By Rich Mancuso
New York – For three decades Hector Camacho made us talk when he laced up the gloves and went in the ring. The past few years, Camacho was discussed more about his actions outside a ring, and in the past few days we prayed as he was declared brain dead.
Four days ago in the drug torn city of Bayamon Puerto Rico, the 50-year old Camacho, was in the passenger seat of a car. His friend was shot and killed as a drug related incident is the probable cause. Reportedly 10-ounces of cocaine were found in the vehicle outside a bar.
Camacho may have been an innocent bystander, and a victim, regardless he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Outside the Centro Medico trauma center in San Juan fans and friends held a vigil. Early Saturday morning, with family by his side, the last fight was over as Camacho was removed from life support.
His oldest son, Hector Jr. the professional middleweight, said on Friday, “My father is a fighter,” believing there was hope no matter what the medical officials said.
Yet, this was the biggest fight for Hector Camacho, survival after a stellar career. There were always problems with the so-called fast life. Around suspicious characters, drugs, alcohol, and domestic violence, Camacho was always renowned for what he accomplished in the ring.
A first of the flamboyant fighters, we never knew what to expect from Camacho’s ring attire, to what he said, and how he fought. It was a career of controversy, but never a question when he opposed the biggest stars including Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar de La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Roberto Duran and Julio Cesar Chavez.
He lost to Trinidad, by standards the major boxing star from Puerto Rico, and came up short in his last major title fight to the welterweight champion, De La Hoya, by unanimous decision in 1997.
It will hardly be remembered, his final fight, a loss to Saul Duran in May 2010. He finished with a record of 79-6-3, which also included a fifth round knockout that stopped the comeback and ended the career of Leonard.
When the camera was on, when the reporter approached it was always, “Its Macho Time.” Getting the answer was difficult because Camacho was the showman. However, there was always that stigma of being around the wrong crowd of friends and people.
“Because my Dad liked to have a good time did not make him a bad person,” said Camacho Jr. to this writer earlier this year. Unfortunately the trouble out of the ring, of numerous arrests, and the drugs and alcohol will be a part of the legacy.
Early Saturday morning, a second heart attack was the ending when a decision was made to end life support. Camacho Jr. was in denial until the final moments. He had arrived in Puerto Rico Friday night from Kansas City where he was training for his next fight December 13th in Atlanta Georgia.
“The staff of boxerspomsors.com mourns the loss of a true champion to his family and friends. We truly believe boxing will never see the likes of a Hector Camacho ever again,” said Bobby Sanchez a part of the sponsorship and corporate team of Camacho Jr.
Though we will always remember the flamboyance and the craft Camacho was known for, there is also no denying that those fast hands and stardom propelled him from a troubled young man to championship fame.
The sport of boxing always has a way of taking a troubled kid off the streets and into the spotlight. Some make the best of it and as of last week Camacho was still working on it, becoming more popular with stardom in Florida and Puerto Rico.
He was a regular on Spanish Language television including a variety show “Es macho Time” seen on You Tube.
Yes, this is a sad ending. Many times the sport gets headlines when a champion goes down like this. But we will never forget the great highlights and how Hector Camacho made the boxing fan smile as he went for the finish.
Rest in Peace Champ!