The Legacy Of Mexican Boxing Great Carlos Palomino

By Ross Everett

Its not whether you win or lose, its how you play the game. That may be the oldest sports cliche in the world, but for the mainstream sports media, and the fans that depend on them for their information, its just not true. Its all about whether you win or lose. Turn on any sports talk radio show and you’ll be subjected to all manner of banal discussion to reinforce my point. Karl Malone and Dan Marino weren’t truly great because they never won a championship. The Utah Jazz and Buffalo Bills weren’t great teams because they were unable to take their sports ultimate honor. If teams and players aren’t being berated for a failure to win, they’re simply forgotten. If you can name the losing team in the past ten NBA championships you’ve got a disturbing knowledge of meaningless sports trivia.

The mainstream sports media also likes to depict boxing as a repository of sleaze, but the reality is that more so than other sports ‘the sweet science’ cares about ‘how the game is played’. Boxing pundits place great emphasis on the competitive quality of a fight–great fights like the Morales-Barrera trilogy, Hagler-Hearns or Hagler-Leonard are considered such for the heart and resolve shown by the fighters, not because of who won. The 2004 fight between current ‘pound for pound’ king Manny Pacquaio and Juan Manuel Marquez is a perfect example–despite breathtaking action from start to finish the fight was ultimately ruled 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.

As a fighter, Palomino was much more technical and deliberate than the ‘blood and guts’ stereotype of a Mexican fighter. He had deceptive power, and a left hook that could end a fight, but would more often break his opponent down over the course of a fight with a punishing body attack and relentless pace. While he might not fit the mold established by men like Julio Cesar Chavez and Erik Morales, Palomino no doubt rates among them as one of the greatest fighters in the proud history of Mexican boxing legends.

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