Emerging from the slashing switchblade streets of 1970s Spanish Harlem—not a neighborhood listed in Baedeker—Hector Camacho was one of the brightest young stars of the 1980s. Breathtakingly fast—like a shot from a Widowmaker—this gifted southpaw was all dashing streetpunk flash. Before mirrorball after mirrorball called his number and the yayo refused to let him go, Camacho was considered a lock for true ring greatness. It never happened. Stalled by party hats, battles with promotional fat cats, and a never-ending case of the continental NYPD blues, Camacho was headline news and earned millions, but he never came close to reaching his limitless potential.
Continue reading “SOMETHING WILD: The Night Hector “Macho” Camacho Lost His Mojo”
They met thirty-five years ago under the stars in that neon desert of illusion, Las Vegas, drawn together by hate, cynicism, greed. Mere sports seemed like an afterthought that night. On June 11, 1982, hardscrabble Larry Holmes, whose magnificent bitterness had fueled his rise to the heavyweight championship, met affable Gerry Cooney, young, powerful, Irish, unproven, and feverishly revered. With racism looming over the promotion from the day it first kicked off, Holmes-Cooney became a national Rorschach test with ugly interpretations. More than 30,000 spectators gathered to see Holmes and Cooney wage war, with millions more tuning in on closed-circuit, radio, and pay-per-view. It was the biggest fight of its time and, perhaps, a brief glimpse into the dark heart of America. For Cooney, who suggested something out of Clifford Odets—“Like a bullet! All future and no past”— during the Studio 54 heyday, there would be precious few tomorrows in boxing after what happened at Caesars Palace. For Holmes, whose nasty edge never dulled as the years went gray, there were more riches and glories to come…along with enough bleak memories to last a wakeful life. The following is a media collage of the events surrounding one of the most cheerless fights in history.
Continue reading “Imagine A Day At The End Of Your Life: Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney Revisited”
It was a revolution that forced Florentino Fernández, who died of a heart attack on January 28, 2013, at age 76, to chase his dreams at the grimy Fifth Street Gym in Miami.
With the battle of Sierra Maestra all but decided by August 1958, Fidel Castro sent forces led by Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos to Las Villas, where the guerrillas succeeded in dividing Cuba in two. Fulgencio Batista, facing certain defeat and, perhaps, a firing squad, fled Havana for the Dominican Republic on January 1, 1959, but over the next few months and years he would be followed by thousands of Cubans who sailed to Florida amid the upheavals of the era Che hailed as that of the “New Man.” Elections were suspended, President Urrutia resigned, newspapers were shut down or censored, show trials and summary executions took place, and a mass land expropriation program was announced. To many Cubans—particularly middle-class professionals—the pandemonium was untenable. Continue reading “One Shot At Glory: Florentino Fernández and The Middleweights of the 1960s”
December 12, 1986: He was only 27 years old, frazzled young the way only prizefighters and rock stars are frazzled young, and already he was facing Skid Row—a place he had known well after arriving in New York City as a child in the mid-1960s from Guayama, Puerto Rico. Three long years after last being called campeón, Juan Laporte was considered nothing more than a rusted hulk ready to be set on cinderblocks and stripped for parts. But Laporte entered his fight against undefeated Julio Cesar Chavez at Madison Square Garden prepared to hum like a brand new Camero. Continue reading “RAW DEAL: The Night Juan Laporte Nearly Defeated Julio Cesar Chavez”