The Mexicans—It’s in the Blood

By Michael Schmidt on June 10, 2011
The Mexicans—It’s in the Blood
The great Ruben Olivares was one of a kind

Olivares, a true champion, always so accomodating and always so gracious at these Hall of Fame events, sits with a relaxed smile on his face…

It’s Friday night at the annual International Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, 2011, and I am at the “Rusty Rail Party House” for “Mexican Fiesta Night.” Last year at this time it was “Madison Square Garden Night” and we all sat captivated as George Chuvalo, in staccato-like fashion, listed name after name of Madison Square Garden legends and what it meant to him to be at The Garden that first time when they turned all the lights down and shone one bright light to each fighter. Who could ever forget Chuvalo vs. Patterson, The Ring magazine Fight of the Year? Chuvalo, now in his 70s, continues to soldier on, and is still a wonderfully articulate Iron Man. This year is a celebration of the Mexican Iron Man.

I sit thinking about the faces, the visages of Carlos Zarate, Ricardo “El Finito” Lopez (if that nickname does not spell out to you what kind of ring night you would be in for with Lopez, well maybe you are in the wrong place with the wrong guy), and Julio Cesar Chavez. Due to flight difficulties neither Lopez or Pipino Cuevas have yet arrived.

I think as well of Ruben Olivares. It was if the “Fabulous Forum” was made for Olivares. Olivares finished with over 100 fights against the likes of Bobby Chacon, Danny Lopez, Art Hafey, Alexis Arguello, “Chuco” Castillo, Jesus Pimentel, Lionel Rose, and a legion of other great fighters. Olivares, a true champion, always so accomodating and always so gracious at these Hall of Fame events, sits with a relaxed smile on his face, relaxed I suspect in knowing just how very very great he was in applying his craft. He jokingly warms over the crowd by stating, in reference to his fight with the great Arguello, “After I was knocked down the second time the referee said ‘Do you want to continue?’ and I said ‘Sure, next week!”’

It has been a long day and my mind wonders for a moment to filmmaker Sergio Leone’s For a Few Dollars More. These champions still look like they could punch the lights out of anything coming their way. These are tough faces, from tough places; tough guys through and through. My mind wonders a little more before the festivities start. I am still thinking of spaghetti westerns and violence. Perhaps it’s those faces. Or perhaps in my exhaustion it’s the fact that I am sitting beside my good friend, the “other Mike.” We won’t use last names here as the “other Mike” designs little goodies for the U.S Defense Department.

I recall another old spaghetti western, The Mercenary I believe it was called. Early on in the movie the male lead catches a gambling dice cheat. Mr Cheat is forced to eat his own dice and our male lead says, “When you get them back, I suggest you don’t use them again!” Zarate, Lopez, Chavez, Olivares….swallow leather and swallow it deep and often. While Meldrick Taylor and Alfonso Zamora were no cheats, but were rather great fighters, the tools of their trade, their dice, boxing gloves in kind, were never to be used again at the same level after their respective bouts with Chavez and Zarate. Indeed, I remember watching the “Z” bombs on TV back in the 1970s. I was convinced that Zamora was the Second Coming of Olivares. In hindsight, of course, that was silly, as there will only ever be one Olivares. The “Z” bombs entered the ring with a combined 67 wins and 66 knockouts without a loss. In the background the TV audio was playing the recently produced cover remake of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by the band Santa Esmeralda, with a Big Latin Beat. Well, there was a Big Latin Beat when Zarate destroyed Zamora, even though Zamora’s career faded rapidly after that. He rode off into the Mexican sunset, as it were, done before he reached the age of 30.

If you were to take these four greats—Zarate, Lopez, Chavez, and Olivares—and combined their mutual records, before any of them lost a fight you would be looking at an amazing 252 wins and three draws! Zarate, Lopez, and Olivares are all from Mexico City. Zarate, Lopez, Chavez, with their pugilistic bloodlines, have sons carrying on the tradition with Zarate Jr., Alonso Lopez, Chavez Jr. and Omar Chavez. If you add the young prodigies into the mix you can bump that record, before any lost, to 342wins and five draws. In fact, the sons of the fathers have yet to lose. It’s in the blood, all those fights, all that violence, all that pride and honour. Viva El Campeon del Mundo! To Salvador Sanchez, to “El Maestro” Miguel Canto, to Ramos, Sugar, Mando, to Morales who also attended here tonight, to Vincente Saldivar, to “Gato” Gonzalez, to The Mexicans, we salute you. Let the Fiesta begin! My Tecate please. Could it be any better than here in Canastota with these great champions Friday night? Others at the Hall to salute to the Great Mexican Champions include Marvellous Marvin Hagler, Ken Norton, and John Stracey. Nacho Beristain, the man who helped teach many champions to paint the canvas red, is also here and will be inducted in the Hall of Fame this weekend.

Boxing is dead my ass!

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Ruben Olivares Jesus "Chucho" Castillo

Carlos Zarate fights Alfonso Zamora

Ruben Olivares TKO9 Bobby Chacon Part 1/4

Ruben Olivares TKO9 Bobby Chacon Part 2/4

Ruben Olivares TKO9 Bobby Chacon Part 3/4

Ruben Olivares TKO9 Bobby Chacon Part 4/4

Salvador Sanchez Tribute from ABC

Vicente Saldivar vs Sugar Ramos Part 1

Vicente Saldivar vs Sugar Ramos Part 2

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