Boxing champion Hector Camacho dies at 50; ESPN Classic airs all-day tribute

The way Hector Camacho fought was also the way he lived, and the way he died. Photo: Sugar Ray Leonard and Hector Camacho/AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

SAN DIEGO, November 24, 2012 - Hector “Macho” Camacho cultivated a bad boy personality in the boxing ring. His aggressive, in your face style won him loyal fans in his native Puerto Rico and far beyond. He would lead fans in cheers of “It’s Macho Time!” before his bouts.

But the way he fought was also the way he lived, and the way he died. The former world champion died early Saturday, November 24 in his hometown of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, after being removed from life support by his family. Camacho had been shot in the face after being ambushed in a parking lot while sitting in a car which contained cocaine. He was 50.

“He excited boxing fans around the world with his inimitable style,” promoter Don King told The Associated Press.

Camacho fought professionally for 30 years.  He fought some of the biggest stars of boxing across weight classes and from one era to another, including Sugar Ray Leonard, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Roberto Duran and his ultimate foe, Mexican star Julio Cesar Chavez Senior. 

“Hector was a fighter who brought a lot of excitement to boxing,” said Ed Brophy, executive director of International the Boxing Hall of Fame. “He was a good champion…  Hector surely was an exciting fighter that gave his all to the sport.”

In this 2001 file photo, boxing champ Hector Camacho celebrates after defeating Roberto Duran in their super middleweight National Boxing Association championship fight in Denver. Camacho died Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, after being taken off life support. He was 50. AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File

ESPN Classic will air eleven hours of Camacho fights today in tribute to the champion. The schedule of fights (All times Eastern Time):

2 p.m. 1998 Camacho vs. Ken Sigurani
3 p.m. 1999 Camacho vs. Patrick Goossen
4 p.m. 1991 Camacho vs. Greg Haugen I
5 p.m. 1991 Camacho vs. Greg Haugen II
6 p.m. 1990 Camacho vs. Vinny Pazienza
7 p.m. 1989 Camacho vs. Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini
8 p.m. 1999 Camacho vs. Patrick Goossen
9 p.m. 1998 Camacho vs. Ken Sigurani
10 p.m. 1991 Camacho vs. Greg Haugen II
11 p.m. 1990 Camacho vs. Vinny Pazienza

Camacho was a successful amateur before turning professional. He won his first title in 1983 at super featherweight. He moved up to win a lightweight title in 1985.

His most well known fight was his loss to Julio Caesar Chavez Senior 20 years ago in 1992 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Chavez won a unanimous decision, but Camacho was commended for his courage. Chavez said Camacho didn’t make it easy for him.

“Even though people say I beat him easily, it wasn’t that way,” Chavez told Mexico’s ESPN-Radio Formula this week. “He was a very fast fighter, he faced everything and it was very hard for me.”

“He revolutionized boxing, Chavez said. “It’s a shame he got mixed up in so many problems.”

In this 1997, photo provided by Las Vegas News Bureau, Hector Camacho, left, fights Oscar De La Hoya in a boxing match at Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Camacho died Saturday, November 24 at age 50 after his family removed him from life support. A shooting left the former boxing champion’s fans mourning the loss of a dynamic and often troubled athlete. AP Photo/Las Vegas News Bureau, Darrin Bush

Camacho then lost to Felix Trinidad, and Oscar De La Hoya. In 1997, Camacho ended Sugar Ray Leonard’s attempt at a comeback with a fifth-round knockout. It was Camacho’s last big victory.

Camacho’s family moved to New York shortly after he was born. Camacho landed in jail as a teenager before turning to boxing, which has provided an outlet for many troubled youth. Though he stayed out of trouble while at the height of his boxing career, he struggled with substance abuse and other problems after the big fights ended. He was sentenced to prison for burglary in Mississippi, in 2007, but his sentence was reduced and he served probation.

Camacho also had domestic violence problems with his former wife, Amy, who obtained a restraining order against him in 1998, alleging he made threats against her.

Camacho never regained consciousness after at least at least one gunman crept up to the car in a darkened parking lot and opened fire. No arrests and have been made, and authorities have not revealed many details beyond the facts that police found cocaine in the car and that the boxer and the friend with him who was killed at the scene, had no idea the attack was coming.

Survivors include his mother; three sisters, Raquel, Estrella and Ester; a brother, Felix; and four sons, Hector Jr., Taylor, Christian and Justin.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.


Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities at” when quoting from or linking to this story.  



Copyright © 2012 by Falcon Valley Group


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Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.


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