Hector “Macho” Camacho was one of the most colorful figures professional boxing has ever seen, bringing a new flair to the sport in the 1980s and 1990s. Known for his outlandish costumes, his quick and precise punches, and his bigger than life charisma, “Macho” skyrocketed to fame and became a contentious fan favorite. But his struggles with cocaine and alcohol often led him to trouble. A new documentary details his life, his addiction and his 2012 murder, which remains unsolved.
Camacho was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Spanish Harlem in New York City as a young boy with his mother and sisters. His talent was spotted at a young age while street fighting, and several coaches and trainers tried to keep him out of the trouble he was often getting into by focusing his energy on boxing. At one point, a mentor had to intervene with the judge presiding over a teenage Camacho’s car theft case, promising to take responsibility for the young man and steer him on a productive path.
As he progressed quickly up the ranks of the boxing world, he drew in fans with his seemingly endless fount of confidence, and his over-the-top costumes at match introductions. He came dressed to matches as a Roman gladiator, a fireman, Uncle Sam, an American Indian in headdress, among other things. On one occasion, he wore a diaper and pantomimed a baby.
Throughout his career, he faced off against some of the biggest and most respected names in boxing, and spent the first 10 years of his career undefeated, going 38-0 between 1980 and 1990. In 1982, when he was only 20 years old, he won $50,000 after he knocked out Johnny Sato after four rounds. In 1986, he beat Edwin Rosario at Madison Square Garden to retain the WBC lightweight title. Perhaps most famously, he knocked out Sugar Ray Leonard to hold on to the IBC middleweight title in 1997, sending Sugar Ray into retirement.
But as fame that followed his success in the ring, so did his darker proclivities. Camacho was arrested several times, including for cocaine possession and domestic abuse. Through it all, his talent and persistent belief in himself buoyed his appeal with fans.
“He was a relatable guy in the sense that even though he had this huge showman’s persona, and he had this world-class ability, he also had flaws. He got into trouble and it was all public,” Eric Drath, who directed a new documentary about Camacho, told Inside Edition Digital. “I think what was relatable about him is that he was so human. He made big mistakes, but people like it when you make mistakes and you dust yourself off, and you get back up.”
As the toll of a three-decades-long career started to wear on Camacho, so did the lifestyle that he partook in outside the ring. By the end of the 2000s, after dozens of arrests for drugs and domestic abuse, he had moved back to his native Puerto Rico, and had a record of 79-5-3, having lost only five fights and ended three in a draw. He fought his last match in 2010, a forgettable loss to Saul Duran. Though he intended to fight again, he never would.
On Nov. 20, 2012, , Camacho was sitting with a friend, Adrian Mojica Moreno, outside a popular bar and grill on Highway 167 in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. Camacho, then 50 years old, had given up on getting in shape for a last ditch attempt to reboot his career. As Camacho sat in the passenger seat of his friend’s Mustang, an SUV pulled up.
“They were in the car sitting there, and about 15 minutes later, another car pulls up. Two guys get out, and they go to the window,” Drath said. “The guy that was sitting next to Camacho gets out of the car, tries to run away. He's gunned down, and then afterwards, they go to Camacho, and they shoot him.”
Moreno was killed in the attack. Camacho was shot in the jaw, and the bullet traveled through his head and into his shoulder, lodging in his carotid artery. After he suffered a heart attack that night, his doctors said Camacho had minimal brain activity. Four days later, his devastated family took him off life support. Police said that nine bags of cocaine were found in the Mustang.
“Before Hector's death, he was down in Puerto Rico and he was hanging out with a lot of underworld-type of characters,” Drath told Inside Edition Digital. “There's a theory that potentially he mixed it up with some of the wrong guys, and something happened, which led to his assassination.”
Drath and his crew traveled to Puerto Rico during the making of his film, “Macho: The Macho Camacho Story,” to try to find new leads. To date, no arrests have been made in the case.
“At first, when we got to the police, we really got nothing. It had been seven years and they were still saying it's an open investigation, and they couldn't help us,” said Drath. But after working some connections back in New York, he got set up with authorities overseeing the case. “We actually got involved with the FBI and were able to get further along and find out new information.”
It is unclear whether Camacho was the target of the assassination, or an unfortunate casualty of shooters aiming for Moreno. The shooting took place in the early evening, around 7 p.m., in front of a popular watering hole, but witnesses willing to come forward have been few and far between. But Drath told Inside Edition Digital that his research, paired with information they got from authorities, has given him a good idea of what led to the murders.
“Not only do we have a pretty good idea of who killed Hector Camacho,” said Drath, “We think we know who put the hit on him as well.”
Drath expressed dismay over the lack of progress in the case, especially given the stature of Camacho’s legend.
“He was the hero of the streets. People related to him, both for good reasons and bad. But, he was one of theirs, and he never left the street. And what I can't understand, is that if Puerto Rico can't solve the murder of their hero of the streets, then whose murder can they solve?”
“Macho: The Hector Camacho Story” is out now on Showtime.