Hector “Macho” Camacho, a former three-division boxing champion who had 88 professional fights against a who’s who of legendary opponents stretching from Ray Mancini (whom he defeated in 1989) to Oscar De La Hoya (who beat him by decision in 1997), has died. He was 50.
Camacho was pronounced dead Saturday, after being shot in the head four days earlier while seated in a car outside a bar in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. He was taken off life support after going into cardiac arrest early Saturday, Dr. Ernesto Torres, director of the Centro Medico trauma center in Puerto Rico, told the Associated Press.
Another man in the car, who had nine bags of cocaine in his possession, was also shot and immediately declared dead, the AP reported.
Camacho, known for wearing outlandish trunks ranging from a leopard loin cloth to others adorned with lights or tassels, well understood the importance of selling a fight and employing some mental warfare.
Before fighting Mancini, he said, “I never did nothing to the character. How can he dislike a good-looking guy like me? It’s jealousy. He can’t even be in the same room with me because he knows he can’t beat me mouth-to-mouth.”
Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray once assessed the crowd-pleasing disparity between De La Hoya and Camacho like this:
“Oscar was winning a gold medal for his country, Macho was stealing one for himself. Oscar plays golf, Macho plays craps. He was a hyperactive child, and he’s a hyperactive adult.
“He has a positive flair for rubbing people the wrong way, doing exactly what nobody wants. For instance, in his last fight, he committed the unpardonable sin of beating up Sugar Ray Leonard, no less. That’s about as endearing to the public as burning the flag.”
Camacho’s theatrics were combined with an admirable desire to take on the best opponents possible. He faced the likes of Freddie Roach, Cornelius Boza Edwards, Rafael “Bazooka” Limon, Felix Trinidad, Roberto Duran and Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. His overall record was 79-6-3.