“Schoolboy” was his nickname, which kinda sorta made sense only in that he looked youthful while kicking the asses of men much older. Books weren't his thing, and it became clear early on that this would be a person whose vocational arc would likely include a trade in which he'd use his hands.
Bobby Chacon did that in the streets, in parking lots, in alleys, wherever, and then, after his gal suggested he was born to do that, in prizefight rings.
He did it quite well, becoming a fan fave in the 70s into the 80s, and he entered the Hall of Fame in 2005. His legacy lives on, then, via enthralling YouTube footage, but also as a textbook “rough around the edges kid who finds a home in the ring, only to find that home become a prison” tale.
This is what he was born to do, and it became unfathomable that he could do anything else to earn his keep. So Chacon overstayed his welcome, stayed at the party too long. Debuting in 1972 after becoming a street scrap king, his mitts went dusty in 1988. He started slurring his words, had that lead tongued tone by the mid 80s. And yet he fought on, for that was what he was born to do. The familiarity of that chapter, so sad, the repetitiveness; fighting is their trade and it is no easy task to reset your mind and learn a new trade at midlife.
Chacon died on Sept 7, 2016, and you can choose to ponder his existence and fixate on the sorrows or focus on the triumphs. There is much to choose of both.
Oh, but know the man was a fighter. He was dangerous till the final bell and wearing a crimson mask that would be deemed over the top in an 80s slasher flick didn't dent his aggression.
Get to YouTube and watch him trade and give and take with Little Red Lopez, and Ruben Olivares and Bazooka Limon and Cornelius Boza Edwards. Skip, if you want, his 1984 fight against Boom Boom Mancini, a TKO3 loss for the aged “Schoolboy.”
I reached out to Boom Boom. He called the passing “profoundly sad.” He was referencing, also, I think the totality of the existence. Chacon's wife Valorie, feeling guilty after getting him to box, shot and killed herself. He drank and did drugs recklessly, to the point he became a Skid Rower. Bobby Jr was shot and killed. But ever the fighter, Chacon picked himself up off the mat, once, twice, and again, and impressed people with his good humor even as his brain betrayed him more and more. Mancini shared these anecdotes of Chacon (59-7-1) and I will let Boom Boom close this show with his thoughts.
“The day of the press conference in NYC, I invited Bobby to dinner that night,” said the Ohio based man immortalized along with Chacon in blood and in song, by Warren Zevon. “I took him down to Little Italy, Mulberry St., and we ate at Il Cortile. He was eating like he was going to the electric chair. He says to me, “Ray, I gotta put on weight, I can afford to eat.” I said to him, “Yeah Bobby I know, I just don't want you eatin your way up to the next weight class!
“Also, Bobby trained for our fight up near a brothel in Northern California. So I guess he used to visit it during camp. He'd say, “What was I supposed to do, they were calling my name? If I had had my legs Ray, I coulda beat you! When I used to see Bobby, he'd say, “Ray, there were too many of them, what was I supposed to do?” I said, “Bobby, if I had known that, I would've sent more”! He'd always laugh about it and give me a hug. My heart aches, I truly loved him. As a friend, as a fighter but more so, as the man he was!”