WHERE ARE THEY NOW? "INDIAN YAQUI" LOPEZ!
YAQUI LOPEZ, A GREAT 1970S LIGHT HEAVY
San Rafael, CA-–Alvaro Indian Yaqui Lopez was born May 20, 1951 in Zacatecas, Mexico. His professional record is 65-15, with 42 KOs. Without question, Lopez was one of the most exciting boxers to not win a world title in the late 1970s. Typical of so many pugilists, Yaqui Lopez grew up in poverty. He spent his early years living in a garage below the grandstands of a bullring in Zacatecas. His original goal was to become a famous bullfighter.
NO MORE BULL FOR YAQUI LOPEZ!, Dreams of his being a matador ended when a bull gored a 14-year old Alvaro, who would later slip punches from some of the hardest punchers in the world, was unable to avoid the horns of a charging bull. His ankle was crushed right alongside his hope to be a bullfighter. Lopez would later shine shoes, sold Popsicles before moving on to working in the fields of local farms.
STOCKTON IS A FAMOUS FIGHT TOWN!
Yaqui Lopez moved from Mexico to Stockton, CA, where he met local boxing trainer/promoter, Jack Cruz. This relationship would last for decades. In time, Yaqui became close with Jacks daughter Beno, so close that they eventually married and have two children in Jack and Alvaro Jr.
LOPEZ DID ON THE JOB TRAINING
After a limited amount of amateur fights, Yaqui turned pro and went 31-3 before challenging John Conteh for the WBC title. Yaqui lost a close 15 round decision and would go on to fight for a world title four more times. He fought a whos who of 70s light heavy greats! There were the two scraps with Victor Galindez, a pair of wars with Mathew Saad Muhammad, this before moving from light heavyweight (175 lbs) to cruiserweight (then 190 lbs) to take on Carlos Sugar De Leon for the WBC belt. His second match against Mathew Saad Muhammad, in July 1980, was voted both, Fight and Round (8th) of The Year. There were those who say that Yaqui vs. Saad was the best fight they have ever seen!
ONE MORE CRACK AT A BELT
It was in 1983, late in Lopez career when he fought De Leon for the cruiserweight championship. After all the wars, Yaqui didnt have much left in the tank. Thus, he was stopped by De Leon in the fourth! He knew that was it for him, and even though not officially, Lopez thought his career was through. However, a year later, Yaqui was offered a fight for the California title against Bash Ali, whom Yaqui had already beaten quite easily earlier in his career.
DE LEON SIMPLY TOO YOUNG & FAST!
Lopez went on to loose a close 12 round decision. As Yaqui tells me, by this time, his reflexes, legs and timing had all gone, yet in spite of all those things, he tells me, in all seriousness that he really beat Bash. After the fight, one of the judges went up to Jack Cruz, his trainer, promoter, manager and father in-law and said, We gave the fight to Ali because we dont want to see Yaqui box again. We feel, if he had won, hed want to continue.
BAD DECISION WITH GOOD INTENTIONS?
It worked, Yaqui retired for good. After resting three months, Yaqui went to his wife, Beno, and told her that he wanted to get a regular job. He called a local businessman in town, Ralph White, and told him that hed be interested in working for the local garbage company, Sunrise & Sunset Sanitation. The early hours were a breeze as he was used to waking up early for roadwork, so why not continue waking up early and going to work. Seemed like a good idea. Ralph called back five minutes later and told Yaqui to be at the yard the following morning for work. His future co-workers looked at Yaqui with disbelief. What is Yaqui Lopez doing here at 4: 30 in the morning?
TO THIS DAY, LOPEZ IS STILL ROCK HARD
As you can imagine, Yaqui was a strong and well conditioned individual having boxed 15 rounds with some of historys best light heavies in the world at one time in his life. With this brute strength, Yaqui was lifting the big full garbage cans wrong. He was using his strong back instead of his legs, which is the correct way to lift. What would have put a normal person out of commission in a week, Lopez lasted nine turns of the Roman calendar.
TIME TO HANG UP HIS CAN SO TO SPEAK!
Eventually it did catch up and Yaqui had to hang up the can so to speak, much like he had hung up his gloves almost a decade earlier. Everything happens for a reason. Jack Cruz became sick shortly after Yaquis retirement from the garbage company. Yaqui took it upon himself to look after Jack. As time went on, Jack became sicker and sicker, so much so that eventually he was bed ridden. Until Jacks death in December 2005, Yaqui made sure that he had everything and anything he needed.
TOOK CARE OF AILING MANAGER UNTIL END
He played dominoes with him every day and basically just spent time with Jack and took total care of his sick dying father-in-law. Since Jacks passing in 2005, Yaqui has now taken it upon himself to look after his sick mother, doing all the same things for her that he did for Jack. As a side note, I had to get all of this information from others as Yaqui is shy when it comes to speaking about himself. If we could all be so humble, this world would indeed be a better place
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Yaqui Lopez doesnt have an email address, so feel free to email to me at AndyKNance@Yahoo.com and Ill get them to him. Or, you can leave a comment below.
Note: Andy Nance is a former professional boxer who went 27-1. He has served as President of the Northern California Veterans Boxers Assn. Currently Andy trains and manages several boxers in Vallejo, CA at Drew Trujillos gym. Comments can be left below.