Podzilla 1985

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hector Camacho dies from injuries

It saddens me to have to wrap up a week where I said goodbye to childhood face Mr. Food with the death of another one of my favorite memories.

Hector "Macho" Camacho was a troubled man outside of the boxing ring. Inside the ring he was a mix of speed, skill, and flair. He was one of my favorite boxers to watch as a child, even though I hated his arrogance and usually just wanted to see someone knock him out.

With a record of 79-6-3, that was something I never got to see with my own eyes.

Camacho was one of the legends of the squared circle. His quick footwork and punching prowess made him a great boxer, but it was his persona that truly made him special. His style and attitude set him apart from his fellow athletes, and the way he carried himself rivaled the most charismatic professional wrestlers. Hell, his Clark Kent inspired hairstyle alone made him a hated man.

My father and I watched a lot of boxing when I was growing up. HBO and Showtime both had some great boxing in the 90's, and we hardly ever missed a bout. "Macho" Camacho is as memorable to me as Roy Jones, Oscar Dela Hoya, Shannon Briggs, and Lennox Lewis, and the rest of the best that were frequently featured on those channels. I more often than not booed him relentlessly, as at the time I didn't quite understand just how important it was to stand out in a crowd. He may not have been the biggest fighter on television, but he made a impression on you every single time he stepped through those ropes.

I haven't watched boxing in years. All of my favorites are retired now, and I haven't kept up with the sport since I moved out of my fathers home.

I knew the moment I saw Camacho's name on TMZ's website that something bad happened, as hardly does a gossip website promote something pleasant. It is in the news nature to be shocking and disheartening. I was surprised to learn his death came from a fatal shooting in Puerto Rico that killed his childhood friend, in which he suffered wounds to his face and neck. He was declared brain dead soon after and went into cardiac arrest when the decision was made to pull him off of life support.

In a way it reminded me of my mother, and how I saw her laying in that hospital bed staring right at me and never reacting. With tubes down her throat she could never speak, and I would never know for sure if she had ever even realized I was there with her. As far as I knew she wasn't brain dead, but something kept her a million miles away from me. Her only moment of recognition came briefly one uneventful night, and I sent Lindsey outside of the hospital room so I could talk to her alone. I told her how I had been afraid for so long that she would die, despite the lies I told my father about how well she was doing. She smiled and nodded and we seemed to connect for the first time since so many months of silent agony.

She died a few days later, and I was too weak to be there with her when she did. Like Camacho, she didn't survive long after the decision was made to pull her off of life support. It is an impossible decision to make, and it is one my father made out of heartache and emotion. I understand why he did it, and I pity him for it, even if I never completely forgave him.

Like my mother, I will remember Camacho for his bigger than life persona and not for how it all came to an end. Boxing has lost one of the true greats, and another one of the happiest memories I have falls away like a leaf from a dying tree.

Hector Camacho was not just a boxer - he was a legend.

And legends are more meaningful than the truths they hide.

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