Often I think that being from a small country gives you advantages. When you discover the histories and struggles of others, it makes you appreciate all the more that people have to survive against tremendous odds and sometimes that struggle happens from within a small village or community and I think, I know how that feels.
The news this week that from a small community in California, a famous son had passed on was as simple yet as devastating as you can imagine. Bobby Chacon deserves the ten bells and as many plaudits as possible as this fearsome warrior was brought to the end of his life following a battle outside the ring, as big as any he fought within it; and when you realize the massive fights within the four corners…
A former two weight world champion for the WBC at both featherweight and super featherweight, Chacon left us, this week, at the very early age of 64.
His career in the pro game started in 1972 and he was as fearless as he was skilled. Despite a loss in 1973, 14 months and 18 successful fights after starting as a pro, he was clearly destined for great things as he fought and took the WBC featherweight title against Alfredo Marcano; ironically he was to lose the title to the man who beat him in 1973, Mexican great Ruben Olivares.
His next loss set off one of the biggest boxing rivalries of the time with Rafael Limon. Limon would only win that one as another two contests between them went to Chacon and the other one was scored a technical draw. All four fights were all brutal and bruising affairs with the last one in 1982, over 15 rounds, ended with Chacon becoming a two weight world champion as the WBC super featherweight champion. Each of their fights became a “Fight of the Year or a legendary event that was spoken about in hushed whispers or massive voices that just wanted more.
Now we see lots of fighters wanting to preserve their 0 but Chacon was fearless. His win as a super featherweight champion came on his 3rd attempt for it AND then he went on for a WBA lightweight challenge that was lost to Ray Mancini.
His final 7 bouts were won, one against a certain Mr Freddie Roach as he hung up his gloves – with a comeback in the mid 80’s added to a long and illustrious career in the sport he loved. It was a love that brought as much tragedy as it did fame and fortune.
For 16 years Chacon had been a pro and he retired with a 59-7-1, 47 KO’s record.
His wars and battles were set, though, to continue.
As early as his first stint as a world champion his troubles with alcohol and the law – he might have suggested the first was no problem – and the wheels were set to come off a glorious career.
In 1982 trauma was to add its dreadful color to his life as his wife, Valerie Chacon, took her own life after failing to convince him to give up boxing, the night before he knocked out Salvador Ugalde in the 3rd round.
18 months or so after that tragedy he remarried, bought a massive farm and plenty of other trinkets by way of Rolls Royce’s and kept fighting.
In 1991 he had further tragedy visit him as his son was murdered. By the year 2000 Chacon himself was cutting the tragic figure as the money was gone and it was reported that he was now suffering from dementia pugilistia or boxer’s syndrome. He was now being cared for.
Chacon was more than a boxer. He became an icon. For a small community he was their champion because for the world he fleetingly became ours too. His fights were wars and entertainment, but in later life he paid a heavy price for the joy and spectacle he brought us. It reminds us of how fickle the sweet science is. Sometimes more science than sweet, but there is no bitterness as we remember a man who lit up the ring and fought to stay among it – RIP Bobby Chacon.Contact the Feature Writers