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Camacho Gets Hall Call

Michael Woods

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It will be Macho Time once again the weekend of June 9-12, 2016, as Hector Camacho, the ludicrously flamboyant pugilistic artist whose considerable talents were at times overshadowed by his showy style in garb and gab, will gain entry into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, in Canastota, NY.

The Hall call comes three years after the death of “Macho,” the Puerto Rican pride of Spanish Harlem, NY who helped bridge the interest gap in the sport post Ali years.

Mexican rumbler Lupe Pintor will also be installed in the mecca which spotlights the legacies of the best and brightest hitters the world has known; Panamanian scrapper Hilario Zapata has been tabbed, as has the man who I believe reveres the sport more than any other living being, HBO’s unofficial scorer extraordinaire, Harold Lederman.

Marc Ratner, for ages a fixture in Nevada as a fair-minded commission member, will be a Hall member, as will journalist Jerry Izenberg, a wordsmith who helped communicate the meaningfulness of The Greatest, Ali, and the other bright lights of that era, and beyond. Blow by blow bastion Col. Bob Sheridan will also see his name enshrined at Canastota.

That we won’t be able to hear a speech from Camacho (79-6-3), who was shot and killed, at age 50, is a crying shame. His hands were lightning fast and had few if any rivals during his heyday. His mouth, too, was a sight to behold, when he got yapping. His out of the ring exploits–he struggled to stay on the straight and narrow at times–often landed him in hot water and the police blotter, but memories of his triumphs at super feather, lightweight, and junior welter, where he took titles, will live on with more vibrance.

The Bronx-born Lederman got the word, and was almost, almost at a loss for words..but not. “I’m so excited,” said the Jersey resident, a fixture on HBO broadcasts for three decades now. “It’s one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me. I’m so proud. It’s mind boggling. It’s so important to be elected into the Hall of Fame. I think this is wonderful. I’m so happy. It’s amazing.”

Wordsmith Izenberg too had to grasp for the right wording.

“I can’t believe it,” said the Newark Star-Ledger’s chronicler. “I really appreciate it and I’m just so moved by this honor. I’m absolutely flabbergasted because I really feel so many of the inductees I personally knew. Some of them were my heroes and some of them my compatriots. The fact is I’m just so grateful.” His work ethic and consistency was something a fighter could look up to; Izenberg penned five columns a week for many a moon.

Ratner told me,  “I feel humbled and overwhelmed and honored.” He cited “Fan Man’s” bizarro entrance into the Bowe-Holyfield fight in 1993 as the boxing memory he most often ponders. “Nothing in the rule book about that occurence,” he said, chuckling.

Pintor (56-14-2) was an ace at bantamweight, and super bantam; the Mexican started as a pro in 1974 and finished in 1986, before coming back for a late run from 1994 to summer 1995. Fans recall his triumph in a tight tangle over countryman Carlos Zarate in 1979, the tragic win over Johnny Owen in 1980 (Owen passed away from brain trauma) and a TKO loss to Puerto Rican master Wilfredo Gomez in 1982. The services of judge Harold Lederman were not needed that night.

Zapata was a little man, with big skills. The Panamanian lefty went 43-10-1, and won titles at junior flyweight and flyweight.

The last word here goes to Hector Camacho Jr.

Junior, I asked, how does it feel, your pop getting into the Hall. Sweet? Mixed Feelings, some sadness felt?

“I’m full of joy,” Junior told NYFights.com. “He definitely deserves it! The underdog came up! I’m feeling full of joy. I was tearing up when I got the call. I know all the hard work he put into his career. It goes to show, that if one has a dream, and puts his goals out front, and goes for what he wants, he can achieve it. Macho Camacho is the classic example, an underdog who came out of the streets of Spanish Harlem into the International Boxing Hall of Fame! It can be done. So for the youth…you have a dream, go out and get it! It can be done. Macho Time!”

And lastly…can Camacho Jr.  sum up his dad for us, as we recollect what a skilled fighter he was, what a compelling and novel character he was…

Said Camacho Jr.: “He was crazy, loving, real, funny….DAD!”

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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