Agony of mother of slain boxing champion Hector 'Macho' Camacho as she lays out her son's body during open-casket wakeHector Camacho, 50, shot while sitting in a car in his native Puerto RicoHe was removed from life support on Sunday
Friends and family mourned the loss of the welterweight champion at wake'They killed him,' mother cries
04:43 GMT, 28 November 2012
Family, fans and fellow boxers said goodbye Tuesday to Hector 'Macho' Camacho at a memorial and wake for the slain former world champion fighter known for his flamboyance in and out of the ring.
Hundreds of people filed past Camacho's open casket, displayed inside a gymnasium decked out for the occasion with black carpet and curtains. The boxer wore white, along with a large gold crucifix and a necklace spelling out his nickname, 'Macho,' in capital letters.
First up were members of his immediate family, including his mother, Maria Matias, who wept and caressed her son's face in the coffin, which was draped in a Puerto Rican flag.
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Mourning: Family and friends of Hector 'Macho' Camacho mourned his death at an open-casket wake for the former Puerto Rican welterweight boxing champion
Loss: Maria Matias cries over the body of her son during the wake in San Juan Tuesday
'They killed him,' she wailed at one point.
Camacho was shot Nov. 20 while sitting in a parked car with a friend outside a bar in Bayamon, his hometown. The friend died at the scene and the boxer three days later after doctors removed him from life support.
Police have said they have suspects but have not yet arrested anyone for the shooting.
After the family, came a cross-section of Puerto Rican society that included parents with young children, the elderly, road crew workers in neon safety vests, U.S. soldiers in uniform and a who's who of Puerto Rican boxers.
'Everybody loved him here in Puerto Rico,' said Henry Neumann, the secretary of the U.S. island territory's sports and recreation department. 'He is one of those athletes who transcended the barriers of his country not only for his skill inside the ring but for his personality.'
Saying goodbye: Hundreds of mourners gathered at Camacho's casket to pay their respects
Death: Camacho died after he was shot Nov. 20 while sitting in a parked car with a friend outside a bar in Bayamon, his hometown
Camacho, who was 50 when he died, left Puerto Rico as a child and moved to New York.
He went on to win super lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight world titles in the 1980s and fought high-profile bouts against Felix Trinidad, Julio Cesar Chavez and Sugar Ray Leonard. He had a career record of 79-6-3 and was a showman in the ring, chanting 'It's Macho time' before fights and wearing garish jewelry.
He battled drug and alcohol problems throughout his life and had frequent run-ins with police.
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.
Memories: Matias, Camacho's mother, laughs as 10-year-old Alexandre Birriel dresses and acts as a young Camacho
When he was shot, police found an open package of cocaine in the car and nine unopened packages on his friend.
A police officer in Bayamon, Raul Nazario, recalled at the wake how he saw Camacho one day and drove over in his squad car to greet him, but the boxer fled. Later, out of uniform, the officer said he ran into him again and they exchanged a laugh and Camacho posed with him for a photo.
'For Puerto Rican people he was something great,' Nazario said.
Many of those in attendance had similar personal encounters.
Doris Correa, a 71-year-old from the town of Vega Baja, showed a photo she took of Camacho in the 1980s, when her family and his happened to be camping in the same campground in the island's southwest. At one point, he grabbed a microphone, declared 'it's Macho time,' and began singing for everyone.
Last days: Camacho's family decided to take him off life support after doctors found that he was brain dead following the shooting
Tragedy: Matias cried and shouted, 'They killed him,' in refernce to her son's killers. Camacho was killed in a drive-by shooting
Troubled: Camacho battled drug and alcohol problems throughout his life and had frequent run-ins with police
'Back then, we didn't know what karaoke was,' she said. 'He invented it.'
Boxer Juan Manuel 'Juanma' Lopez, one of several dozen fighters on hand to say goodbye, recalled Camacho's dazzling speed in the ring.
'He was definitely a showman,' he said. 'It was something grandiose.'
The memorial and wake was scheduled to last two days. Family members have not yet announced the location and date of the funeral. His lawyer, Linda George, told Radio Isla 1320 that it would be in New York.
Shot while sitting in a parked car outside a bar Tuesday with a friend in the city of Bayamon, he was declared dead at the Centro Medico trauma center in San Juan.
Originally from Bayamon, just outside San Juan, Camacho was long regarded as a flashy if volatile talent, a skilled boxer who was perhaps overshadowed by his longtime foil, Mexican superstar Julio Cesar Chavez, who would beat him in a long-awaited showdown in Las Vegas in 1992.
Shot: Camacho was declared clinically brain dead on Thursday at Centro Medico, the trauma center in San Juan
Agony: The champ's mother Maria Matias announced on Friday night that he would be removed from life support at some point on Saturday
'This is something I've done all my life, you know' Camacho told The
Associated Press after a workout in 2010. 'A couple years back, when I
was doing it, I was still enjoying it. The competition, to see myself
perform. I know I'm at the age that some people can't do this no more.'
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.
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 as he
waited with other friends and members of the boxer's family outside the
hospital in San Juan after the shooting. 'A lot of people think of him
as a cocky person but that was his motto … inside he was just a kid
looking for something.'
Conflict: Camacho's son Hector Jr, right, opposed the decision to end his father's life
Fighter: Camacho's condition worsened overnight at the critical care unit in San Juan
Laporte lamented that Camacho never found a mentor outside the boxing ring.
'The people around him didn't have the guts or strength to lead him in
the right direction,' Laporte said. 'There was no one strong enough to
put a hand on his shoulder and tell him how to do it.'
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.
He divided his time between Puerto Rico and Florida in recent years,
appearing on Spanish-language television as well as on a reality show
called 'Es Macho Time!' on YouTube.
Fighter: Camacho's son Hector Jr believed that his father was still alive despite the doctors' prognosis. His father was declared dead on Saturday
Grief: The boxing champion's son Hector Camacho Jr was mobbed by reporters as he enters the San Juan hospital this week
Devastating: Hector Camacho, the father of the boxing great, contemplates the agonizing decision to take his son off life support after he was declared brain dead. His son died on Saturday
Inside the boxing ring, Camacho flourished. He won three Golden Gloves
titles as an amateur, and after turning pro, he quickly became a
contender with an all-action style reminiscent of other Puerto Rican
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,
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.
Previous convictions: Adrian Mojica Moreno was reportedly in possession of cocaine when he was shot and killed outside a bar in Puerto Rico
The Rosario fight, in which the victorious Camacho still took a savage
beating, persuaded him to scale back his ultra-aggressive style in favor
of a more cerebral, defensive approach.
The change in style was a big reason that Camacho, at the time 38-0,
lost a close split decision to Greg Haugen at Caesar's Palace in Las
Vegas in 1991.
Camacho won the rematch to set up his signature fight against Chavez,
this time at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Camacho was
roundly criticized for his lack of action, and the Mexican champion won a
lopsided unanimous decision to retain the lightweight title.
Last moments: The boxer's two sisters Esther and Estrella Camacho had asked for more time to spend at their brother's bedside before he was taken off life support
Overwhelmed: Maria Matias, mother of Hector Camacho, is supported as she leaves the San Juan hospital on Friday
Bearer of bad news: Dr Ernesto Torres, director of the Centro Medico trauma center in San Juan, declared that the boxing legend was clinically brain dead on Thursday
It was at that point that Camacho became the name opponent for other
rising contenders, rather than the headliner fighting for his own glory.
He lost a unanimous decision to another young Puerto Rican fighter,
Trinidad, and was soundly defeated by De La Hoya. In 1997, Camacho ended
Leonard's final comeback with a fifth-round knockout. It was Camacho's
last big victory even though he boxed for another decade.
'Hector was a fighter who brought a
lot of excitement to boxing,' said
Ed Brophy, executive director of International the Boxing Hall of Fame.'
He was a good champion. Roberto Duran is kind of in a class of his own,
but Hector surely was an exciting fighter that gave his all to the
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 Duran in May 2010.
Brutal slaying: A friend of the boxer, who has not been identified lies dead on the ground outside the bar where he was also shot
Attack: Camacho was left brain-dead after being shot in the face in the Puerto Rican capital
VIDEO: Camacho's mother's emotional statement as eldest son disagrees with the decision to take his father off life support
Retired: Camacho's last title bout came against then-welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya in 1997, a loss by unanimous decision
The champ: Camacho in a Roman solider's uniform before fighting Sugar Ray Leonard in Atlantic City and after winning the fight (right)