Friday, November 26, 2010

Mexican Boxing Legend Carlos Palomino In Profile

By Ross Everett

Vince Lombardi once said "Winning isn't everything, its the only thing". For most of the mainstream sports media, that couldn't be more true. Countless hours on sports talk radio are spent deriding NBA players like Charles Barkley and NFL players like Dan Marino for never winning a championship. Simply stated, no one remembers the runner up and the mainstream sports media helps reinforce this 'frontrunner' mentality.

At the same time, the mainstream sports media takes every opportunity available to bash boxing, but the reality is that the 'sweet science' more so than any other professional sport places a great emphasis on the quality of a fight as much as its eventual outcome. Fights like the Gatti-Ward trilogy, Hagler-Hearns, Hagler-Leonard are considered classics, and in most cases were very tightly contested bouts. A great case in point is the 2004 'fight of the year' between Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquaio. Despite nonstop action, the official verdict in the bout was a draw.

Fighters can even be criticized for not having any losses on their record. While the highest level fighters like Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Rocky Marciano are certainly exceptions, an undefeated record can often suggest a poor level of opponent as much as it does fistic superiority. A glossy won/loss record alone isn't enough to cement a legacy of greatness in the glorious history of boxing--that has to be earned inside the ring with heart, skill, toughness and character.

For a combination of accomplishment and championships, along with class and humility, few fighters can match welterweight great Carlos Palomino. A native of Sonora, Mexico, Palomino held the welterweight title for two years during the late'70's. While he was champion, he earned his college degree from Long Beach State University in California and in the process became the first reigning world champion to do so.

Palomino came to the US as a child and began to train as a fighter during his teenage years. After a stint in the Army (where he earned the All Army Welterweight Championship) and a National AAU title he turned pro in'72. Four years later, he become welterweight champion of the world by knocking out John Stracey in London, England. Palomino would defend his belt seven times over the next two years before losing it to another great, Wilfred Benetiz, via split decision. He retired from the ring shortly thereafter.

After his boxing career ended, Palomino took on another challenge as an actor. He's worked steadily both in movies and television, appearing in shows like "Taxi" and "Hill Street Blues" along with countless action films. He's done a number of commercials, live theater work and has always devoted a lot of his time to charitable causes.

In the ring, Palomino wasn't the typical Mexican fighter stereotype. He was an intelligent, very tactically sound fighter with underrated power and a lethal left hook. More typically, however, he was a fighter who'd break his opponent down slowly with a punishing body attack. Despite not being a typical straight ahead power puncher like so many of his countrymen, he's no doubt among the greatest Mexican boxers in history.

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