Faithful Departed: “Macho” Camacho

To the world, he was known as “Macho” Camacho, but to my family, he was Héctor Camacho, just another member of the Camacho clan.

Héctor “Macho” Camacho was a Puerto Rican professional boxer with a career spanning more than 30 years. In the 80s and 90s, he held championships in super featherweight, lightweight and junior welterweight divisions — the first boxer to be recognized as a septuple champion. His finesse and bravado in the ring were what made him unique; he was a spectacle in his own right.

Héctor Camacho was not only a boxer, but also a prominent personality. In the Puerto Rican community, especially, Camacho was an icon. He appeared on Spanish language television shows such as Super Sábados, El Show del Mediodía, Mira Quien Baila (the Spanish-language verison of Dancing with the Stars) and the entertainment news program El Gordo y La Flaca.

Macho Camacho is my grandfather’s cousin. My grandpa, Luis Camacho, is a renowned boxing and Olympic trainer in the Bronx. I have been raised around the sport and culture of boxing my entire life. I would accompany my grandpa to his gym, the Bronxchester Boxing Club, in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx. Boxing memorabilia filled his house — belts, gloves, and pictures of my cousin, “Macho” Camacho. I saw Macho fight on pay-per-view and heard stories from my mother about her interactions with him when they were teenagers.

Unfortunately, the stories of his troubles seemed to outshine his boxing feats. Burglary charges, child abuse charges, and substance issues made him seem, for me, more like a disgraced family member than a star athlete. I had never met my cousin, who lived in Puerto Rico for most of my life. When I heard that he had been shot in Puerto Rico and was on life support, I immediately called my mother for more information. My family was devastated. I found out before the media that they were going to take him off of life support — a tragic end for such an accomplished athlete.

Even though I really didn’t know him, his death weighed heavy on my soul; he was family after all. This made me think about all of the “celebrity” deaths that have occurred this year. Regardless of whether or not you personally know someone, we are all children of God and one family on this earth. All negatives aside, no one deserves to be murdered by another human being. Life is sacred, and no one is perfect.

My roommate’s family went to Puerto Rico a few weeks ago and told me how devastated everyone in the country was over Macho Camacho’s death. It’s all anyone can talk about over there, because he was and is a national figure. No one from my immediate family flew to Puerto Rico for the viewing and funeral held there. But this Christmas season, the Camacho family will keep Héctor’s spirit alive through our actions, and his legacy in our memories.