Bad Juju in San Antonio: 1982

By Ted Sares on August 5, 2013
Bad Juju in San Antonio: 1982
Ayala had a possible weak chin and more to the point, a questionable flaw in his character.

On March 28, 1981, Mario Maldonado (11-7-1 coming in) met vicious and highly touted Tony “El Torito” Ayala Jr. (8-0, 7 KOs at the time) at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

Ayala’s aggressive fighting style earned him the nickname” El Torito,” or the Baby Bull. He was strong, hit hard with both hands, was mean throughout, but also possessed a technical sense of the sweet science that belied his aggressiveness.

Maldonado was expected to go early, but he had other ideas. The fact is, he was coming off a KO win over undefeated Roger “The Dodger” Leonard. Mario did go, but, before he did, he staggered El Torito and then decked him in the first round. Badly hurt, Ayala made it through the round and then took control of the fight, taking out Maldonado with seconds left in the third stanza. He would later admit that he monetarily visited Queer Street.

Maldonado would go on to be a staple in Atlantic City (where he fought on 18 occasions) and finished with a record of 28-13-1 including wins over Nino Gonzalez, Jimmy Batten, Curtis Ramsey, and Buster Drayton.

Robbie Epps

The following year and after 11 straight wins, the more seasoned and feared Ayala fought 6’2” New Mexican Robbie Epps (30-2 at the time) at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas in a scheduled 10-rounder. Epps had once been a stablemate, but he left Ayala’s father and later had reportedly said some things about Ayala’s family. There was bad blood before the fight. Even before the bell rang, a strange and high-decibel roar came from the pro-Ayala crowd, kind of a scary half whistle-half scream. Presumably, the whistling represented boos for Epps, while high-decibel shrieks were cheers for the much shorter Baby Bull.

Epps was no slouch having won his first 22 pro bouts and having beaten Darryl Penn and the very capable Dwight Davison (28-0 coming in).

When the bell rang, Torito, who said he wanted to hurt Epps, went after his opponent like a bull goes after a capeless matador. He didn’t let up with his accurate heavy left hooks and concussive right leads until referee Dickie Cole stopped the brutal mugging at 1:32 of the first round. To punctuate matters, Ayala screamed at the beaten Epps and continued to rain blows upon him as the crowd continued to shriek its approval. Epps needed Lou Duva to help pull Ayala off him. Referee Cole tried but couldn’t do it. The crowd loved it, but it was a harbinger of things to come.

These Ayala wins flew under the radar and exposed rare weaknesses in the Baby Bull’s arsenal—a possible weak chin and more to the point, a questionable flaw in his character. But no one could have imagined back then just how serious that flaw was.

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  1. Ted 08:44am, 08/08/2013

    The entire story—collateral damage and all—was a sad one. I hope you are wrong Rax. God forbid.

  2. raxman 06:49pm, 08/07/2013

    unfortunately those sex offenders are never rehabilitated. getting it into someone’s head that stealing or physically hurting a fellow human is possible - once they’ve done enough jail, risk vs reward can be a factor for even the worst recidivist to change their wicked ways. but sex offenders sail a different boat - they’re not driven by anger or desire of $$ - the sort of repeat sex offender that Ayala is will never be rehabilitated or cured. he will only be out for as long as it takes for him to offend again. here’s hoping the next girl has better aim

  3. Bob 06:13pm, 08/07/2013

    Ayala was such a personable and intelligent guy outside of the ring. All of the Ayala brothers had demons. Mike, who fought Danny Lopez, was also a heroin addict.  When Tony got out of prison in New Jersey, I thought he had a chance if he didn’t drink again.  I knew that was a big if, and was sad to see him blow his second chance and victimize even more people. Tragic tale all around.

  4. Ted 05:47pm, 08/06/2013

    Rax, the good (Arguello), the bad (fill in the blank ______), and the ugly (Torito).

    Still, he has served his time and he should now go away and start his life over again.

  5. raxman 03:42pm, 08/06/2013

    I must admit I put off reading this article until I was clear minded coz this sort of scumbag makes me sick. in my years around the sport an all to regular situation of boys raised by boxing trainer father where the mother is either not around or pushed far into the back ground (the classic example down under is the Waters clan - troy, guy and dean, trained by their father Cec - ted if you don’t know this story you should check it out, its up your alley: real crime and boxing). anyway that particular dynamic seems to raise boxing boys into boxing men that have real problems with women; but I’ve not known anything like this.
    that woman that shot him should’ve had better aim.
    from a boxing point of view, this article makes a great companion piece to Christian G’s one on the late great Alexis Arguello as they highlight both the good and the bad of boxing - one guy spits on his fallen foe, the other won’t even celebrate until he knows his downed opponent is ok

  6. Ted 11:30am, 08/06/2013

    Thanks Kid. Serpico was a good guy but he still had to hide for a while in Switzerland . So does this guy.

  7. kid vegas 10:30am, 08/06/2013

    “Let’s hope he does a Serpico when he gets out and moves to some place where he can be safe from himself.”

    Great line!

  8. Ted 08:43am, 08/06/2013


    Even though I know real men don’t eat quiche, I had a lovely one for lunch along with a bit of Merlot. Now it’s time to hit the links for an afternoon of temper tantrums, frustrations, obscenities—and even the possibility of some mayhem in the aptly named clubhouse.

  9. Mike Casey 08:39am, 08/06/2013

    I stay away from long words after my afternoon dish of tea!

  10. Ted 08:12am, 08/06/2013

    How do you spell DSYFUNCTIONAL?

  11. Mike Casey 07:19am, 08/06/2013

    Yes, mate, I agree. I seem to recall reading a story where Tony Sr disowned Tony and put all his love and energy into son Mike. The Quarry clan seemed like The Waltons by comparison!

  12. Ted 06:58am, 08/06/2013

    Mike, booze, dope, and God only knows what else. Yet his IQ was reasonably high. Something went wrong in the wiring when the alcohol hit it and his personality changed into a dangerous predator. Pity, because he could have been something else. In fact, his comeback was not all that shabby. Let’s hope he does a Serpico when he gets out and moves to some place where he can be safe from himself.

    I do feel sorry for the old man, Tony Sr.. He too was no dummy and was an excellent trainer. His suffering must have cut to the bone.

    The collateral damage done by these kinds of horrific crimes is hard to imagine.

  13. Ted 06:41am, 08/06/2013

    “No More ‘Fake’ Tony Ayala Jr. Gym Stories


    Enough with these fabricated stories about Tony Ayala Jr. beating the
    hell out of World Champions in San Antonio Gyms.

    Fabrication; Fiction, falsehood, story, lie, figment

    Supposedly a packed gym witnessed this in a San Antonio Gym in the
    Summer of 1977.

    Not one film clip, photo or newspaper account.

    What, not one Kodak Insta-Matic Camera was available in San Antonio
    in 1977.

    Lets be real, if this sparring session happened, the Senior Ayala would
    have had every available camera and film-crew in San Antonio there. “

    Compliments of Senor Pepe

  14. Dr. YouTube 06:06am, 08/06/2013

  15. Mike Casey 03:46am, 08/06/2013

    You’re right about Ayala, Ted. He was an absolute sensation before it all went wrong. Apparently he was fatally flawed where alcohol was concerned. Just one drink would send him crazy but he couldn’t acknowledge it (aside from being a screw or two loose in the head, that is).

  16. kid vegas 09:15pm, 08/05/2013

    The Baby Bull AKA middleweight boxer Tony ‘El Torito’ Ayala Jr., is scheduled to be released from prison soon. According to the Texas Department of Justice, Ayala projected release date is no later than April 27, 2014, from Sanders Estes Prison Unit in Venus, Texas.

  17. Ted 05:51pm, 08/05/2013

    He was touted at the time to be one of the greatest middleweight prospects ever. El Torito is a perfect example of a life wasted and potential lost.

  18. Tex Hassler 05:30pm, 08/05/2013

    Tony Ayala was one of my all time favorite fighters. His personal life was his downfall but he was one tough fighter.

  19. Ted 12:56pm, 08/05/2013

    Prov, I think the guy he spat on was Jose Baltazar on January 16, 1981 in
    San Antonio. Actually, you can see it on the long interview video near the very end.

    This was a good early data point as to his character. Coke, Skag, alcohol, and rape were others.

    The thing was, his dad was an excellent trainer. The entire saga is a brutal one, especially insofar as his very lovely and intelligent wife is concerned. What a waste.

  20. jesse kaellis 12:25pm, 08/05/2013

    Tony Ayala was quoted as saying, “I eat your skin; I drink your blood.

  21. jesse kaellis 12:20pm, 08/05/2013

    Dr Perch gets worked by con artist Tony Ayala.  Tony says, “I promise I’ll stop raping!”

  22. jesse kaellis 12:13pm, 08/05/2013

    “Well Lou, what does this fight tell you about your fighter?”
    “It tells me that he is going to be convicted for rape and go to prison.”

  23. Ted 11:20am, 08/05/2013

    Prov, I worked on getting that “Capless Matador” phrase. Thanks for picking up on it.

    No. He spit on someone else. Forget who it was at the time.

    Krusher, it was splendid.

  24. kid vegas 10:58am, 08/05/2013

    Welcome back, Ted. Nice piece on this piece of .......

  25. The Krusher 09:21am, 08/05/2013

    How was your vacation, Bull?

  26. Magoon 09:12am, 08/05/2013

    Lots of boxers were bad boys, and that’s alright - maybe they stole apples or even got into some street fights. But Ayala is a vicious serial rapist, and that’s not alright. This shit is going to be released next year, and that means one or more women brutally raped. The silver lining is that he’ll be sent back to prison for the rest of his life.

  27. Don from Prov 08:26am, 08/05/2013

    “A capeless matador”??? I like it—

    A good article, Ted.  Didn’t Ayala spit on Epps as well?  Who knows whether the main flaw in Ayala, sexual—but more so predatory in nature—had to do with what Teddy Atlas saw as a lack of inner fortitude during the short-lived Ayala comeback between prison stays—maybe, maybe not.  Nonetheless, one of my favorite boxing moments came in the fight following the one where Atlas questioned said fortitude in the person of Ayala.  Ayala won his next fight, and when being interviewed by Atlas thought he’d intimidate Teddy by getting up close and wondering if Atlas might like to edit his view of Ayala’s courage.  Teddy glanced up at Ayala and informed him flatly—dismissively—that no revision of his opinion was forthcoming. No blink from Teddy Atlas.  Ayala is where he needs to be.

  28. Ted 08:05am, 08/05/2013


  29. Magoon 07:36am, 08/05/2013

    Evil with a big fat capital “E.”

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