SAN JUAN – Puerto Rican boxing great Hector “Macho” Camacho, shot in the head last week, was declared dead Saturday after being removed from a respirator, a doctor said.
His death brings a tragic end to a career that saw Camacho triumph in three weight classes but struggle with drugs and alcohol.
Highlights of his career included wins over legends such as Roberto Duran of Panama and American fighter Sugar Ray Leonard, whom Camacho knocked out in five rounds.
Camacho, who was 50, suffered a heart attack overnight Friday and doctors later disconnected him from life support equipment, said Dr. Ernesto Torres, director of Centro Medico de Rio Piedras, where the boxer was admitted after being shot Tuesday.
“There was nothing else we could do for him,” Torres said.
Camacho had been declared brain dead on Thursday. His relatives were informed as soon as he was taken off life support Saturday, the doctor said.
Camacho’s mother, Maria Matias, said Friday she accepted the doctors’ opinion that the three-time world champion could not recover.
The ex-fighter was shot on Tuesday while in a car in San Juan outside a liquor store. The boxer’s driver, Alberto Mojica Moreno, 49, was killed in the shooting.
It was not known if they were deliberately targeted or simply caught up in a random act of violence. The bullet damaged three arteries in Camacho’s neck, crippling the flow of blood to his brain.
Camacho was one of the most colorful boxers of the 1980s, winning world titles at super lightweight, lightweight and light welterweight.
Camacho moved with his family as a child to Spanish Harlem in New York. He repeatedly got into trouble and ended in detention at the age of 15.
He discovered boxing, did well at the amateur level and eventually went pro.
With a career record of 79-6-3 with 38 knockouts, he took on all comers, including big names Oscar De La Hoya, Julio Cesar Chavez, Sugar Ray Leonard, Felix Trinidad, Ray Mancini and Greg Haugen.
But battles with drugs and alcohol led to numerous brushes with the law outside the ring.
In 2005, he was arrested in Mississippi for allegedly trying to rob an appliance store and for carrying the drug Ecstasy. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and served some time, but eventually got out on probation.
Earlier this year, US police charged him with child abuse for allegedly slamming his son into the floor at his ex-wife’s home in Florida.
Torres said Camacho’s organs cannot be donated because of the length of time he was kept on life support.
Puerto Rico’s sports and recreation department director Henry Neumann said a wake for Camacho would start on Tuesday at 11:00 am local time, at the department’s Nilmarie Santini field in Santurce.
The event will wrap up by early Wednesday, when Camacho’s remains were to be returned to New York where he will be buried, said Betsy Rivera, a coroners’ spokeswoman.