Tepito (Part One)

By Ted Sares on September 18, 2015
Tepito (Part One)
“Everything is for sale but Tepito’s dignity.” Indeed, Tepito exits because it resists.

Bad things happen everywhere and there is no one place where bad things happen every moment of every day…

“The gringos have always beaten us in everything else, but not in boxing.”—-Cesar Bazan Perez

“Tepito, the poor district where Vicente Fox had breakfast with street children, is one of the most traditional neighborhoods in Mexico City. It is well known for several reasons, the most important probably being the many fighters who in the past were raised and trained there and which have made it to world champions.”—Juan Seale

“In the history of Mexico City, the Tepito neighborhood has seen it all and been it all: modest Indigenous barrio, miserable colonial enclave, central slum of the City of Palaces, and cultural watering hole of the modern metropolis.”—Alfonso Hernández

“Tepito is a city within a city. Its own thing. Either the dark center or the beating heart of Mexico City, depending on your point of view.”—Anthony Bourdain

Many consider Tepito a dangerous place to visit. It is the toughest area in Mexico City likely because of the market that operates there six days a week. It is the biggest street market of Mexico City and is often referred to as the “el barrio bravo de Tepito,” (which roughly translated means “the wild neighborhood of Tepito”). It is a soulful place where innocents and hard working people coexist with criminals.

This often misunderstood locale where many prominent Mexican boxers have been born is perhaps best known for being home to dangerous gangs and criminals. It is bordered by streets on which children with walkie-talkies and cell phones ride bikes ready to alert gang leaders that suspicious looking types have entered. Yet, as someone once said, bad things happen everywhere and there is no one place where bad things happen every moment of every day. So, while respect should always be paid to the reputation of a locale, a locale should never be judged on reputation alone. Indeed, and not unlike La Lagunilla (another great Mexico City market area), my many visits to Tepito have been both enjoyable and safe ones even though poverty, corruption, and violence are daily realities.

Alfonso Hernandez says, “At the global level, Mexico is corrupt, governed by cartels, with incompetent officials. The same thing that happens at the level of the country happens in Tepito. Why judge Tepito when Mexico is the Tepito of the world?”

Locals like to say, “Everything is for sale but Tepito’s dignity.” Indeed, Tepito exits because it resists.

The Boxers

Some notable boxers, mostly hard-luck flyweights from “El Barrio de Tepito,” have come out of Mexico City. Among them were Luis Villanueva Paramo otherwise known as the legendary Kid Azteca, Ruben “El Púas” Olivares, and the highly popular and late Raul “El Ratón” Macías. If you go to Tepito today, there is still a boxing gym where young men spar with each other, but these days, you can only get tickets for occasional amateur bouts, and for all practical purposes, boxing is little more than a memory. Back in the day, however, there were several boxers who fought their way from Tepito to respect throughout Latin America and far beyond. Here are just a few:

Luis Villanueva Paramo aka Kid Azteca (1930-1961)

This immortal welterweight ended his long career with an astonishing mark of 156-44-8 that spanned four decades; he fought at the top level without a gap for four decades in a row! From 1953 until he retired, he fought 27 times, losing only once and fighting to two draws. Even more noteworthy is that he didn’t die until 2002 having lived a full 88 years.

In 1932, Luis beat David Velasco by a 12-round decision to capture the national welterweight title in Mexico City. After reeling off 11 wins in a row, he fought and beat future world middleweight champion Ceferino Garcia on July 11, 1933, at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. Garcia would later hold the great Henry Armstrong to a draw. The Kid and Garcia held a rematch only 14 days later, once again at the Olympic. This time Azteca knocked Garcia out in the eighth canto. After his stunning wins over Garcia, Azteca became a national hero in Mexico (though Garcia would avenge these defeats many years later).

Here is what the World Boxing Hall of Fame (of which he is a member) says about Kid Azteca:

“Born Luis Villanueva Paramo in Tepito, June 21, 1913. Began fighting professionally, as ‘Kid Chino’ in 1929. Boxed throughout Mexico and in various foreign counties over the next 32 years — always in shape, always willing to give it his best, winning most of the time, losing a few bad calls to home-town boys but not complaining, always competitive, always very professional, in and out of the ring… the Kid fought often, and he fought hard. He fought whenever and wherever he could throw up a ring — in arenas, ballrooms, ballparks, bull rings, open plazas, cantinas — even in dirt-floor barns, with no ring ropes, where the undercard consisted of fights to the death between game roosters…”

Unlike many great fighters who stay on too long, The Kid went undefeated in 26 of his last 27 fights and knocked out one Alfonso Malacara in his last outing in 1961

In this spine tingling footage, The Kid gets the loudest applause: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpyGK-_K738

Raul “El Raton” Macias (1953-1962)

“When he fought, everything in Mexico stopped. Still, even today, he’s probably one of the greatest idols in Mexico.”—Boxing writer and publicist Ricardo Jimenez

“My mother would lock me in the house to run out and touch Raton Macias.”—Rodolfo Martinez

The super popular El Raton, whose ring glory days were in the ‘50s, came from Tepito and started his amateur career at 14, winning the National Junior Flyweight, Flyweight and Bantamweight titles. He won a bronze medal at the Pan American Games, and represented Mexico as a bantamweight at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games.

Known by the nickname “Mouse,” the 5-foot-3½-inch Macias won the vacant National Boxing Association — which later became the World Boxing Association — World Bantamweight title over Chamrern Songkitrat of Thailand in 1955. He successfully defended the world title twice before losing it before 20,060 fans to Alphonse Halimi, a curly-haired French-Algerian, on a split decision in 1957 .The decision was controversial as many thought Macias had done enough to win.

Amazingly, he once filled Mexico City’s bullfighting ring with 50,000 adoring fans who watched him defeat Nate Brooks in September 1954 for the North American title. The Mouse became Mexico’s top sports hero and, with a nod to his propensity for soulfulness and drama, dedicated his triumphs to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the country’s patron saint. He was one of Televisa’s first boxing stars and many of his bouts were shown live on during the ’50s. He was also highly popular in California and Texas.

The Mouse, not your typical Mexican brawler of that period, was a “thinking man’s fighter” who could win in many ways. He beat such notables as Alberto Reyes, Larry Bataan, Otilio “Zurdo” Galvan, Tanny Campo, Beto Couary, Fili Nava, Billy “Sweet Pea” Peacock, Cecil Schoonmaker, and Alphonse Halimi. In only his seventh pro outing, he outpointed veteran Otilio “Zurdo” Galvan (then 83-28-5).

Winning his last five fights, The Mouse retired for good in 1962 at age 28 with a professional record of 41-2. Curiously, Macías was KO’d by Billy “Sweet Pea” Peacock who in turned was stopped by Nate Brooks in the first encounter between the two. The knockout loss to Peacock was the first time Macias had been dropped in over 300 amateur and professional bouts

After retiring once and for all from boxing, Macias dedicated his life to acting, appearing in a number of Mexican soap operas, most notably “Mi Pequena Soledad” (“My Small Soledad”) alongside the famous performer Veronica Castro. His movie-star looks and “man-of-the-people” aura made him a favorite of even non-Mexicans. He later became a full-time trainer (he was on the coaching squad of Mexico’s 1984 Olympic Boxing Team) and was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994.

Macias passed on March 23, 2009, at a hospital in Mexico City. He was 74. Considered by many as perhaps Mexico’s first boxing idol, his death was mourned throughout the country and boxing world. A day of national mourning was declared in Mexico upon his passing. 

Tepito (Part One)
Tepito (Part Two)
Tepito (Part Three)

Ted Sares is one of the world’s oldest active power lifters and holds several world and state records. He enjoys writing about boxing.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

IDOLOS DE LA EPOCA DE ORO DEL BOXEO MEXICANO



MUERE RAUL "RATÓN" MACÍAS



Raul Macias | Chamroen Songkitrat 1/2



Raul Macias | Chamroen Songkitrat 2/2



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  1. KB 04:14pm, 09/24/2015

    With millions and millions of people and leaded gas to add to the unreal pollution. It can be a brutal place. And it can be a marvelous place as in Zona Rosas.

  2. Tex Hassler 04:03pm, 09/24/2015

    Tough neighborhoods are breeding grounds for great fighters. Mexico City is one giant city.

  3. KB 07:32am, 09/23/2015

    Thanks Kid. Much appreciated.

  4. The Tijuana Kid 08:53pm, 09/22/2015

    Great and informative read. El Raton is still remembered fondly by many in Mexico to this day.

  5. Bob 03:08am, 09/19/2015

    Nice story about fighters from Mexico City, but the city itself has always been a source of much fascination for me.  Cesar Bazan’s quote sounds like something from a 1940s noir movie, “The gringos have always beaten us in everything else, but not in boxing.”  I have found Mexican people to be the salt of the earth. You need not look beyond the country’s fighters to realize that.

  6. KB 06:07pm, 09/18/2015

    Absolutely, positively

  7. Clarence George 06:00pm, 09/18/2015

    It’s also interesting that Baby Arizmendi is in the Hall, but not his fellow Mexican.  Not sure I understand the rationale.  Which is not to imply that Arizmendi (another huge favorite) doesn’t deserve to be.  He certainly does, but so does Azteca.

  8. KB 03:26pm, 09/18/2015

    Why is he not in the Hall? Gatti and Stallone are in but The Kid is not, Huh.

  9. Clarence George 02:30pm, 09/18/2015

    Well done, KB.  But no reason in the world to beat yourself up.  Impossible to know with absolute certainty what Azteca’s record was, but I think we can be reasonably confident of the 192-46-12, 2 NCs (for a total of 252).  It’s the record quoted by both BoxRec.com and the WBC.  That said, FightsRec.com comes up with 189-49-10!

    I, too, have gotten it wrong on occasion.  Impossible, you say?  Not at all.  I still remember (and with a most painful twinge) when I wrote, “Was Joe Gans deducted a point for what he did to Battling Nelson in ‘06?”  I mean, how stupid can you get?  Don’t answer that.

  10. KB 01:46pm, 09/18/2015

    Clarence. you are spot on regarding The Kid’s record. It should have been 192-46-12. My ugly mistake but I swear to God I thought I had it correct at 192-46-12. I don’t know where the 145-44-8 came from. Erragh, I can’t even claim a typo.

  11. KB 11:47am, 09/18/2015

    Historian and chronicler of sorts. I thought I noted that. Good catch

  12. Big Wally 09:40am, 09/18/2015

    Ted, Who is Alfonso Hernandez?

  13. KB 09:20am, 09/18/2015

    Yes next week is a go.

    There will be three parts. I truly enjoyed doing this one because of the great videos I was able to watch And being fluent in Spanish helped with the enjoyment. The fits one that Robert put up that captured Kid Azteca getting his due was eye-moistening. That man was all about charisma and dignity,

  14. Dollarbond 08:53am, 09/18/2015

    How many parts will there be Ted?  Btw, see you next week in Concord.

  15. KB 07:40am, 09/18/2015

    Thanks Irish. I usually don’t delve into history. This is about as far back as I’ll go.

  16. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:30am, 09/18/2015

    Ted Sares-The KO streak continues. I’m guessing you know this but just a reminder….Kid Azteca couldn’t get a win against Fritzie Zivic in three tries. Fritzie was the antethesis of Floyd Mayweather Jr and all the shitheads like him….the question really is this….who the fuk didn’t Fritzie fight and that includes “Murderer’s Row.

  17. KB 06:23am, 09/18/2015

    I believe my stats on his record are correct as I triple checked them, but you might be right.

    “Canto” was used at times back in the day of Don Dunphy, Johnny Addie et al and before. Those who recognize it are quite special indeed. It is used in poetry but the way its used suggests how it can be used to describe boxing rounds or “stanzas.” hahahaha I prefer round but I like to mix it up once in a while.


    “Our stay in this world is short, and we only leave footprints, by striving to be happy and to bring happiness to the people whom we love”. For the Kid.—One of my favorites as well.

  18. Clarence George 06:00am, 09/18/2015

    Glad you included Kid Azteca, one of my absolute favorite fighters.  I haven’t written about him because the depth and breadth of his career is just too damned intimidating.  He twice beat Cocoa Kid (over the span of about a week!), though the second win was changed to a no contest.  I don’t know why.  He also outpointed Izzy Jannazzo, another favorite of mine.  But I think you’re underestimating his record.  At least officially, it’s 192-46-12, 114 KOs(!), 2 NCs.  He himself was only stopped nine times.  Amazing.  A massive disgrace that he hasn’t been inducted into the IBHOF.

    By the way, is it your contention that “canto” is an acceptable synonym for “round”?  I’m coming over there with a big stick.

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