SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Hector Macho Camacho was a brash fighter with an aggressive style, launching himself furiously against some of the biggest names in boxing. And his bad-boy persona was not entirely an act, with a history of legal scrapes that began in his teens and continued throughout his life.
The man who once starred at the pinnacle of boxing, winning several world titles, died Saturday at 50 after being ambushed in a parking lot back in the Puerto Rican town of Bayamon where he was born. Packets of cocaine were found in the car in which he was shot.
He excited boxing fans around the world with his inimitable style, promoter Don King told The Associated Press.
Camacho fought professionally for three decades, from his humble debut against David Brown at New York’s Felt Forum in 1980 to an equally forgettable swansong against Saul Duran in Kissimmee, Fla., in 2010.
In between, he fought some of the biggest stars spanning two eras, including Sugar Ray Leonard, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Roberto Duran.
Hector was a fighter who brought a lot of excitement to boxing, said Ed Brophy, executive director of the International the Boxing Hall of Fame.
Camacho’s family moved to New York when he was young and he grew up in Spanish Harlem, which at the time was rife with crime. Camacho landed in jail as a teenager before turning to boxing, which for many kids in his neighborhood provided an outlet for their aggression.
This is something I’ve done all my life, you know? Camacho told The Associated Press after a workout in 2010.
Former featherweight champion Juan Laporte, a friend since childhood, described Camacho as like a little brother who was always getting into trouble, but otherwise combined a friendly nature with a powerful jab.
He’s a good human being, a good hearted person, Laporte said.
Drug, alcohol and other problems trailed Camacho himself after the prime of his boxing career. He was sentenced in 2007 to seven years in prison for the burglary of a computer store in Mississippi. While arresting him on the burglary charge in January 2005, police also found the drug ecstasy.
A judge eventually suspended all but one year of the sentence and gave Camacho probation. He wound up serving two weeks in jail, though, after violating that probation.
Camacho’s former wife, Amy, obtained a restraining order against him in 1998, alleging he threatened her and one of their children. The couple, who had two children at the time, later divorced.
Long promoted by Don King, Camacho won his first world title by beating Rafael Limon in a super-featherweight bout in Puerto Rico on Aug. 7, 1983. He moved up in weight two years later to capture a lightweight title by defeating Jose Luis Ramirez, and successfully defended the belt against fellow countryman Edwin Rosario.
The fighter’s last title bout came in 1997 against welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya, who won by unanimous decision. Camacho’s last fight was his defeat by Saul Duran in May 2010. He had a career record of 79-6-3.
Doctors pronounced Camacho dead on Saturday after he was removed from life support at his family’s direction.