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Julio Cesar Chavez, the Boxing Hall Of Fame, and Being Mexican

Mexican boxing legend Julio Cesar Chavez– better known as “The Caesar of boxing”, or “The Great Mexican Champion”, or really, the reason we became fans of what many consider to be a dying-a-slow-death sport– was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame Museum today alongside Mike Tyson and Sylvester Stallone. Quite a heavyweight group of inductees right there.

Chavez goes down in history as one of the greatest boxers of all time, having won his first 89 fights before losing in a somewhat controversial fashion to American boxer Frankie Randall in 1994. Through the course of his career, Chavez was world champion six times and was adored– almost to a fault– by the Mexican public. He still is. Not to take anything away from their accomplishments, but his immortal status amongst Mexican boxing fans is a major reason why his two sons–Omar Chavez and WBC Middleweight Champion Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.– have a very strong following.

More than just a boxer, however, JCC was the epitome of Mexican pride in the form of an athlete (we’re saying all of this through the lens of a mid-20-something’s foggy and romanticized memory, so take it with a grain of salt). Speaking on a personal note, there is one specific point in our life in which Julio Cesar Chavez played a pivotal role. We are, of course, talking of his 1992 bout against Hector “El Macho” Camacho.

If we remember correctly, Chavez vs. Camacho was just as much about two great fighters boxing for the WBC Light Welterweight title as it was a battle for bragging rights between Mexico and Puerto Rico. How could it not? From a hype perspective, pitting two insecure groups of people against each other is a surefire way to get eyeballs to watch.The boxers, too, were complicit in this. Camacho walked in wearing an outlandish outfit that had the Puerto Rican star and stripes while Chavez’s crew entered the ring with an absurdly large Mexican flag.

This absurd narrative was sold to us, and we happily forked over the cash. In our young and ignorant mind, we felt like this was an all-or-nothing moment. Should Chavez lose, being Mexican would equal inferiority. That didn’t happen. After 12 rounds, Chavez won by unanimous decision and kept his belt. But more importantly, it was probably the first time in our life–we were seven or eight years old, mind you– that it was okay to feel pride for where we come from.

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