 1966, and the Asian Games from the 1960s to the 1980s. In the 1970s, he anchored the TV boxing shows Fistorama and In This Corner.
Cantada’s career gained international stature when he was the ring announcer for the Muhammad Ali–Joe Frazier fight dubbed Thrilla in Manila at the Araneta Coliseum. His stirring and buoyant introductions of the legendary boxers set the stage appropriately for the final showdown of the two heavyweight champions.
In 1982, Cantada became senior anchorman of the Vintage Sports coverage of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) games. Along with fellow senior announcer Pinggoy Pengson, he worked with analysts Andy Jao, Joaqui Trillo, Quinito Henson, and others to put together a more incisive TV presentation of the popular basketball league. The emphasis was on game insights and analysis, and Cantada was perceived by budding sportscasters and sports analysts as a generous anchorman, allowing them to shine in the coverage.
For nine years, until he fell ill in 1991, the PBA’s opening and annual awards ceremonies were Cantada’s staple performances, marked by his baritone voice, witty remarks, lively interaction with players and league personalities, his command of language and colorful descriptions of the games while deftly weaving references to literature and popular culture into his sports accounts.