Camacho, exciting title fighter, dies at 50
Updated 9:05 pm, Saturday, November 24, 2012
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Hector "Macho" Camacho was a brash fighter with a mean jab and an aggressive style, launching himself furiously against some of the biggest names in boxing. And his bad-boy persona was not entirely an act, with a history of legal scrapes that began in his teens and continued throughout his life.
The man who once starred at the pinnacle of boxing, winning several world titles, died Saturday, three days after being ambushed in a parking lot in the Puerto Rican town of Bayamon where he was born. Packets of cocaine were found were found in the car in which he was shot.
Camacho, 50, left behind a reputation for flamboyance - leading fans in cheers of "It's Macho time!" before fights - and for fearsome skills as one of the top fighters of his generation.
"He excited boxing fans around the world with his inimitable style," promoter Don King said.
Camacho fought professionally for three decades, from his humble debut against David Brown at New York's Felt Forum in 1980 to an equally forgettable swansong against Saul Duran in Kissimmee, Fla., in 2010.
"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."
Camacho's family moved to New York when he was young and he grew up in Spanish Harlem, which at the time was rife with crime.
Camacho landed in jail as a teenager before turning to boxing, which for many kids in his neighborhood provided an outlet for their aggression.
"This is something I've done all my life, you know?" Camacho said after a workout in 2010. "A couple years back, when I was doing it, I was still enjoying it. The competition, to see myself perform. I know I'm at the age that some people can't do this no more."
Former featherweight champion Juan Laporte, a friend since childhood, described Camacho as "like a little brother who was always getting into trouble," but otherwise combined a friendly nature with a powerful jab.
"He's a good human being, a good-hearted person," Laporte said. "A lot of people think of him as a cocky person but that was his motto … Inside he was just a kid looking for something."
Missing a mentor
Laporte lamented that Camacho never found a mentor to guide him outside the boxing ring.
"The people around him didn't have the guts or strength to lead him in the right direction," Laporte said. "There was no one strong enough to put a hand on his shoulder and tell him how to do it."