Hall of Fame champion fighter Bobby Chacon, who died Wednesday, Sept. 8, near Lake Elsinore under hospice care for dementia at age 64, will be remembered in the Northeast Valley as not just a champion boxer, but as a man who was always approachable.
People in the community loved him and he loved them back. He was one of the local boys who made it, a graduate of San Fernando High School and California State University, Northridge and people proudly cheered him on.
The sport took it’s toll on the boxer who suffered nuerological damage after his long career, but still, until recent years, he could still be seen at local community events, in a boxing stance with fists up and a big smile posing for photos and doing his best to sign an autograph. He had much difficulty talking but he still tried and he used his winning smile and big love he radiated to communicate back to those who approached him. He never turned down a request for a photo.
News of his death spread quickly in his hometown of San Fernando via Facebook. Jorge Grinnz Gemeniis Negrete wrote, May he Rest In Peace, and his legacy live on forever!!! BOBBY CHACON!!! CHAMPION!!! LEGEND!!!
Riverside County coroner’s Sgt. Brent Seacrest said Chacon died at his home “with his family present at his bedside.”
Gary Ballin, Chacon’s barber in San Fernando and a long-time friend, said friends “were protective” of Chacon as his issues with dementia became more pronounced.
“In recent years people knew his condition and always wondered what his capabilities were. He had trouble with his speech and his gait,” Ballin said. But Bobby’s hand-and-eye coordination were excellent. One time he and a friend came over to the VFW in San Fernando to shoot some pool. And he was beating everybody, game after game.”
As a fighter, Chacon’s toughness and courage were his undoing, Ballin said. “He took too many punches. But he took them because he could take them. He was too brave for his own good.
Sylmar resident Patricia Yribe was a classmate of Chacon’s at San Fernando High School in 1969 and 1970. She was the godmother to Chacon’s daughter Johna.
“He was a man with a big heart,” Yribe said. “He was that way with all his friends. Very sweet, very kind, very gentle. In high school he was not really into school. People loved him, even though school was not his thing.”
She said it was difficult to see him with his advanced dementia. “He would still recognize me and still was the same kindhearted person. He seemed to be aware of his situation and was sad about that. But…he also lived a hard life. his first wife committed suicide and one of his sons was murdered in Panorama City. So he had some difficulties.”
Former football star Anthony Davis, who lives in Sylmar, recalled playing Little League baseball with Chacon. He was also at the Los Angeles Sports Arena for the Lopez fight for the
“What I remember is Bobby always had smile on his face,” Davis said. “And believe it or not, even as kid he was tough. Nobody would mess with him even then.”
As a fighter, Davis said, Chacon was tough. “He didn’t take no trash from anybody. He always stood his ground. He was great.”
Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005, the former WBC featherweight and super featherweight champion went 59-7-1 with 47 knockouts in a 16-year pro career. The Southern California native engaged in numerous memorable fights, including victories over rival Rafael “Bazooka” Limon, Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Danny Lopez and Ruben Olivares.
He also beat future trainer Freddie Roach and lost to Alexis Arguello and Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini.
‘’One of the most exciting fighters in the history of the West Coast, an amazing blood-and-guts brawler who took on the best fighters in three divisions,” said Ricky Farris, president of the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame.
Chacon was nicknamed “Schoolboy” by boxing publicist Bill Caplan.
During his career, he competed with some of boxing’s best, including Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, Ruben Olivares, Danny “Little Red” Lopez, Ramon “Bazooka” Limon, Cornelius Boza-Edwards and Alexis Arguello.
He rose to fame fighting in the Southland, earning him a 1973 bout against Olivares, a fight that he lost but that earned him a reputation as a hard-nosed brawler. One year later, he defeated Lopez, and another year later, he won the featherweight title.
He lost that belt, but battled his way through a series of epic bouts
before winning the super-featherweight title in 1982 by defeating Limon. He followed up that victory in 1983 by defeating Boza-Edwards in what was dubbed the Fight of the Year.
“He had a great personality and was always laughing and smiling, and he would make friends with everyone he met,” boxing promoter Don Chargin told Yahoo Sports. “He was a promoter’s dream. He was a great, entertaining fighter, he was great at press conferences and you could take him anywhere to meet people because he had that charisma.”