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Book review: Mexican American Boxing in Los Angeles by Gene Aquilera


By John J. Raspanti

A few months ago, I found myself wandering the hallways of what was once the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, Calif.


It’s a church now, and when it gets real quiet,  you’ll swear you can hear legendary ring announcer Jimmy Lennon saying, “Introducing on my right, the pride of San Pedro, wearing red velvet trunks with the gold stripe, the youngest man to win the lightweight title, the former light champion of the world, Mando Ramos!” 

That memory popped into my mind after I finished reading Gene Aguilera’s outstanding new book; Mexican American Boxing in Los Angeles.

Aquilera’s book offers the reader a history lesson of the Los Angeles fight scene--from turn of the century fighters Aurelio Herrera and "Mexican" Joe Rivers to the contemporary, like Oscar De La Hoya. 

Some of the boxers he writes about, Enqique Bolanos, Manuel Ortiz, and the original Golden Boy, Art Aragon, I hadn’t read about in years. A copious collection of vintage photographs really brings home the grit and power of the fighters and the world they knew.

Aquilera lovingly depicts the sixties and seventies with stories and photos of the likes of Bobby Chacon, Danny Lopez, Armando Muniz, Carlos Palomino, and Herman Montes.


He devotes just as much time to boxers who didn’t win a world title--which makes sense, since so many of them left a part of themselves in various rings around the Los Angeles area. 

Aguilera also writes about the importance that promoter Aileen Eaton and matchmaker Don “War-a-Week” Chargin played in creating so many classic matches.  

The book is rich in detail about a by-gone era, but the author manages to resurrect the ghosts of boxing’s past with skill and passion. 

Tripping down boxing’s nostalgia lane with Aguilera’s book is one enjoyable experience. 


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