November 28, 2012

Direct Kick: Camacho died like he lived, violently

By Denis House
Sports Editor

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — In the end life all comes down to choices. Hector “Macho” Camacho made a bad choice last Thursday night that ended up costing the former boxing great his life.

Camacho, 50, was back home in Puerto Rico. San Juan to be exact, when he was shot in the face while sitting in a parked car with a friend, Adrian Mojica Moreno, when an SUV pulled up alongside the vehicle and opened fired. Moreno was killed instantly, while Camacho was taken to the hospital, where he was declared brain dead. Saturday morning his family decided to take him off life support, thus ending the turbulent, violent and flamboyant life of the man known as “Macho.”

A fierce competitor in the ring who never backed down from a challenge, it seemed Camacho was almost destined to die violently since his birth, when his mother, who had separated from his father, left the island of Puerto Rico and settled in the tough streets of Spanish Harlem in New York. He grew up fighting, both legally and illegally. He captured three New York City Golden Gloves titles. Along the way he also spent time in the notorious Rikers Island for car theft, just the start of his numerous brushes with the law and one of the first of his many bad choices.

Even after he achieved fame and fortune in the ring, he still flirted with disaster and continued with the bad choices. There’s a consequence to every choice, whether good or bad. Good choices lead to good things. Bad choices are called that for a reason.

Inside of the ring, Camacho won most of his battles, as his 79-6-3 record (with 38 knockouts) proved. He was a multi-time world champion in various weight classes, and he fought a Who’s Who in boxing: Oscar De La Hoya, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard, just to name a few. Sometimes brash (he once sent an opponent a pair of ladies panties) and often outlandish (his ring attire was proof of that), he made sure that, win or lose, he stuck out in a crowd when boxing still meant something.

But it was outside of the ring where he made bad choices. After his career was over, drugs started to take a more prominent role in his life, which led to several altercations with the police. Last year, he was shot three times in an attempted carjacking in San Juan. He survived that shooting.

He wouldn’t be that lucky Thursday.

Nine small bags of cocaine were found in Moreno’s pockets, while one bag was open in the car. Were drugs the motivation for the shooting? That’s been speculated but not confirmed. Had he chosen not to get in that car, Camacho would be alive today. Another bad choice.

Trouble followed Camacho wherever he went, as did the specter of Death. In the end, Death was one of the few opponents Camacho couldn’t beat.

The choices Camacho made throughout his life eventually caught up with him, and cost him his life. What can we learn from his death? Think before you make a choice. In the end, the wrong choice could mean your life.

On a side note here, I would like to thank Debbie Cloud Prewitt for the photo she took of the North Laurel boys on the cover our basketball preview special, which came out in last Friday’s paper.