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Sports lost a colorful character and former boxing champion when Hector Macho Camacho died yesterday November 24, 2012 after being shot in the head in Puerto Rico. He was from the streets and died in the streets - Azalia_N photo






James Loving/National Radio Text Service


Sports lost a colorful character and former boxing champion when Hector Macho Camacho died yesterday November 24, 2012 after being shot in the head in Puerto Rico. He was from the streets and died in the streets


Sunday November 25, 2012


The unfortunate death of Hector 'The Macho Man' Camacho brings back memories of our meeting when I was in the limousine business. At that time 1981-84 our company was the largest in the world based at the Beverly Hills Hotel. We had the top clients including accounts with major film and television companies as well as clients in royalty and government and a most memorable experience with Madonna and Michael Jackson who was not a regular client. With that profile we were very particular who we drove and where we sent our expensive equipment.

One call I'll never forget was to pick up Hector Camacho in Bell, California. Due to theft concerns not from Camacho but a call from any area that was known for a high crime rate we would usually would turn the job down. The other criterion to accept the job was if you were a regular client who we had on the books and we credited to pay when billed. Camacho was not in either category thus this was a CASH PAY pick-up from someone that was known but we had never done business with.

This is a grey area we normally would not accept. After considerable thought by the powers that be decided to do the job I was selected for the assignment. Bell was an area I was a bit familiar with as when I was a musician I worked a club in Norwalk which was in that area. Driving a then $50,000 vehicle in that area at that time could cost you your life and the theft of the vehicle. That was the companies concern and the risk.

I picked up the Macho Man at a seedy white colored motel This was about 1982/83 after he had won NABF Super Featherweight Championship May 21, 1982 against Rojas Refugio Rojas raising his record to 15-0. For the timeline that is certain since I was a fairly new and considered a rookie chauffeur who had to take the dirty and risky jobs to earn my stripes. As a sports fan I knew who he was but hadn't seen him fight on TV more than once or twice.

The Macho Man got into the car (after I opened his door) with a lady friend. I don't know what their relationship was but recall her having very dark skin and they spoke Spanish. The strange thing about this trip is it's the chauffeur's responsibility to PROTECT the client. This is more of a mental application in decision making and not physical. Occasionally as with Michael Jackson it is necessary to get physical as a barrier to keep paparazzi photographers hands off of him. To protect a boxing champion of the world seemed a bit strange.

When he gave me driving instructions as to where to go he flashed a silver gun with a white handle. It was short but the caliber was more than a 22 or 25 which I owned but I don't' know what it was except being white and silver. Why show me the gun was a mystery but he had a smile on his face and my being from the streets seeing a gun was no big thing. Being threatened was no big thing as it is a daily occurrence in my neighborhood but the Macho Man was in a playful mood and not threatening given the sparkle in his eyes. He eased up and became friendlier as he recognized my New York/East Coast accent. To me he was like someone I grew up with or like the Puerto Rican friends I hung out with at the Paramount pool hall. Basically I felt he was showing off. It wasn't as if he couldn't physically kick my ass.

We went to our destination and that was it. Some jobs you wait for the client and may be with them for 8 to 14 hours. This was a simple pick up and drop plus GET THE MONEY.

Following that experience I paid more attention to the Macho Man. He was colorful when he entered the ring wearing gaudy costumes. You could never anticipate what he would do next. He was always a character BUT he could fight. During his 30-year career, Camacho was known for his quickness in the ring and his flamboyant style. He compiled a career record of Total fights 88, Wins 79, Wins by KO 45, Losses 6, Draws 3, No contests 0.

Camacho held major championships in the super featherweight, lightweight and junior lightweight divisions, going on to win lesser titles in four more weight classes, becoming the first boxer to be recognized as a septuple champion.

Some of his most notable fights included defeating Panama's Roberto Durán twice, and knocking out Sugar Ray Leonard, sending Leonard into permanent retirement. He also fought against Julio César Chávez, Félix Trinidad, and Oscar de la Hoya, among others.

Over the years Camacho has had his run-ins with the law and experienced problems with drugs. He was one that never forgot his roots and returned to his old haunts which led to his death.

On November 20, 2012, Camacho was shot in the jaw and seriously wounded while sitting in a car outside a bar in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. The driver, a childhood friend, was killed in the shooting. Although doctors at the Rio Piedras Medical Center in San Juan believed that Camacho would recover, they declared him brain dead after he suffered a cardiac arrest early the following morning. Camacho died yesterday November 24, 2012 after his mother requested that doctors remove him from life support at the young age of 50.

Yes Camacho had his problems but from my experience I'll remember him as a guy from the hood that made me smile. The Macho Man and his colorful antics will be missed.


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