Hector Camacho’s life was so chaotic it almost defies description

November 25, 2012 No Comments

Certainly one of the highlights of his career was the night both Hector Camacho Sr. and his son Hector Camacho Jr. won their bouts during Mucho Macho Madness at the Level Club in Miami, Florida on February 3, 2001. Photo: Ezra Shaw/ALLSPORT

On Saturday, November 24, 2012, at the Central Medical Administration Building in Puerto Rico, the doctors attending Hector Camacho removed him from life support after receiving the okay from his family. The former boxing champion never regained consciousness after at least one gunman crept up to his friend’s car in a darkened parking lot and opened fire.

The local police go over the crime scene looking for any clues to establish who committed this horrendous act.

According to newspaper reports: The 50-year-old Camacho was shot Tuesday night as he and Adrian Mojica Moreno sat in Moreno’s Ford Mustang outside a bar. Moreno was killed instantly. Camacho held on for an additional four days. Police officers found nine small bags of cocaine in Moreno’s pocket and a 10th bag open inside the car.

Even with their fighting expertise, a boxer or mixed martial artist has no chance against a cowardly gunman. Perhaps in time, we’ll learn of the circumstances that led Camacho and Moreno to be in this position. From what we now know, no one had a gun to their heads telling them they had to go into that neighborhood. They chose their route and since there was no money taken, the merchandise (the cocaine) went untouched, this killing was not done by accident, not a random shooting or robbery, the victims must have had enemies that set out to kill them. When you’ve been using illegal drugs on and off for 20 plus years, it’s a miracle this travesty didn’t occur a lot sooner.

Throughout this discourse remember one thing, despite all the trouble in his personal life, Hector “Macho” Camacho always gave his best in the ring. The following characterizations offered by his peers vary and at times are contradictory. It’s obvious, the man was many things to many people.

“I lived in Puerto Rico for 22 years and it’s sad to see that most all of the champions that came out of this country ended in drugs or indigent,” commented Andre Rheaume. “Wilfredo Gomez, Esteban De Jesus, Edwin Rosario, Wilfredo Benitez and more. The only one who stayed clean is Tito Trinidad and that’s thanks to his father.”

Camacho was born in Bayamon, a city within the San Juan, Puerto Rico metropolitan area, but grew up in New York’s Spanish Harlem. After repeatedly getting into trouble, he ended in a detention center at the age of 15.

How did he get involved in boxing? Everyone in Puerto Rico has an interest. It’s their number one sport. Having produced more amateur and professional world champions than any other sport in its history, Puerto Rico ranks third worldwide between countries with most boxing world champions and is the only place to have champions accredited in all the current boxing divisions, a number which places it in the global lead in terms of champions per capita. 

“I think Camacho was a great athlete, and if he stayed on the straight and narrow, he could have been, pound-for-pound, one of the best fighters in the world,” said Freddie Roach, who lost a 10 round decision to Camacho in 1985.

While some feel he was one of the best boxers of all time, others have called him a bum who wasted his talent. His storied amateur career began with the Sub-Novice 112 pound title and continued on until he had won three New York State Golden Gloves titles.

Steve Tannenbaum, a friend and former boxing agent for Camacho, said he idolized Camacho as a boxer. “He is one of the greatest small fighters that I have ever seen.”

Hector Camacho delivers another winning blow to the head of Roberto Duran during their Camacho versus Duran bout at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, N.J. on July 22, 1996. Photo: Al Bello/Allsport

Referee Joe Cortez begins to count out Sugar Ray Leonard during a bout against Hector ‘Macho’ Camacho in Atlantic City, New Jersey on March 1, 1997. Camacho won the fight with a TKO in the fifth round. Photo: Al Bello /Allsport

Julio Cesar Chavez lands a straight right on Hector Camacho during a bout at the Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 12, 1992. Chavez won. Photo: Holly Stein /Allsport

Felix Trinidad throws a punch at Hector Camacho during a fight in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 29, 1994. Trinidad won in the 12th round. Photo: Al Bello/Allsport

As a professional Camacho (79-6-3, 38 KOs) won super lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight world titles in the ’80s and fought high-profile bouts against such notables as Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar de la Hoya, Roberto Duran, Greg Haugen, Sugar Ray Leonard, Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini, Felix Trinidad, and Vinny Pazienza.

Thanks to Francisco Alvarado of the Banana Republican we can look back at Camacho’s out of the ring exploits chronologically during his prime:

February 2, 1988: Clewiston, Fla. police officers arrest Camacho for aggravated assault after a teenager accused him of pulling a gun on him. While waiting to get booked, an officer spotted him trying to hide a small plastic bag of cocaine in his underwear. He was then charged with coke possession.

March 15, 1989: Camacho lost control of his Lotus sports car while driving at excessive speeds on a Clewiston road and slamming into a palm tree.

October 13, 1991: Ft. Meyers police arrest Camacho for driving with a suspended driver’s license after pulling him over for driving too slow in his Ferrari while a woman sat on his lap.

November 5, 1992: Camacho ran out of the Miami International Airport Hilton’s lobby being chased by a pair of county police officers who saw him carrying a small bag of marijuana. He was later charged with possession, disorderly conduct and three counts of battery on a police officer.

October 1, 1996: Camacho and his then-18-year-old son Hector Jr., became the third father and son tandem in boxing history to fight and win on the same fight card.

August 11, 1998: Camacho won the IBC junior-middleweight title over Tony Menefee after entering the ring as a masked tiger in a hooded cape and fringed loincloth trunks.

January 20, 2001: Camacho was booked into an Indian River County Jail after being picked up on warrants for burglary and failure to pay child support. His ex-wife called the police after he made an unannounced visit to her Orlando home to see their children, violating a restraining order she had against him.

Jon Saraceno of USA TODAY Sports added some gems after interviewing John Russell who began training Camacho in the mid-’90s. Russell said Camacho loved to drive “super-fast,” and had a terrifying habit of passing cars on the right, on the berm. He’d always pat me on the leg and say, ‘Relax, relax,’ then he’d fly around someone on the right.’ They would be freaking out. Camacho once bragged about wrecking a Lotus, a Ferrari, a Lamborghini and a Corvette during his lifetime — also a regular old Jeep, but who cares when you’re destroying exotics? In pure Macho logic he said, “As long as I have a license, I’ll keep crashing cars. That’s how you become a great driver.”

My last run-in with Camacho was in January 1990 while working for Cox Communications. Both Camacho and Pazienza had come to our headquarters on Federal Boulevard in San Diego to promote their light welterweight title fight to be aired on Cox Pay-Per-View. At their press conference I made a suggestion to Pazienza that he should conserve his energy, stand in the center of the ring and not chase after the rabbit.”

Seconds later Camacho was up on the table shouting he wanted a piece of me. The well orchestrated feint had members of his entourage holding him back and everyone enjoying his antics. At the time, I was fearful I might lose my job.

After the Press Conference, Pazienza came over and gave me a glossy photo on which he wrote, “Thanks for your input, if I need someone in my corner, I hope you’re available.”

Camacho won that close fight. What was more important, his pre-fight dramatics made certain there were a ton of people watching.

While the promoters reaped the benefits from Camacho’s craziness, being their high wire act, a barker, the peacock with a gimmick, some saw his schtick as smart-alecky behavior and thought he was a lippy, impudent street thug.

An example of Camacho’s display of disrespect occurred at a pre-fight press conference when the other boxer’s manager, Lou Duva, was speaking at the podium. Camacho got up, rudely interrupted, and tried to shove Duva so he couldn’t speak into the microphone. Lou told Hector, “Don’t touch me kid, I’m a superstar.” Laughing, Camacho leaned forward and answered, “Yeah, you’re a superstar, your Fred Flintstone!”

Randy Gordon, the former editor of The Ring Magazine and now with Bleacher Report once said, “Camacho has become boxing’s Father of the Flashy Entrance.”

Camacho’s tireless hours spent training paid dividends, but that dedication to his craft never translated over to his home life. He became a father at the age of 16 and turned pro at 18. No doubt he had trouble understanding that love is a commitment, not just an emotion.

We forget all the good people who were there for him throughout his life. Yes, he was a legend in the ring but that legend didn’t have the staying power to go beyond the glory years. His unquenchable need for love and adulation became his ruination.

Others appreciated his Rambo like, gung-ho style; for them he was a champion on a mission. At the beginning of his career he was fearless; at the end he’d become a runner (se había convertido en un conejo).

”Let’s remember him as a good man,” said Ismael Leandry, a longtime friend. ”He was a good father, a good son.”

That comment drew more than a few blasts from the readers who knew Camacho to be a wife beater and a snake in the grass.

After a while Camacho became paranoid, tightfisted, untrusting and had trouble sharing his bounty with his support staff. He started changing trainers the same way a woman changes her hairdresser, with much consternation.

“It was always going to end like this,” said Derrick Jedlicka, a boxing pundit. “Once he ended his boxing career he should have moved on to training or managing, but he got into drug running or at least hanging with people who did. If this was anyone else, we would be saying RIP or happy to see one more drug runner off the street. As a boxer he will be missed, but he picked his life. Hope his son gets a lesson from this.”

In recent years, Camacho divided his time between Puerto Rico and Florida, appearing regularly on Spanish-language television as well as on a reality show called ”Es Macho Time!” on YouTube.

From the ladies came this opinion: he was an extremely handsome man, however, a self-indulgent rogue who never failed to like what he saw in the mirror. The international playboy lived in the beach community of Isla Verde in San Juan.

Throughout his life, Camacho battled with a wide assortment of problems. In 2007, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for the burglary of an appliance store in Mississippi. While arresting him on the burglary charge in January 2005, police also found the drug ecstasy. The judge in the case eventually suspended all but one year of his sentence. Then, after doing some time, he got out but wound up serving an additional two weeks for violating his probation.

As you will recall, his wife filed domestic abuse charges against him twice. That squabble happened before their divorce. Earlier this year, police in Florida charged him with child abuse for allegedly slamming his son to the floor and then stomping on him at his ex-wife’s home.

Puerto Rico’s sports and recreation department director Henry Neumann said a wake for Camacho would start on Tuesday at 11 a.m. local time, at the department’s Nilmarie Santini field in Santurce, Puerto Rico.

The wake will wrap up by early Wednesday, when Camacho’s remains are to be returned to New York where he will be buried, said Betsy Rivera, a coroners’ spokeswoman.

2012 has become a ghastly year for Boxing’s final 10-Counts: Angelo Dundee, Bert Randolph Sugar, Carmen Basilio, Corrie Sanders, Don Fullmer, Emanuel Steward, Enrique Bolanos, Goody Petronelli, Johnny Tapia, Julio Cesar Gonzalez, Lundi Madondile, Michael Dokes, Teófilo Stevenson, Terry Spinks, Tony DeLuca and now Hector Camacho.

Of the 55 deaths in the world of Boxing thus far in 2012, 23 of the 52 died of a violent death; five ring deaths, one gent was stabbed, 8 shot, one suicide, another was hung, one died in a building fire, we think only one drug overdose, and 5 traffic accidents. 

Above are just some of the very colorful outfits that Hector “Macho” Camacho wore on his ring entrance.


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