Boxing Champ Chacon's Life on the Ropes

He was known then as "Schoolboy," a brash, hard-punching Latino boxer from Pacoima determined to draw fame and money from his fists.

Two decades later, he can barely remember his address, much less his nickname.

For former boxing world champion Bobby Chacon, life has been a downward spiral since his rise to stardom in the early 1970s.

In those days, Chacon's boyish, clean-cut look and enormous talent quickly turned him into a crowd favorite at Los Angeles boxing venues.

More than 16,000 people packed the Sports Arena on May 24, 1974, to watch Chacon battle undefeated Danny "Little Red" Lopez in a featherweight bout.

The fight, arguably one of the best ever in Los Angeles, was a slugfest until the ninth round, when Chacon dropped Lopez. The referee stepped in and Chacon, 22, was victorious.

Four months later, Chacon won the World Boxing Council featherweight crown with a ninth-round knockout of Alfredo Marcano. He lost the title to Ruben Olivares on a technical knockout in June 1975 and beat Bazooka Limon for the WBC junior-lightweight belt in a 15-round decision in 1982.

That year, Chacon's life started to fall apart. The first of his four wives, Valerie, who had asked her husband to stop boxing, committed suicide. Chacon, however, fought on and off through 1988 and finished with a record of 58-7-1, including 46 knockouts.

Chacon was put on probation in 1984 for beating his second wife. Three years later, he was sentenced to six months in jail for violating that probation.

In 1991, Chacon's son, Bobby Jr., was killed in a gang slaying.

By 1993, Chacon was shuffling, his speech was slurred and he had uncontrollable outbursts of anger, all symptoms of pugilistic dementia.

In November 1995, Chacon pleaded no contest to a charge of selling cocaine and was sentenced to a drug rehabilitation program.

Chacon, a Sylmar resident, remains a big fan of boxing. He is often seen at matches at the Reseda Country Club.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
74°