Julio Cesar Chavez, a life and career like no other

December 10, 2010 No Comments

 

At 464 West Main Street in El Cajon, CA, there’s an auto dealership bearing the name, Julio Cesar Chavez Auto Group. It wasn’t too long ago this same dealership was just hanging on, another victim of the hard times.


 

Like the big New York banks and other troubled sectors of our economy, the dealership needed an insertion of funds to revitalize the dealership. Along comes the former champ and $80,000 gets poured into the business. The struggling dealership is now back up on its feet. The building’s brand new showroom is like night and day in comparison to the way it was a year ago and the inventory is now churning.

Is there any wonder? The very name, Julio Cesar Chavez is synonymous with everything that is certain, reliable and honor driven. It only makes sense for car buyers and business people to align themselves with such a man of high character. For me, Chavez has been one of the stars that has never failed to shine.  As time passes it behooves us boxing historians to remind you younger pups of who these great athletes were and still are. At least until Hollywood’s version appears on the silver screen.

When it comes to naming the heroes of Mexico, Julio César Chávez has to be near the top of the list. His performance in the boxing ring exemplified what is known as “being a true warrior.” When he fought, the businesses in Mexico would often close their doors and TV networks would garner the highest ratings. His light welterweight title bout on February 20, 1993 against Greg Haugen in Mexico City drew the largest crowd ever to attend a boxing match when 132,247 patrons paid to see them fight at Estadio Azteca.

Julio Cesar Chavez Gonzalez was born on July 12, 1962 in Ciudad Obregon, Mexico. At the time, his father, Rodolfo Chavez, worked for the railroad, and young Julio, along with his five sisters and four brothers lived in an abandoned railroad car.

He began boxing as an amateur at the age of sixteen and after 14 wins entered a tournament in Mexico City. He suffered his first and only loss in that tournament.

After deciding to turn pro, he got his pro career off to a good start on February 5, 1980 by knocking out Andres Felix in the sixth round. After his debut, he fought on average once a month and within three years had 37 bouts (37 wins) under his belt.

He then caught the eye of promoter Don King and fought on the undercard of the Edwin Rosario-Jose Luis Ramirez fight. On this Don King-promoted card, Chavez beat Javier Fragoso, a fourth round KO. After a few more U.S. televised fights, Chavez earned a shot at the WBC super featherweight title which had been vacated by Hector Camacho. On September 13, 1984, he stopped Mario Martinez in the eighth round to gain his first of five championship belts.

Chavez held the super featherweight title for three years and then moved up in weight to take on Edwin Rosario. In their November 21, 1987 meeting, Chavez stopped Rosario in the 11th round to win the WBA lightweight title. Eleven months later he added the WBC version to his resume by defeating Jose Luis Ramirez. On May 13th of the following year he stopped Roger Mayweather in the 10th round to win the Light welterweight title.

Next came a four year and eight month stretch of hard fought title defenses against guys like Sammy Fuentes, Alberto de las Mercedes Cortes, Meldrick Taylor, Kyung-Duk Ahn, John Duplessis, Lonnie Smith, Angel Hernandez, Frankie Mitchell, Hector Camacho, Greg Haugen, Terrence Alli, Pernell Whitaker and Andy Holligan.

From that first fight on February 5, 1980, until losing a split decision to Frankie Randall on January 29, 1994, he had strung together an amazing 90 straight fights without a loss, which today stands as the most decorated undefeated streak in boxing.

On May 7, 1994, Chavez revenged that loss to Randall and went on to win seven straight over the next four years. On June 7, 1996, at the age of 34, Chavez faced Oscar De La Hoya who was 11 years his junior. In the fourth round Chavez received a nasty cut that caused the fight doctor to stop the fight. Chavez continued to fight for nine additional years and had a record of 11-4-1. He ended his career with a record of 107 wins, six losses, 2 draws, with 86 KOs.

After retiring, Chavez took even more interest in helping his two oldest sons develop in the sport. Julio César Chávez, Jr. now has a record of 41-0-1, with 30 KOs and his younger brother Omar has a record of 24-0-1, with 17 KOs.

Chavez, senior, has always had this ability to relate to people and break down those traditional barriers of economic status which you often see in countries like Mexico. And yet, his celebrity status has been compared to that of Muhammad Ali in the U. S., Pelé in Brazil and Manny Pacquiao in the Philippines. His unbelievable work ethic, Mexican pride and attitude, have made him the “People’s Champion.” He’s somebody we can all look up to.

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