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L.A. Sports World Loses “Chiquilin,” Photographer Extraordinaire

David A. Avila

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Chiquilin

One of the icons of Los Angeles sports journalism, Jose “Chiquilin” Garcia Martinez, passed away last week. Though not very tall in physical height, he wielded a powerful influence on those who knew him.

“Chiquis,” as some called him, always wore a baseball hat adorned with medals and trinkets. And he almost always placed it backwards on his head, the better to take fast action shots of boxers, baseball players and other sports figures.

For one half century Chiquilin crossed paths with sports figures like Ruben Olivares, Fernando Valenzuela, Hugo Sanchez, David Beckham, Kirk Gibson, Magic Johnson, Oscar De La Hoya and Kobe Bryant.

Or maybe they crossed paths with Chiquilin?

No other sports journalist, especially a sports photographer, ever wielded as much influence as Chiquilin who could convince a much revered sports athlete to come out of hiding or an entire team to give a gathering of reporters a few minutes of time. He always seemed to be everywhere for every event.

Ironically, he never drove or owned a car in Los Angeles.

Always dressed in humble attire Chiquilin was an integral part in building the Spanish newspaper La Opinion into a force in Southern California. It was one of the leading Spanish language newspapers in the entire U.S. for a number of decades.

Fernando Paramo, the former sports editor for La Opinion, said when he became sports editor in the early 1980s he joined forces with Chiquilin to scour the sports world for their readers. Los Angeles was the center of sports as the Olympics arrived, Dodgers fought for pennants, Lakers won titles and the soccer world began arriving along with large influxes of Latinos from other countries.

“We were there when Julio Cesar Chavez won a record 100 wins, when he beat Meldrick Taylor and when he lost to Frankie Randall. We were there when jockey Laffit Pincay got seven wins and when Kirk Gibson hit the home run in the World Series. Any of the large events Chiquilin was there taking photos that we sent all over,” said Paramo. “We were like the Associated Press.”

When Fernando Valenzuela became an instant phenomenon in 1981 as a young teen-age pitcher for the Dodgers, one of the first to greet the Mexican southpaw was Chiquilin.

“He took Fernando Valenzuela around the area to help find him a house when he first arrived,” said Paramo. “Valenzuela was very shy.”

Bill Caplan, a sports publicist for many decades, said for as long as he can remember Chiquilin was a revered and beloved photographer who hardly ever spoke English but could communicate almost magically.

“We had our own kind of language. I don’t know how to explain. I don’t speak much Spanish and he didn’t speak much English but we always understood each other,” said Caplan laughing at the memory of their conversations.

Caplan said it was Chiquilin that helped introduce Dodger great Valenzuela to the late great newspaper columnist Allan Malamud who would go on to introduce the Mexican star to the English-speaking world.

Over the years Caplan saw the influence and recognition that the hustling Chiquilin had with major sports stars and his knowledge of the sports world.

“Once I was hired to do publicity for Julio Cesar Chavez in Arizona during his comeback and I asked Chiquilin if anybody would come to the fight,” said Caplan. “He told me it was going to sell out. It did. There were not even seats for the press, the promoter had sold them.”

“Hijo”

Chiquilin’s influence crossed borders as well.

Ricardo Jimenez, a former reporter for La Opinion and now a publicist, said when working with Chiquilin it was like an adventure. And, that the sports photographer seemingly knew everyone.

“Once we had to cover an event in Mexico City and we were on deadline and I asked him how we were going to send it? Don’t worry hijo,” said Jimenez. Hijo means son in Spanish. “He always called everyone hijo.”

Jimenez said that night in Mexico City, Chiquilin walked with him out of the stadium and crossed a few streets and took him to a dark building and then into offices where people greeted Chiquilin by name and allowed them to send the stories and photos to Los Angeles.

“He knew everybody,” said Jimenez. “And everybody knew him.”

Jimenez also said he had a strong sense of duty as a journalist.

“Chiquilin would always say we have to cover all the major sports,” said Jimenez, who was an intern at the Los Angeles-based newspaper when he first met Chiquilin. “When we began covering the Lakers they used to put us in the rafters and he would be shooting from way up there at the Forum. Pretty soon they (Lakers organization) knew we were serious about coverage and we were sitting down below. Chiquilin would leave early and take the bus to the office to process the photos. He never drove. He knew all the bus routes.”

Nobody hustled like Chiquilin.

ChiquiTron

He was a one-man army if necessary. Sports was in his blood and he did whatever it took to move the needle forward. One way he covered his own costs was obtaining tickets from athletes and selling them for money and favors.

“He sold so many tickets to people we used to call him ChiquiTron,” joked Paramo in reference to Ticketron.

Eventually an undercover officer caught Chiquilin selling tickets for an event and he was forced to go to court in front of a judge, explained Paramo.

“Once at a big fight an undercover cop got him for selling four ringside tickets. He goes to court and was asked by the judge: how do you plead? Chiquis said: ‘no contest with an explanation. I’m a photographer, I send pictures to Mexico. People over there asked me to get them some tickets for the fight. So I bought them. But they couldn’t make the fight. I make $4.50 an hour and the tickets cost so much, that’s almost half of my week’s salary and so that is the reason I have to sell them.

Judge says ok. We’ll wave off any fine. Can I see you in the chambers? So Chiquilin goes and meets the judge who asks him for tickets to a big game, so he sold them to the judge. That’s the kind of guy Chiquilin was.”

Paramo said that super stars like Muhammad Ali and power executives like Peter O’Malley would accommodate Chiquilin. Even in the cutthroat world of boxing he was known and trusted.

“When Tommy Hearns fought Pipino Cuevas they left the purse money with Chiquilin. That’s how much trust they had in him,” said Paramo adding that he put the cash in his photography bag.

Joel De La Hoya, the older brother of Oscar De La Hoya remembers meeting Chiquilin during the return from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

“I remember him asking for a team uniform when we were in Big Bear for one of our first training camps at our compound,” said De La Hoya. “I gladly obliged. Every camp there after I would hook him up with DLH apparel. He was very grateful and we were as well for those famous Chiquilin shots. He always got the shot.”

The Master

During these last few years Chiquilin’s health deteriorated and he was unable to scramble for photos on the boxing apron or chase the action photo of a lifetime.

“Once after an important soccer game someone asked him did you catch the ball going through the net?” said Paramo. “No, he answered, but not even the goalie did. That was Chiquilin.”

Caplan said a few years back he renewed his vows with his wife and asked Chiquilin to be the photographer and he obliged. After hours of taking photos of the family event which included boxing great George Foreman as a guest, he met with the photographer to pay him.

“Chiquilin wouldn’t take any money, no matter what,” said Caplan. “He was such a great guy. If I talk anymore I’m going to cry.”

Speaking for myself, I met Chiquilin around 1993. He was always very giving of his time and through the years he would greet me as a kind of fellow hustler, someone who like himself, tried to cover everything. We crossed paths so many times I couldn’t possibly put a number on it.

One time, about 20 years ago, I was involved in a heated discussion with a person who had several accomplices at a boxing event. Words were exchanged and other reporters could see it was a dangerous situation about to explode. I expected the worst but I wasn’t going to retreat and they weren’t going to retreat. More challenges were made and I countered those challenges and was willing to accept whatever came regardless if it was me against six. Suddenly, I hear a voice next to me and it’s Chiquilin asking me “hijo, you need help?”

I never forgot that. Of all the people there who knew me and could see trouble about to erupt, only Chiquilin stepped up to assist me if necessary. The smallest guy was willing to go up against these massive guys. That’s the kind of man he was.

I will never forget Chiquilin as I’m sure many others will never forget the massive heart of this great human being and a grand master to us all. It’s the end of an era and he will be greatly missed by those who knew him.

Chiquilin was the father of two daughters and lived with his wife in Huntington Park.

Memorial Services information

The memorial services take place on Saturday March 2, at Guerra Cunningham Bagues 6351 Seville Ave. Huntington Park, Calif. 90255. The viewing begins at 11 a.m. Rosary takes place from noon to 1 p.m. Viewing ends at 3 p.m. For more information call (323) 582-6197.

Photo: “Chiquilin” is flanked by La Opinion colleagues Fernando Paramo (l) and Rigo Cervantes

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Fast Results From Latvia: Mairis Briedis and the KO Doctor advance in the WBSS

Arne K. Lang

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briedis vs glowacki

The semifinal round of the Wold Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament played out today in Riga, Latvia, the hometown of Mairis Briedis who was matched against Poland’s Krzysztof Glowacki. Both fighters had only one blemish on their ledger and in both cases their lone defeat came at the hands of Oleksandr Usyk.

The fans left happily after Briedis (26-1, 19 KOs) knocked out Glowacki (34-2) in the third frame. But it was messy fight that invites a lot of second-guessing and likely a challenge from the Glowacki camp.

After a feeling-out first round, Briedis cranked up the juice. An errant elbow landed behind Glowacki’s head, putting him on the canvas. For this discretion, Briedis was docked a point. A legitimate knockdown followed — Glowacki was hurt — and then another knockdown after the bell had sounded. The referee could not hear the bell in the din. It was a wild scene.

The fight was allowed to continue, but didn’t last much longer. Coming out for round three, Glowacki wasn’t right and Briedis pounced on him, scoring another knockdown, leading referee Robert Byrd to waive the fight off at the 27 second mark. It wasn’t Byrd’s finest hour.

The tournament organizers anticipated the complication of a draw and assigned extra judges to eliminate this possibility. They did not anticipate the complication of a “no-contest.” If the outcome isn’t overturned, Briedis, a former WBC cruiserweight champ, is the new WBO title-holder.

Dorticos-Tabiti

In the co-feature, Miami-based Cuban defector Yunier Dorticos, nicknamed the KO Doctor, lived up to his nickname with a smashing one punch knockout of previously undefeated Andrew Tabiti. The end for Tabiti came with no warning in round 10. An overhand right left him flat on his back, unconscious. Referee Eddie Claudio didn’t bother to count. The official time was 2:33.

It was easy to build case for Dorticos (24-1, 22 KOs). He was three inches taller than Tabiti, packed a harder punch, and had fought stronger opposition. But it was understood that Tabiti, now 17-1, had a more well-rounded game. Moreover, there were concerns about Dorticos’ defense and stamina.

Dorticos was ahead on the scorecards after nine frames. He rarely took a backward step and let his hands go more freely. And it didn’t help Tabiti’s cause that he was docked a point for holding in the sixth frame. Earlier in that round, an accidental clash of heads left Dorticos with a cut over his right eye. The ringside physician was called into the ring to examine it and let the bout continue.

With the victory, Dorticos became the IBF world cruiserweight champion and moved one step closer to acquiring the coveted Muhammad Ali trophy in what will be, win or lose, the most lucrative fight of his career.

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Angel Ruiz Scores 93 Second KO in Ontario, CA

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Angel Ruiz

(Ringside Report by Special Correspondent Tarrah Zeal) ONTARIO, CA – “Path to Glory” featured some of Southern California’s hottest prospects carving their image into the boxing world through the Thompson Boxing Promotions platform at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, CA Friday night.

Undefeated welterweight prospect Angel Ruiz (14-0, 11 KO) of Maywood, CA finished veteran Miguel Zamudio (43-13-1, 27 KO) from Los Mochis, Mexico with an impressive stoppage at 1:33 in the first round scheduled for eight.

At 21 years young, Ruiz (pictured) came into the night with four KO wins in his last four bouts and looking to continue his streak. A second-round body shot win over Gerald Avila (8-17-3) on May 10th and first round KO win against Roberto Almazan (8-9) just this year.

Ruiz was just getting started in the ring using his long distance and power punches to punish Zamudio.

Twenty seconds into the opening round, Ruiz’ mouthpiece went flying out and a timeout was called. Once the mouthpiece was placed back in, Ruiz administered a quick flurry of punches but with no exchange from Zamudio, referee Raul Caiz stepped in and stopped the main event fight.

After the fight interview Ruiz was asked about what he saw in the fight, “I see this guy. He wants to fight. He was trying to fight but I’m too hard. I got you.” Ruiz said. “I feel ready. I want to fight with the best.”

With 89 amateur bouts under his belt, although not signed with any promoters, Ruiz is verbally challenging Vergil Ortiz, “Vergil if you see this video, remember me”.

Brewart

In he co-main event, a six round junior middleweight bout, Richard “Cool Breeze” Brewart (6-0, 2 KO) of Rancho Cucamonga, CA won a unanimous decision over Antonio “El Tigre” Duarte (2-1) of Tijuana, Mexico.

Brewart was coming into the fight looking like the faster, more technical fighter of the two. Duarte over-telegraphed all of his punches, allowing Brewart to use his overhand right and awesome agility to angle out of reach.

Even after Duarte checked Brewart on the chin with a strong punch, Brewart’s power punches always ended the rounds. The judges scored the bout 60-54 twice and 59-55 for Brewart.

Other Bouts

A victorious unanimous decision at the end of a six-round toe-to- toe bantamweight fight was given to Mario “Mighty” Hernandez, (8-1-1, 3 KO) of Santa Cruz, CA over lefty Victor “Lobo” Trejo Garcia (16-11-1, 8 KO) from Mexico City, Mexico.

Continuous hard punches were exchanged from both brawlers starting at the bell of round one. Fans were excited after a flurry of punches and then a clear push from Hernandez sent Trejo to the floor at the end of round three, giving the crowd excitement for the coming rounds.

It deemed to be a bit of a challenge for both, as orthodox Hernandez managed to match southpaw Trejo’s overhand right punches with his own in response. After six rounds of continuous action two judges scored the bout 57-56 and one 59-54 for Hernandez.

In what would be an exciting and entertaining four-round heavyweight bout, Oscar Torrez (6-0, 3 KO) from Riverside, CA took on Allen Ruiz (0-2) of Ensenada, Mexico.

A surprising uppercut from Ruiz, in the beginning of round one, put Torrez on the canvas and every eye in the room were all fixated on both brawlers. The look in Torrez’ eyes were more calculated, as he was careful from then on.

Wild punches were being thrown from Ruiz without fear of repercussion, but then a quick liver shot from Torrez sent him to his knees. After a couple of seconds to adjust back into the bout, Ruiz was then checked again by left hook to the chin knocking out his mouthpiece. There were 20 seconds left in round two and the round ended with no mouthpiece.

Torrez showed he was stronger and the more technical fighter and finally ended the bout by KO with a right hook to Ruiz’s body at 1:08 in the third round.

Jose “Tito” Sanchez, a rising featherweight prospect with two knockouts in his first two fights and training under star trainer Joel Diaz, out of Indio, CA, took on veteran Pedro “Pedroito” Melo (17-20-2, 8 KO). Even with his low experience in the professional boxing world, Sanchez showed his maturity in the ring by controlling the fight when following Melo around the ring and landing clean left hooks and powerful body shots. After four rounds Sanchez won by 40-36 on all three cards.

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Is the UFC Purchasing Premier Boxing Champions?

Miguel Iturrate

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UFC Purchasing PBC?

Several news outlets are reporting that the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s parent company Endeavor is in talks with Al Haymon to purchase the Premier Boxing Champions. The deal is far from happening and will be complicated if it is completed. Let’s look at some of the details.

Dana White has been the face of the UFC since the brand was purchased by Zuffa in 2001 and over the years he has repeatedly hinted about invading the world of boxing. In his early days as the UFC’s head honcho, White even challenged his biggest star, Tito Ortiz, to a boxing match. The match never happened but to this day White will tell you he would have beaten Ortiz in a fight under Queensberry rules.

In more recent years the UFC co-promoted the Conor McGregor versus Floyd Mayweather Jr match and White, although he would vehemently deny it, also had to have at least tacitly approved of Oscar De LaHoya’s promotion of the third bout between Ortiz and his rival Chuck Liddell. That match-up was likely assessed by White this way: “If Oscar wants to promote MMA let him lose his money,” but he didn’t stand in the way of De La Hoya and his Golden Boy Promotions.

White’s name has also come up in connection with Anthony Joshua. White is said to have had a huge offer ready for the then heavyweight champion, but he backed off when the realization hit that he could not make matches for Joshua in the way he is accustomed because he had no roster of potential opponents. However, White has been insistent that the UFC will “100 percent get into boxing.”

Under new owners Endeavor, White cannot operate like he did under old owners Zuffa, but if the deal goes down it is likely because White crafted some type of long term vision that he sold to Endeavor co-founder and CEO Ari Emanuel (pictured).

When Endeavor purchased the UFC in July of 2016 for a reported $4.05 billion, White agreed to guide the company for at least five more years, of which roughly two are up.

On the flipside, it is difficult to see Al Haymon relinquishing control of PBC. More than likely Haymon would stay in charge of the PBC wing and Endeavor would serve as a cash cow to keep what he has built going.

Haymon must stay aboard for another reason, though few will say it. The reason is ethnicity. If Haymon is left out, that would basically leave Leonard Ellerbe and his boss Floyd Mayweather Jr as the only prominent African-American promoters in boxing and that would not be a healthy situation.

Premier Boxing Champions has a diverse group of fighters among the over 200 pugilists under contract. Some are African-American as are many of Haymon’s key employees and associates. Frankly, at least a portion of those fighters and employees would not feel the same comfort level they have with Haymon if Emanuel, a member of an influential Jewish family (his brother is former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel) and Vegas power broker White were abruptly substituted.

Another effect on the PBC model is on the promotional end. Haymon has cobbled together a group of promoters that operate regionally under his PBC umbrella. The model that Endeavor brings with the UFC will have a more centralized approach to promotion. How will the new owners deal with Lou DiBella in NY, James Leija and Mike Battah in Texas, and Tom Brown in California? Throw in the aforementioned Ellerbe and Mayweather, who operate primarily in Vegas but also in the Washington DC and Baltimore area. How will the promoters who work with the PBC see their relationship change if Haymon left and Dana White was in charge?

Haymon has built the PBC over the years into a big business. He has the PBC on FOX and Showtime whereas the UFC, which previously partnered with FOX, now has a long-term deal with ESPN. This suggests that if a deal is made, PBC and the UFC will have to operate as completely separate entities under the same umbrella, at least for the foreseeable future. And even that might be further away from happening than most people realize.

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