By José Sulaimán – Sorcery in Boxing
In conversation among friends, Julio Cesar Chavez and his red headband comes up, and how he began to use it to step into the ring for all his fights. I told them it was a defense against sorcery. Don King offered the first and only fight through which, in more than 10 years as undefeated world champion, Julio Cesar would dispute a title not recognized by the WBC.
Unable to make super featherweight, he had to face his gym mate and friend “Zurdo” Ramirez, who was WBC lightweight champion. Julio was very hesitant, because he wanted to let Ramirez make a defense. For me it was also difficult as President because both were unswervingly loyal to the WBC and I had great respect and friendship for each.
I convinced him to do so. Julio always had my unwavering confidence.
But first against Edwin Rosario, the WBA champion, Julio earned more than $600,000, the highest purse then. He decided to go through with the fight, and then immediately give up the title and after that, he would face Ramirez. The fight was signed. People came to tell him Rosario was making black magic in Puerto Rico, focused on him. And that they had his picture upside down in the refrigerator in an ice bucket.
A friend of Macho Camacho’s advised Julio to get into the ring wearing something red. That would unsettle Rosario and break the witchcraft. So … Julio climbed into the ring with a wide red ribbon on his forehead. Earlier in the locker room, Julio’s heartly laughter rang out, seeing the late and great manager Don Cristobal Rosas with that bright red ribbon on his completly bald head!
There I saw the serenity of Julio Cesar, who came to the ring to give a comprehensive drubbing to Rosario, making the Puerto Rican fighter’s manager throw in the towel and stop the fight.
Julio César relinquished that title after the fight and was crowned WBC Lightweight World Champion after tremendous fight against his great friend, southpaw Ramirez.
I had already had several experiences with sorcerers, but one that came to mind was when Ultiminio Ramos was to defend his world featherweight title against Floyd Robertson in Ghana. We expected his arrival in Accra on a flight from Paris, accompanied by his famous manager, Kid Rapidez.
All the passengers descended the plane’s steps, but there was no sign of them. We thought they had missed the flight, but both then peered through the door of the plane. Ultiminio first and behind him, Kid Rapidez with a cross about four feet long. He said he wanted protection against the witchcraft he had been warned they would use against him in that country.
Ultiminio won by decision and Ghana raised a fuss. The local commission overruled the decision, and named Robertson World champion. It would be only in their country, because for the WBC, Ultiminio remained the champion.
Sorcery and superstition has been part of boxing for as long as I can remember. After all, it is a sport in which, when the bell rings, there is nothing more than two human beings throwing punches. No rest for even a second, until the bell rings once again. It is a truly unique sporting competition between two individuals, exactingly testing the finest physical and mental condition.
So, there is also a great devotion to many boxers, especially in Latin America. It is natural to see in most dressing rooms a small altar on which Christ is placed or The Virgin of Guadalupe. Manny Pacquiao crosses himself before the beginning of each round. Others kneel towards their corner to entrust to God and to cross themselves before beginning to fight.
That is boxing.