Hector 'Macho' Camacho: Underrated Star Leaves Lasting Legacy in Boxing

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2012

Courtesy of Associated Press (h/t CBS News)
Courtesy of Associated Press (h/t CBS News)

The boxing world lost one of its most enduring personalities on Saturday, when Hector "Macho" Camacho passed away just days after being shot in the face and neck in Puerto Rico. 

An outpouring of love and support for Camacho during this sad, tragic ordeal has helped to shine a light on just how important the former three-division world champion was to the sport and why his legacy will live on forever. 

Camacho's professional boxing career lasted 28 years, from 1982 to 2010, and included some of the biggest fights in recent memory. Bouts with Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya and Sugar Ray Leonard catapulted Camacho into superstardom. 

In his career, Camacho posted a record of 79-6-3. He was never the best fighter on the planet, but his unique style and ability to connect with an audience made him one of the biggest draws in the sport at his peak. 

Boxing is a sport that practically begs for fighters with huge egos, but just listen to the way that people talk about Camacho, and you can see that he was not your typical boxer. 

Luis Muniz, Camacho's cousin, told Adry Torres of ESPN.com that all the fame, money and glamour never changed who Camacho was:

My cousin showed everybody love. When he came around, when he came across, he inspired. He had a great personality. I know that it devastated a lot of people out here because he is a Boricua that made it. He was a great boxer. He had great personality. He showed everybody love. He was never cocky.

Boxing needs more good personalities—fighters that fans are able to root for. Camacho gave everyone something to root for, because he knew what his ultimate role was. Winning is first and foremost for any athlete, but in an individual sport, you have to sell yourself. 

Camacho understood that better than most, and he did everything he needed to in order to make the people believe in him and love him. 

You see a fighter like Floyd Mayweather, who wants to be the villain, and it has made him a lot of money. But the boxing world needs more heroes. Camacho gave you something to root for, even as he was at the end of his career and just holding on to his former glory. 

It is impossible to understate what Camacho was able to do for the sport of boxing in the 1980s and '90s. He helped usher in a new era that was more about flamboyant personalities and playing to the crowd than being controversial for the sake of being controversial. 

Camacho was not a perfect person. He battled various personal demons throughout his life. There was cocaine reportedly found at the scene where Camacho was shot. And, according to the New York Times, "he was arrested numerous times on charges including domestic abuse, possession of a controlled substance, burglary and trying to take an M-16 rifle through customs."  

But personal demons aside, Camacho helped bring boxing back to the spotlight thanks to his unique ability to connect with an audience. The boxing world lost a great ambassador this weekend.