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Boxing | International

Hector Camacho is dead



Hector Camacho was declared dead on Saturday after being removed from a respirator.

The Puerto Rican, a former world champion, died in San Juan after being kept alive by life-support machines since Thursday.

Camacho suffered a second heart attack early on Saturday morning. Puerto Rico officials planned a public wake at the department of sports and recreation headquarters in San Juan.

His death brings a tragic end to a career that saw Camacho win titles in three weight classes. Highlights of his career included wins over legendary Roberto Duran of Panama and American Sugar Ray Leonard, whom Camacho knocked out in five rounds.

Camacho, who was 50, suffered a heart attack on Friday night and doctors eventually 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 on Tuesday.

"There was nothing else we could do for him," Torres said.

Camacho’s relatives were informed as soon as he was taken off life support on Saturday, the doctor said.

Earlier on Saturday, Camacho’s mother said doctors should switch off life support machines. She wanted it to be done once three more of his sons had a last chance to see him.

Camacho's eldest son, also Hector, still opposed the idea Maria Matias decided it was time for doctors to disconnect the machines.

"I lost my son three days ago. He's alive only because of a machine," Matias said on Friday. "My son is not alive. My son is only alive for the people who love him," she added.

Hector Camacho Jr said he wanted to keep his father alive. "He's going to fight until the end. My father is a boxer," the son said.

BRAIN DEAD

Doctors said on Thursday Camacho was clinically brain dead after being shot in his hometown of Bayamon. However, relatives and friends were still wrestling with the idea of removing him from life support.

"It is a very difficult decision," long-time friend and former professional boxer Victor Callejas, said. "The last thing we lose is hope and faith. If there is still hope and faith, why not wait a little more?"

Aida Camacho, one of “Macho’s” aunts, said the family would decide later whether to donate his organs.

As some relatives and friends continued to pray for a miracle, condolences flowed in for Camacho's family and preparations were being made for memorials and a funeral Mass.

Governor Luis Fortuno lamented what he called a sudden loss. “Macho will always be remembered for his spontaneity and charisma in and out of the ring," he said.

Also offering condolences was governor-elect Alejandro Garcia Padilla, who defeated Fortuno in November.

"The life of Macho Camacho, like that of our other great athletes, united the country," he said. "We celebrated his triumphs in the streets and we applauded him with noble sportsmanship when he didn't win."

FRIEND SHOT DEAD

Camacho was shot as he sat in a car with a friend, 49-year-old Adrian Mojica Moreno, who was killed. Police spokesman Alex Diaz said officers found nine small bags of cocaine in Diaz's pocket and a tenth bag open inside the car.

No arrests have been made and said investigators are still looking for witnesses. They are following several leads, but have declined to say whether any suspects have been identified.

Hector Camacho Jr decried the violence that grips Puerto Rico, a US island territory of nearly 4 million people that reported a record 1 117 homicides last year.

"Death, jail, drugs, killings," he said. "That's what the streets are now."

Camacho's sisters have said they would like to fly Camacho's body to New York and bury him there. Camacho grew up mostly in Harlem, earning the nickname the "Harlem Heckler."



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