Of all the blows Hector Camacho Jr. has absorbed, the most
devastating was inflicted by Hector Camacho Sr. "On my seventh
birthday my dad told me he couldn't make the party," recalls the
WBA's No. 1 contender in the super lightweight division. "I was
During the bash, at his mother's Manhattan apartment, the
birthday boy heard his name being shouted and gazed out the
window. On the sidewalk, prancing and leaping as if trying to
master flight, was a spit-curled figure in a Superman suit. "Who
is that nut?" asked one of Junior's pals.
Junior smiled and said, "He's my pop."
Fourteen years later the cartoonish Macho Man and his trusty
Machito form the flashiest one-two combination in boxing. At the
precocious age of 21, Junior is ranked No. 5 or better at 135 and
140 pounds. Though Senior's fists are no longer faster than
speeding bullets, he's still campaigning at 154 pounds. "I'm
Superman," says the brazen 38-year-old, who has won world titles
in every weight class from 130 to 160 pounds and has a career
record of 73-4-2. "My son's Superboy."
Junior is as playful as his old man but a bit more understated.
Junior is also undefeated--his record is 29-0 with 17 KOs. "My
dad's a superstar," he says. "I'm a shooting star."
Senior's fame has been a roller coaster of excess--not the
Warholian 15 minutes of it but a punishing 20 years. Since Hector
Sr. turned pro in 1980, his life has been littered with fast
cars, faster women and even faster arraignments. He was probably
the first world champ to enter the ring in leotards, a dress or a
Roman gladiator's costume, and he was surely the first, A.D., to
box in a loincloth.
Hector Sr. grew up on welfare in Spanish Harlem. At 16 he met
Maida Olivo, and a year later Hector Jr. arrived. "Dad wanted to
make me tough," says Junior. "Once he shut me in a dark closet
and told his friends, 'See, my boy doesn't cry.'"
Senior says he can't vouch for the story's accuracy. "It could be
true, knowing my crazy self," he allows. "I had to learn to be a
Junior is hardly uncritical of his father. "It could be
embarrassing to have the Macho Man as your pop," he says. Besides
getting suspended from boxing in 1985 for failing a drug test,
Senior was arrested for grand theft auto, for an altercation with
a cop at a nightclub and for trying to sneak an M-16 rifle
through customs in San Juan.
Machito doesn't party as hard as his dad, or punch as soft.
"Junior is just as fast and has the same counter moves, cute
turns and angles," says Joe Goossen, the renowned technical
trainer young Camacho hired in May to shore up his inside game.
"The kid uses his right hand much more effectively."
"The idea is to polish what I've already got," Junior says. "And
learn from my mistakes." Dad never did.
So far the biggest mistake Junior has made in the ring was aping
the Old Devil himself. He dominated a 1998 bout with unheralded
Troy Crain until the last 30 seconds of the final round, when he
stuck his chin out and yelled, "Throw, throw, throw...." Crain
threw an overhand right, and Camacho hit the canvas. A wobbling
Macho Boy rose and made the final bell, winning a decision.
He won his most recent bout against former IBF lightweight champ
Philip Holiday on July 29 in Phoenix after Holiday had to retire
with a badly cut eye. Next he's in line for a title shot against
WBA super lightweight champion Sharmba Mitchell. Senior has fewer
opportunities (his last serious opponent was Oscar De La Hoya, to
whom he lost a 12-round decision in 1997) and draws chump change
when he does fight. Junior's biggest payday has been $100,000.
On Father's Day the Fighting Camachos appeared in the same Las
Vegas ring. Junior fought and Senior worked the corner. "Dad
drives me crazy with his screaming and cursing and bouncing off
the ropes," says Camacho the Younger. "Next time, I think I'll
Think again, Junior. "I don't care if the kid is 60 or 70," says
Senior. "If he talks back to me, I'll kick his ass. He's my
COLOR PHOTO: KENNETH L. HOLLIS "Dad wanted to make me tough. Once he shut me in a closet and said, 'See, my boy doesn't cry.'"