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El Muchacho Alegre de Puerto Marqués: Isidro “Sid” Pérez 1964-2012


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They found his body on a street in Mexico City, more battered and bruised than it had ever been in a ring, but boxing, of course, is always a long shot against life. Isidro “Sid” Pérez, dead at 48, was the WBO flyweight champion once, but he was a man whose misfortunes pursued him until the end. Pérez had gone missing in late September, and last week his remains were identified—via photos provided by the Institute of Forensic Science (SEMEFO) in Mexico City—by his sister, Reyna Pérez Jiménez. When Pérez failed to cash his most recent WBC pension checks, family members converged on his room in Mexico City, where they discovered his ID among his sparse possessions. This led to a search for Pérez that ended tragically at SEMEFO. Officials at SEMEFO told Ms. Pérez that her brother died after being struck by a car outside of a Metro station on October 1.

Along with Chango Carmona, Marcos Villasana, and Alberto Morales, Pérez was one of the few boxers from Acapulco (whose perpetual party philosophy apparently discourages prizefighting as a trade) to win a world championship. Although Pérez won a vacant title sanctioned by the youngest and shoddiest Alphabet Group, he was good enough to go twelve close rounds with Jung-Koo Chang and to generate nearly half-a-million dollars in purses over the course of his career.

Born in 1964, Pérez turned pro at age 14 and racked up a 47-3-3 record before he got his first title shot in 1987. Although a bit wild in the ring—he was nearly shut out by Puerto Rican banger Jose De Jesus in San Juan—Pérez was a legitimate puncher. Indeed, Pérez had the kind of power that could give opponents instant catnaps. Too often, however, he lacked the finesse to land the KO blow against world-class opposition. More important, perhaps, Pérez lacked the discipline to train. Drugs, liquor, and parties dulled his edge and lured him away from the gym.

Enrique de Renzis once said that Pérez “punches like a savage,” and Jung-Koo Chang learned that the hard way when Pérez dropped him in the first round of their bruising title fight in South Korea in 1987. Chang recovered—barely—and brawled his way to a narrow decision win, but seven months later he announced his retirement. Even after a few lackluster performances, the fledgling WBO approved Pérez as an opponent for its vacant flyweight title. On August 18, 1990, Pérez stopped tough spoiler Ángel “Cuso” Rosario in the 12th round in Ponce, Puerto Rico. But Pérez was already deep into a love affair with drugs and liquor by then. No longer a disciplined athlete, Pérez had little chance of enjoying a long title reign. “I could have made many more defenses,” he once said. “But everything was alcohol and cocaine.”

Fighting on the road had never been a problem for Pérez, and he continued his itinerant ways as champion, stopping Alli Gálvez in Chile and then signing to face Pat Clinton in Scotland. In arguably the most exciting fight of his career, Pérez rumbled with Clinton from bell to bell in front of 10,000 delirious Scotsmen in Kelvin Hall in Glasgow on March, 18, 1992. Clinton came out motivated for the twelfth when his cornermen produced a photo of his deceased father between rounds. Pérez protested the decision. After the fight, Tommy Gilmour, who promoted Clinton, was asked about a rematch. “No,” Gilmour said, bizarrely. “The Mexicans didn’t grant a rematch at the Alamo.”

Pérez quit the ring partly in disgust at his loss to Clinton and partly because he was busy pursuing another calling: self-destruction. But in the late-1990s, Pérez made one of those pathetic comebacks that last only long enough for a former champion to become a trialhorse overnight. After being knocked out in the second round by an “opponent,” Pérez finally retired for good in 1997 and finished his career with a record of 57-9-3 with 41 knockouts.

For a while Pérez tried his hand at managing in Los Angeles, but his demons could no longer be kept in check. He traded everything he had earned for a decade of squalor. From Los Angeles to Arizona to Mexico, Pérez was in and out of hospitals, rehab centers, and AA clinics. “I was finished with everything,” he told La Jornada in 2010. “I lost my wife, my children, my homes, land, cars and apartments. I even sold my gold.” Finally, after turning to religion, Pérez began to clean himself up. “It was a miracle of God,” he said about his recovery. “He was the only one who could rescue me. And now I walk because of His will, because my will is no good; it is weak.”

Over the last few years Pérez worked as a trainer in Mexico City, with a comebacking Miguel Ángel González one of his only notable charges. “Every morning I train my fighters in the Nuevo Jordan Gym,” Pérez told Esto. “I haven’t been able to assemble a big group because the kids leave when they realize that boxing is a tough sport.”

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This post relies on the following sources: El Nuevo Herald, La Jornada, Esto, and KO Magazine. All translations from the Spanish are by The Cruelest Sport.

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Tags: Flyweights Isidro Perez Jung-Koo Chang