Bobby Chacon tangles with Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Chacon winning a unanimous decision in May 1983 in Las Vegas. It was named Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine/Photo courtesy of Getty Images, Ring Magazine
Bobby “Schoolboy” Chacon played host to a reporter from this newspaper in the fall of 2000 at the Skid Row gym where he was teaching kids the art of the sweet science.
By then, Chacon already had been stricken with pugilistic dementia, the result of his many ring wars.
Chacon had lost his wife, Valerie, in 1982 to a self-inflicted gunshot wound brought on by her husband’s refusal to quit boxing.
Nine years later, Chacon’s son Bobby Jr. was the victim of gang violence when he was shot and killed at 17. That’s not to mention Chacon’s own issues with drugs and alcohol.
Yet, Chacon — “the pride of Pacoima” — never stopped smiling. His tough life aside, he would constantly show up at local boxing cards, cracking jokes that had so many laughing. Sadly, it all came to an end Wednesday when Chacon died at 64. Chacon suffered a bad fall in a dementia care facility in Hemet that led to his death, said Ricky Farris, president of the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame.
“As sad of shape as he was in, he was the guy who was always laughing and happy,” said Don Chargin, who promoted many of Chacon’s fights. “He wasn’t one of those mean guys, where they get a little bit of that dementia, they get sullen and mean.”
Chacon boxed professionally from 1972-88, compiling a record of 59-7-1 with 47 knockouts while winning world titles in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005.
Chacon’s ninth-round stoppage of Danny “Little Red” Lopez in 1974 at the L.A. Sports Arena was just one of Chacon’s many epic victories. Chacon also took on Rafael “Bazooka” Limon four times, going 2-1 with a draw. In their fourth fight, Chacon won a 15-round unanimous decision in a super featherweight title fight in Sacramento in 1982. Chacon was decked twice, Limon once. That was named Fight of the Year by Ring Magazine.
There were Chacon’s two fights with Cornelius Boza-Edwards. Chacon was stopped by Boza-Edwards in the 13th round in 1981 in a super featherweight title fight in Las Vegas. Chacon came back to win a 12-round unanimous decision over Boza-Edwards in 1983 in Las Vegas. It was another Chacon fight that Ring Magazine honored as Fight of the Year.
Abel Sanchez, trainer of middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, grew up in West Covina. Like all area fans, he embraced Chacon during his heyday.
“I think he brought the kind of mentality that has been lost in recent times in our boxing business,” Sanchez said via telephone from London, where Golovkin will defend his title Saturday against Kell Brook. “I think now it’s more of a business, where as back then fighters were warriors; fighters fought like the old-timers did.
“Bobby’s fights with Boza-Edwards are something to learn from and study. He was one-of-a-kind for our Southern California fighters. He just personified the Mexican warrior that we, as fans, want to see in our fighters.”
Longtime promoter Bob Arum said it well in one short sentence.
“He was a tremendous fighter and a big attraction,” he said.
Chargin recalled that Chacon-Lopez sold out the L.A. Sports Arena in 1974. Four months later, Chacon won the featherweight title with a ninth-round TKO of Alfredo Marcano in September at the Olympic Auditorium, then knocked out Jesus Estrada in the second round in his first defense, also at the Olympic.
“That was another night the fire marshal made us quit selling tickets,” Chargin said.
Fellow Hall of Fame fighter-turned-promoter Oscar De La Hoya of East L.A., a big draw in his day, identified with Chacon. De La Hoya on Wednesday said, in part, “Hailing from Southern California, Bobby was someone I looked up to as a young fighter growing up in East Los Angeles. Bobby had the natural talent, good looks, personality and power to be a memorable fighter in the ring that attracted crowds.”
Chacon fought two days after his wife committed suicide in March 1982, stopping Salvador Ugalde in the third round in Sacramento.
“They were a cute little couple and she really wanted him to quit, and he didn’t,” Chargin said. “They had a terrible fight and he said, ‘I’m not quitting,’ and she committed suicide. Naturally, I called the fight off and started to come back to L.A., and I got a call from Bobby’s attorney and he said they were going to bring a lawsuit against me if I called off the fight.”