Status: President of WBC.
Born On: May 30, 1931 In: Ciudad Victoria, Mexico
Childhood Heroes: “I loved baseball and my three idols were Bob Feller – who conquered me with his fantastic speed. Stan Musial – because I believe he was one of the greatest hitters of all-time. He was discreet and unpretentious. They know they’re great and they show it with their actions. Joe DiMaggio – with his Latin temerpment and his great all-around ability. Plus charisma.”
Hobbies/Interests: “Photography. I believe I’m an advanced amateur. I have participated in several exhibitions with my son (Jose). He’s an artist. It takes me away from this convulsive, controversial life that I have in business as well as boxing. Photography gives me an open door to the beauty of nature, the beauty of people. I specialize in faces, close-ups, natural portraits, circles. Circles attract me very much.”
Favorite Movies: “The Adventures of Tarzan – the first movie I ever saw. The Prince And The Pauper with Errol Flynn, which conquered my heart.”
Musical Tastes: “Light classics, romantic music, Perry Como, Tony Bennett.”
Early Boxing Memory: “I started boxing when I was a kid. I used to fight in – what we call in Mexico – ‘hor’s d’oeuvres fights.’ That is a child – between eight and ten – being pushed into the ring without a shirt or shoes, to fight someone of equal age for a round. I knew boxing from the very bottom. I knew the fighters who fought back then for peanuts. I know their dreams, their blood, their suffering, everything. That’s how I grew up, even though I was always the son of a wealthy businessman. My life has always been with poor people and with boxers.”
Pre-Fight Feeling: “I’ve learned to control myself and to really love all the fighters. After the fight I feel emotions that I cannot understand. Sad for the loser, happy for the winner. Usually I know both boxers…their dreams and aspirations, their desire to go to the peak. I know how frustrated they are when that doesn’t happen. I made it a point of my life…I always visit the loser first, to see that he’s okay. And to give him my heartfelt sympathy. And to tell him, Boxing is like life…you win and you lose. I tell him that he may be a champion again in the future. And I go to see the winner, give him my congratulations, eventhough he doesn’t need it. The winner always has so much going on around him. Like bees to a honeycomb.”
Favorite Boxers To Watch: “Muhammad Ali – the greatest of all-time, without question. Raul ‘Raton’ Macias – my greatest hero in Mexico. Julio Cesar Chavez. Mike Tyson. Boxing needs Tyson. He brings to the ring a sensation unusual to the contemporary world, uncontrolled action, a passionate style of boxing. When he fights, he lets go everything he has to let go. He keeps his instincts within himself, but that’s what people like to see. I know him well. I know of his true compassionate heart to be true. I know when he goes to Mexico, he goes on the street looking for poor kids. He takes them and buys them clothes, food and popsicles. That has always touched me deeply. That shows me he’s not just one of those brutes who goes to destroy. He has that thoughtfulness.”
Favorite Meal: “Mexican tacos. Lebanese kebe. Or hamburger. But I wouldn’t so no to a nice Wendy’s hamburger and Diet Coke [smiles].”
Greatest Sports Moment: “I would say when the United Nations presented me with a citation in New York for the WBC’s and my personal 19-year fight against Apartheid – the legal opposition to human equality. In attendance that day were Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Ray Leonard, Larry Holmes, Roberto Duran, Julio Cesar Chavez, Marvin Hagler and Gerry Cooney. That was the happiest and most honorable time in my life. It shows people take notice for people who work for good things against evil. That’s why my most beloved things are Don Quixote and, without a doubt, my passion for Jesus Christ.”
Most Painful Moment: “Every time I see a boxer that takes the path of no return. The saddest moment of my life. I feel like dying.”
Favorite Fights: “Ali-Frazier I. Not only the fight, but almost everyone in attendance was a celebrity. Duran-Leonard I – the way they behaved against each other before the match itself. The weigh-in. Then the fans filled the arena with their emotions. What an atmosphere. Salvador Sanchez-Wilfredo Gomez – My God! The passionate emotions of the Puerto Ricans against the Mexicans in the arena at Casears Palace. The bongos and congas, then the Mexican maracas. All three fights were fantastic, from beginning to end. Also, Chavez-Haugen, with 136,000 in the Azteca Stadium. When the lights went out, the laser rays moved all around. It was a fantastic sensation.”
People Most Admired: “The people who come from the slums and go all the way to the top by their effort. I admire people who succeed by hard work and sacrifice. One of the people I admire is Don King. He was hit every day of his life – attacked, punished, doubted, repulsed. But he keeps fighting and winning. You have to admire people like that. I admire loyalty. Loyalty is the most sacred feeling in humanity. Loyalty also means honesty. All boxers. They come from the humblest of beds, fight all of their lives. When they become champions, they really are champions of the world. They fought for it and won it.”
Family: Wife, Martha; sons, Jose, Hector, Fernando, Mauricio; daughters, Lucy, Claudia.