Puerto Rican Trilogy

By George Thomas Clark on August 25, 2013
Puerto Rican Trilogy
I have to fight fuck dance and talk and I love speeding in stolen cars. (Robert Ecksel)

I’m loving life on the island and my buddy and I have ten packets of coke in his car and snort one and are ready to do lots more when I’m shot in the face…

Edwin Rosario at Home

I grow up poor and start fighting for money at age fifteen and win my first world title at twenty and earn millions and my fourth title at twenty-eight. I deserve some fun and take advantage that women and fans love me and impressive guys are friends who give me drugs. Then I have to buy them. That’s okay. I’m living wild and need a fix or booze but can’t afford either so take a case of beer and get arrested and have other problems leading to a year in prison. When I get out I’ve lost homes and cars and my wife but still have four daughters. And I know I’ve still got knockout power. Maybe I’m an old thirty-four but don’t dwell on that. I’m proud I went through rehab. I’m ready to win another title, and soon beat five guys who aren’t very good. I’m not worried about them now. I’m visiting my daughters but don’t feel well and have to go home. Now I’m living with my parents who know I’m not right. Less than an hour later Dad checks and I’m gone.

The Hector Camacho Experience

I’m only fifteen but in jail and then out I can’t slow down and don’t want to everything’s moving so fast I have to fight fuck dance and talk and I love speeding in stolen cars and taking other things and get more excited in the ring. I’m so much quicker than opponents I belt whenever I want while dodging their punches and prancing away. I’m a father at sixteen when I start winning amateur titles and pound Bazooka Limon for the world junior lightweight championship at twenty-one. It’s really incredible all the girls tell me I’m so handsome and cool which I know I am so wired I can’t stop doing things to make me feel better that’s what coke does I do so much and tell friends and reporters I know I’m going out by bullets I think about that all the time. How are you going to die? I can’t wait I win the lightweight title at twenty-three I’m making millions I’m the macho man of boxing and keep winning at twenty-eight I’m thirty-eight and oh no one can beat me as I enter the ring in Roman armor or Indian headdress or fox fur robe. I’m way too tough for cops and guys in nightclubs I’m the macho man they rob giving Greg Haugen a split decision I get the title back three months later and at twenty-nine I’m in the showdown of Latin idols against plodding Julio Cesar Chavez. He can’t catch me he can’t keep catching me he can’t keep doing this he’s beating hell out of me they say I’m a runner I’m a dancer I don’t like to get hit. You like getting hit? I’m getting hit by everything Chavez has but don’t go down and keep fighting a lion who wins about every round but I raise my hands. 

I’m a warrior and still the pretty macho man and at thirty-one move up to welterweight and go after Felix Trinidad’s crown in a war for Puerto Rican rights they’re mine though I’m more from New York it doesn’t matter this guy’s eleven years younger and too big but can’t stop me. I keep fighting and winning and batter old legends Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard I love those guys they help me get ready at thirty-five to take on another Latin heartthrob Oscar De La Hoya who’s too young and slick and knocks me down but I get up no one’s stopping the macho man. I don’t lose for six years when I’m almost forty-one I’m not afraid and keep beating guys outside the ring and ladies still love me but they and my four sons and ex-wife are expensive and coke’s worse and why I love it so much people don’t understand. Here try it and you’ll see how great it is. I’m almost forty-three and four times a world champion breaking into an electronics store for a payday that ends with my hands in cuffs and ecstasy confiscated but my lawyers keep me out of prison so I can hang out and snort more coke and get shot at in twenty-eleven and a month later I pick up one of my sons by the neck and slam before stomping him. We’ll fix that in court. What the hell I’ve got places in Florida and Puerto Rico and at fifty I’m loving life on the island and my buddy and I have ten packets of coke in his car and snort one and are ready to do lots more when I’m shot in the face by a guy you know’s too scared to step up and take on the macho man of boxing. 

Try Hitting Wilfred Benitez

You can’t hit me. I see punches coming before they’re thrown and move my head left right back up and down all over again making you hit air where I should’ve been. I’m so mature, turning pro when I’m fifteen and in little more than two years confusing a great champion, Antonio Cervantes, to win the junior welterweight title, youngest ever to do so. Looks like I’ll be champion forever. I keep moving and confusing everyone so can’t believe Bruce Curry knocks me down when I’m nineteen. I get up and go right back down and also fall once in the fifth but win a split decision and handle him my next fight. I can’t make a hundred forty anymore, I’m only nineteen and growing into a welterweight and in a year win that title, beating a fine champion, Carlos Palomino. Now I’m twenty-one and ready for the biggest fight in the world, defending my title against another unbeaten, Sugar Ray Leonard. I’m still slick but on this night Leonard’s smoother and stronger and stops me in the fifteenth round. Okay, I tell the world in English, we fight, he win. No problem. I win three fights in a row, getting heavier and stronger, and pound Maurice Hope to capture my third world title. I’m only twenty-two. I’ll be king forever, especially after I teach defense to Roberto Duran, who barely hits me. I’m rich and sexy and a hero in Puerto Rico and everywhere else I go. 

Next fight I stick my nose under Tommy Hearns’ chin during the pre-fight stare down. I look calm but understand he’s one big dude and, despite dodging dozens of his blows, absorb enough to lose the decision and feel bad a long time. I’ll be all right. I’m only twenty-four and master of defense. I’ll show rough left-handed Syrian middleweight Mustafa Hamsho. I’ll dodge and dance and pop. Maybe I will next time. Tonight Hamsho kicks ass, and next year Davey Moore stops me in the second round. Hold it. Sugar Ray Leonard needed fifteen rounds to get me, and Hearns couldn’t stop me in fifteen nor Hamsho in twelve. What’s going on? Some tell me I still have only the strength of a junior welterweight but am slower and shouldn’t fights guys like Matthew Hilton, a burly Canadian who mauls me nine rounds before backing me onto the ropes and knocking me out with a roundhouse that blasts my head back and jars my mouth open. I watch replays on film. I can’t stand to watch. I’m only twenty-seven. What the hell’s happening? Maybe I’m an old twenty-seven. I conclude I’m an old twenty-eight when a journeyman beats me up in Argentina and I lose my documents and stumble around that country for a year or two. I’m retired. That’s a good move. Three and a half years later I’m back for four fights, two losses, and lots more shots to the head. But I don’t think those last four fights are the problem. It’s the punches I took as a kid, and the punches I absorbed as a pro, and the way my brain keeps getting worse, often making me forget who I am. Thankfully, I have a small pension, a sturdy wheelchair, and plenty of relatives to care for me. 

George Thomas Clark is the author of Uppercuts: Tales from the Ring, a collection of boxing stories available as an eBook at Amazon.com and other Digital Stores. His short story collection, The Bold Investor, is also available. See the author’s website at www.GeorgeThomasClark.com.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Edwin Rosario vs Livingstone Bramble (KO2)

Camacho vs Limon

Antonio Cervantes vs Wilfred Benitez (03/06/1976) (1/6)

Antonio Cervantes vs Wilfred Benitez (03/06/1976) (2/6)

Antonio Cervantes vs Wilfred Benitez (03/06/1976) (3/6)

Antonio Cervantes vs Wilfred Benitez (03/06/1976) (4/6)

Antonio Cervantes vs Wilfred Benitez (03/06/1976) (5/6)

Antonio Cervantes vs Wilfred Benitez (03/06/1976) (6/6)

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  1. Walter Wojtowicz 10:41pm, 08/29/2013

    God, I love this website.  So, this is where all the action is..ha, ha.  How did I miss this article.  Seems like everyone is getting excited.  Well, they were great, very tragic and Puerto Rican (although two were born NOT on the island).  I think between the three had over 180 wins, 20 losses.  Something like that.  I read the comments and I think someone mentioned the word sad.  Felt sad reading the piece.  In a good way.  Really makes a person think about these guys went through, accomplished and lost.  I got an idea.  Why don’t you do an article “Polish Trilogy: Ketchel/Golota/Walter’s cousin Tadeusz:  Opium, Illegal Firearms and we can figure out something bad to assign to Teddy.  Anyway, this way the offended posters won’t feel so alone.  Great piece of writing Mr. Clark.  Really enjoyed it.

  2. George Thomas Clark 03:04pm, 08/28/2013

    I will be happy to read your book when it comes out.  You should easily be able to publish it in electronic form.  If you persuade me that my research and the news report about Hector were wrong, then I will about an article about my errors and your rectitude.

  3. George Thomas Clark 02:59pm, 08/28/2013

    Eddie Montalvo - I did my research on Hector Camacho, whom I still admire, and got my information - that you call erroneous - from news reports about his arrest for breaking and entering as well as for the charge of assault of his son.  These are the public records.  I have merely quoted them.  If the public records are inaccurate, why don’t you take your complaint to the police stations and district attorney’s office that filed the charges:?  I doubt you will do that because the charges are likely true.

  4. Eddie Montalvo 04:47am, 08/28/2013

    GEORGE THOMAS CLARK…  I agree with CHRIS’ comment.  And I shall Add; your writing Stinks big on this one.  As a family member of the Late Hector Macho Camacho. I not only take offense at what you’ve written, I am appalled that such a respected writer (NO LONGER RESPECTED BY THIS WRITER) as yourself would make fun of, and write insinuations of what Macho would’ve said.  They are DISRESPECTFUL and erroneous, especially your suggested comments of what My Brother Macho said (or could’ve said) during the moment he was shot is.

    Get your facts correct George.  You’re writing not only stinks it preys on readers’ minds in an effort for your receiving comments and responses to said writing.  The information you have with respect to Macho’s adolescent years,his slamming my nephew on the grown, his having need to break into an electronic store for money and so on, are WRONG and INCORRECT IN ITS CONTENT.  DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU SLANDER THE DECEASED ...

    Someday you’ll get the opportunity to read my book which I hope to release next year about these and many other facts about Macho’s Life.

    You feed off the dead to revitalize your pieces…  SHAME ON YOU!

  5. Ted 02:19pm, 08/27/2013

    GTC, I have your back bro.  This could have been about Monzon, Bonavena and Galindez.

  6. George Thomas Clark 09:03pm, 08/26/2013

    The fact these three champions are from Puerto Rico is incidental.  The story is “framed” around their in and out of ring experiences, which are universal.  I have recently written several stories about fighters from the United States - Jerry Quarry and Bobby Chacon, for example - who had similar problems.  No one accused me of “insulting” Americans.  Camacho, Rosario, and Benitez happened to be from Puerto Rico, and that is the only reason they were grouped that way.  If all three had been from Chicago, I would’ve called the story “Chicago Trilogy.”

  7. Chris m 08:54pm, 08/26/2013

    I think it was totally unnecessary to write this piece in a fictional first person point of view. The author of this piece invents statements these men never made and constructs these statements in broken English, so as to further insult them and reinforce negative stereotypes about Puerto Ricans. These men were obviously not educated, articulate men. They were fighters from impoverished, socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and they found in professional boxing what many young men of color find: short term fame and wealth. They did not have the education or support from those around them to maintain their success, and that is why they failed. To simply frame it around the fact they were Puerto Rican is insulting.

  8. dollarbond 04:26am, 08/26/2013

    excellent piece

  9. kid vegas 04:52pm, 08/25/2013

    Very sensitive and touching article. One that should be read with simpatico. Thank you George.

  10. Pete The Sneak 02:57pm, 08/25/2013

    Sigh…GTC, this is a nicely written article, however I read it with a heavy heart. I celebrate it, yet I lament it. As a young ‘Nuyorican’ growing up in the South Bronx, NY, these Great Boricua Boxers were the guys who made you puff up your chest every time their names were mentioned. You followed and supported these guys blindly and religiously. The only time that loyalty was tested and divided was when Camacho fought Chapo Rosario. Camacho of course was considered a ‘Nuyorican’ (like me) and Chapo was a ‘Native’ Island son. I remember the home of a friend where we saw fight had the older Boricua Gentlemen (who were native islanders) rooting for Chapo and dogging Hector, while we Nuyorican young bloods were cheering on the Macho Man. As for Benitez, well we were extremely disappointed with him when he lost to Sugar Ray Leonard and heck, we thought he gave SRR to much respect. Still, we loved our Boricua Fighters and if they were doing drugs, drinking too much, committing crimes or whatever, all that would be washed away. forgiven and forgotten with another ‘Boricua’ victory. Sitting here now and reading this article, it brings it home as to Glory indeed being shot lived. It hurts, but the truth always does….Clarence, I know you were joking about these PR fighters being miscreants and unfortunates, however there is a shiver of truth as to the ‘Unfortunate’ aspect of your comments. Unfortunately….Peace.

  11. George Thomas Clark 02:51pm, 08/25/2013

    Right, Thresher, Esteban de Jesus is perhaps the saddest of all: in prison for murder and dying of AIDS…

  12. Thresher 02:46pm, 08/25/2013

    hmm. maybe I was thinking of Argentina. Gomez cleaned up his act.

    But you sure nailed the big three and you did it with aplomb.

  13. Thresher 02:44pm, 08/25/2013

    Esteban “Vita” De Jesus STILL ANOTHER

  14. Thresher 02:39pm, 08/25/2013



  15. George Thomas Clark 01:56pm, 08/25/2013

    Clarence - I guarantee I usually understand your humor but this one sailed overhead.  I’ve been thinking a lot about these three guys and just wasn’t prepared…

  16. Clarence George 01:43pm, 08/25/2013

    GTC:  I see that you’re in dire need of my assistance in attaining a more fully developed sense of humor.  My fees are reasonable, and I urge you to take advantage of my kind and generous offer…before it’s too late.

  17. George Thomas Clark 01:34pm, 08/25/2013

    Clarence - In no way am I implying that “Puerto Rico’s pugilists are miscreants and unfortunates.”  I am simply writing a true story about three great fighters, all of whom I like.  My point is they had tragic lives.  Perhaps these tragedies could have been avoided.  I assume - hope - that people who enjoyed their prowess in the ring are also saddened by their difficulties out of it.

  18. Clarence George 01:14pm, 08/25/2013

    GTC:  You know what’s going to happen, don’t you?  Our affronted and enraged Puerto Rican brethren are going to chase you through the streets as they did Kramer in what I believe was the penultimate episode.  What you need here is a buffer, something to defuse or at least relativize all the misbehavior and tragedy—a segment on the noble and truly great Pedro Montanez, for instance.  But suit yourself if you want to leave the impression that Puerto Rico’s pugilists are miscreants and unfortunates.  Just know that my rescuing days are over (except for fair damsels in distress, of course).

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