To the Champ;
Genaro, it’s impossible to count all the magical moments that you have given us over the years. Both inside the ring and out, you have always been a class act. Your winning personality combined with your flashy boxing style made the name Chicanito synonymous with the word champion.
Who can forget the night in 1991 when you went over to France and beat Daniel Londas in his own backyard to win the WBA Super Featherweight title? That 9th round TKO started the ball rolling for you. For four years, you defended it proudly until you ran into a guy named Oscar de la Hoya in Las Vegas in 1995.
Losing to Oscar back in the nineties was hardly something to be ashamed of. Caesar’s Palace was buzzing with excitement that night. You and the Golden Boy had leagues of fans and it seemed like they were all there, yelling and screaming. You showed the world that you could handle defeat with the same grace that you displayed when winning. You made us love you even more.
Your split decision win over Azumah Nelson in Texas a couple of years later had us all sitting on the edge of our chairs. Even after taking a blow to the throat and being told you could stop then and get the win–you soldiered on to win it the old-fashioned way. Hard to say how many new fans you made that night. You never failed to give the fans their money’s worth. No one ever left a Chicanito fight feeling let down.
When the news came about your serious and rare form of head and neck cancer, we were all stunned. We prayed, donated money, and attended benefits. Our heart broke for your beautiful family as you began your biggest battle ever. We applauded Bob Arum as he stepped up to the plate and helped with the medical bills.
I have followed your posts on Facebook and marveled at your courage and positive attitude. You faced this demon with pride and optimism. What a great lesson for all of us.
Always remember–we love you, Chicanito.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen