Ernie Lopez

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Ernie "Indian Red" Lopez
Ernie Lopez.jpg
Photograph of Ernie Lopez, March 1, 2004, by Jennifer Long, Los Angeles Times.
Statistics
Real nameErnie Lopez
Nickname(s)Indian Red
Rated atWelterweight
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
NationalityUnited States American
Born1945
Fort Duchesne, Utah U.S.A.
DiedOctober 3, 2009
Pleasant Grove, Utah U.S.A.
Boxing record
Total fights62
Wins51
Wins by KO6
Losses10
Draws1
 
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Ernie "Indian Red" Lopez
Ernie Lopez.jpg
Photograph of Ernie Lopez, March 1, 2004, by Jennifer Long, Los Angeles Times.
Statistics
Real nameErnie Lopez
Nickname(s)Indian Red
Rated atWelterweight
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
NationalityUnited States American
Born1945
Fort Duchesne, Utah U.S.A.
DiedOctober 3, 2009
Pleasant Grove, Utah U.S.A.
Boxing record
Total fights62
Wins51
Wins by KO6
Losses10
Draws1

Ernie "Indian Red" Lopez (September 23, 1945 – October 3, 2009), was an American professional boxer. He twice fought for the world welterweight boxing title, losing title bouts to José Nápoles in 1970 and 1973.[1] He was a missing person from 1992 to 2004 and was the subject of extensive press coverage in early 2004 when, after being selected for induction into the California Boxing Hall of Fame, he was found at a homeless shelter in Fort Worth, Texas.

Early years[edit]

Lopez was born on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation in Fort Duchesne, Utah.[2][3] His mother was a Ute Indian, and his father was a Juaneño.[4] however, neither of his parents were of full Native American parentage and he is mostly Irish decent.

Lopez attended Orem High School in Orem, Utah, where he chose boxing over football.[5] He married as a teenager and moved to Pasadena, California, where he boxed out of the Pasadena YMCA. He later recalled that he learned to box from his father and added, "But sometimes I learned when I watched my father hit my mother."[4]

Professional boxing career[edit]

Lopez became a popular boxer in Los Angeles during the late 1960s and early 1970s, fighting out of the Los Angeles Main Street Gym for much of his career. His brother, Danny "Little Red" Lopez, also went into boxing and became the world featherweight champion. Both of the Lopez brothers were managed by Howie Steindler.[4]

Lopez was given the nickname "Indian Red" because of his flaming red hair and Native American heritage. In 1968, when Lopez became the first Native American boxer to be ranked as the No. 1 contender in any weight class, Pulitzer Prize winning sports writer Jim Murray wrote:

"I don't know how he is as a prize fighter, but Ernie (Indian Red) Lopez certainly is disappointing as an Indian. I mean, he doesn't look like something John Wayne would chase down the street shouting something about 'damned redskin.' 'Damned redhead,' maybe. But, Lordy, the skin is even freckled! Now, whoever heard of a red-headed, freckle-skinned Indian? ... 'What was your Indian name?' I asked Indian Red? 'Ernie,' he told me."[2][6]

Lopez had a career record of 51-10-1,[5][7] and fought bouts in England, Hawaii, Japan and Mexico. In 1967, Lopez wore an Indian chief's headdress into the ring in a match against Musahi Nakano in Japan. Lopez said, "I bought the thing at Disneyland to take over with me. ... I liked it so much I was going to keep it. But it turned out they have this custom in Japan where the fighters exchange gifts before the fight. Nakano gave me a samurai warrior's jacket and I gave him the headpiece."[2]

Lopez's three bouts against Hedgemon Lewis in the late 1960s drew extensive media coverage. Going into the first fight in July 1968, Hedgemon Lewis was undefeated in 23 bouts, and both fighters were considered top contenders in the welterweight class. Lopez won the first bout in a ninth round knockout, which the Los Angeles Times described as follows:

"Like Gen. Custer at Little Big Horn, Hedgemon Lewis got to wondering where all those Indians were coming from. And like his ancestors, Ernie (Indian Red) Lopez staged a fistic massacre Thursday night when he battered the previously unbeaten Lewis into a state of helplessness before a roaring turnaway mob of 10,400 at the Olympic Auditorium."[8]

Lopez won two out of the three bouts with Lewis. In 2004, Lewis said of Lopez, "He was aggressive and always on the attack. Ernie was a crowd-pleaser because he was a fighter. Period. He fought."[4] Actor Ryan O'Neal, who managed Lewis when Lewis fought Lopez, added, "Lopez was a warrior. He was also a gentleman, a decent man. But as a fighter, Lopez would hit the other guy so much he would become exhausted. Because of that, Lopez would always fill an arena, because he would give the fans their money's worth.... It was his heart that made him win."[4] Another writer said of him, "He was an aggressive fighter who knew only one direction: forward."[7]

Title bouts against José Nápoles[edit]

On February 14, 1970, Lopez got a shot at the world welterweight boxing title in a bout against Cuban Jose "Mantequilla" Nápoles in front of a sellout crowd at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Lopez was knocked down in the 1st, 9th, and 15th rounds before the bout was called as a technical knockout in the 15th round.[7] In 1971, boxing writer Dan Hafner said of Lopez:

"It is the misfortune of Ernie (Indian Red) Lopez to come along when one of the all-time greats, José Nápoles, rules the welterweight division. The fiery, part-Ute Indian demonstrated beyond doubt on Thursday night that he is the class of the rest of the 147-pounders. In his smartest and possibly best fight of his career, Lopez pounded out a unanimous, one-sided 10-round decision over highly regarded Oscar Albarado and gave a masterful performance."[9]

Sugar Ray Leonard, who watched Nápoles fight Lopez, shared a similar opinion, "If it wasn't for Nápoles, Ernie probably would have been champion."[7]

Lopez got a rematch against Nápoles, and a second shot at the title, three years later on February 28, 1973—again in front of a sellout crowd at The Forum. The second bout proved to be a turning point in Lopez's life. Lopez had reportedly won the first six rounds, and Nápoles had cuts above and below his eye and on the bridge of his nose.[4] At the start of the seventh round, Nápoles hit Lopez squarely in the face, and Lopez fell to the canvas, where he lay unconscious for three minutes. After the knockout, Nápoles cradled Lopez's head and repeated, "Please wake up. Please wake up."[4]

Wanderer and missing person[edit]

Reports indicate that Lopez's life went into a tailspin after the 1973 loss to Nápoles. He fought two more bouts and lost both in technical knockouts. He was divorced from his wife and took to a life of wandering. His brother, Danny Lopez, said, "It was the losses to Nápoles and the divorce that sent Ernie into a tailspin. He was a hurt man."[3] Lopez's ex-wife also attributed the decline to the loss to Nápoles: "I think he lost confidence, his goal was destroyed. He was depressed and angry. We started having marital problems."[7]

For twelve years from 1992 through 2004, Lopez was out of touch with his family and was considered a missing person.[4] His ex-wife said, "The last time I saw him, he was kind of a street person. That was in 1992. He gave up all of his possessions and then went out in the world like a person wandering. It was really sad because he just gave up."[5]

Rediscovery and Hall of Fame[edit]

In early 2004, Lopez was selected for induction into the California Boxing Hall of Fame.[4] With the impetus of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department agreed to assist Lopez's family in trying to locate him.[4] In February 2004, Lopez was discovered living in a homeless shelter in Fort Worth, Texas. When contacted by his ex-wife in 2004, Lopez stated, "I'm not lost. I'm right here."[4] On learning of his selection for the Hall of Fame, Lopez told the Los Angeles Times, "Why are they doing this for me? I wasn't good enough for the Hall of Fame."[4] Shortly thereafter, Lopez was re-united with his four children and 23 grandchildren.

Lopez's story became the subject of multiple newspaper and television stories, with reporters and television camera crews coming to the homeless shelter to interview him.[4][5][7] He told the Los Angeles Times at the time that he did not recall why he moved to Fort Worth, but he recalled "living with a church family in Missouri, shoveling snow for a hotel owner in Portland, Maine, sleeping in New York's Central Park, working construction in Florida and cleaning hotel rooms in Phoenix."[4] He told another reporter, "I've been all over the United States. Might have missed a few states, but it's sure a nice place. But I never stayed too long anywhere."[7]

Death[edit]

On October 3, 2009, Lopez died in Pleasant Grove, Utah from complications of dementia at age 64.[3]

Professional boxing record[edit]

48 Wins (24 knockouts, 24 decisions), 13 Losses (6 knockouts, 7 decisions), 1 Draw [1]
ResultRecordOpponentTypeRoundDateLocationNotes
Loss7-2United States Kenny LouisKO107/07/1987Tennessee Omni New Daisy Theater, Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Loss38-3-1United Kingdom John StraceyTKO729/10/1974England Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London, United KingdomReferee stopped the bout at 2:25 of the seventh round.
Loss27-4-1United States Armando MunizTKO726/07/1973California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United States
Loss74-5Cuba Jose NapolesKO728/02/1973California Inglewood Forum, Inglewood, California, United StatesWBC/WBA World Welterweight Titles. Lopez knocked out at 1:36 of the seventh round.
Win15-16Mexico Jose Luis BaltazarKO510/11/1972California Los Angeles Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, United States
Win59-25-6United States Manuel "Speedy" GonzalezRTD512/10/1972Nevada Sahara Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, United States
Loss73-12United States Virgin Islands Emile GriffithUD1030/03/1972California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United States4-5, 4-5, 2-5.
Win28-4-1Mexico Sal MartinezTKO320/01/1972California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United StatesReferee stopped the bout at 1:28 of the third round.
Win39-4-1United States Oscar AlbaradoUD1028/10/1971California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United States8-3, 8-2, 10-1.
Win16-2United States Manuel FierroUD1016/09/1971California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United States7-2, 7-2, 9-0.
Win22-21-2United States "Dangerous" Danny PerezTKO208/07/1971California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United States
Loss68-11United States Virgin Islands Emile GriffithMD1003/05/1971Nevada Nevada Sports Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States45-47, 46-46, 45-47.
Win40-42-3Ghana Peter CobblahMD1020/01/1971Nevada Silver Slipper, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win13-9-2United States Cipriano HernandezUD1010/10/1970California Valley Music Theater, Woodland Hills, California, United States9-1, 9-1, 8-0.
Win20-15-1Mexico Ruben "Sandwich" RiveraKO603/08/1970California Sacramento, California, United States
Win25-17-3Mexico Manuel AvitiaKO808/07/1970Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss62-4United States Jose NapolesTKO1514/02/1970California Inglewood Forum, Inglewood, California, United StatesWBC/WBA World Welterweight Titles. Referee stopped the bout at 2:38 of the 15th round.
Win28-1United States Hedgemon LewisTKO1004/10/1969California Los Angeles Sports Arena, Los Angeles, California, United StatesReferee stopped the bout at 2:33 of the tenth round.
Loss27-1United States Hedgemon LewisUD1010/07/1969California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United States4-7, 5-6, 4-5.
Win72-11-2Mexico Chucho GarciaUD1013/03/1969California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United States8-2, 8-1, 11-0.
Win26-20United States Brad SilasKO118/02/1969California Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California, United StatesSilas knocked out at 2:35 of the first round.
Win40-12-1Mexico Raul SorianoTKO930/01/1969California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United StatesReferee stopped the bout at 2:25 of the ninth round.
Win7-27-3Mexico Polo CoronaPTS1031/07/1968Nevada Silver Slipper, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win22-0United States Hedgemon LewisTKO918/07/1968California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United StatesReferee stopped the bout at 1:48 of the ninth round.
Win32-10United States Gabe TerronezUD1230/04/1968California Selland Arena, Fresno, California, United States7-2, 11-0, 11-0.
Loss33-12-1Mexico Raul SorianoUD1003/03/1968Mexico Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico
Win14-1United States Bob "Robert" MurrayUD1008/02/1968California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United States6-2, 7-1, 8-1.
Win21-19-1United States Doug McLeodKO420/11/1967Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win23-16-2Mexico Jose ValenzuelaTKO1012/10/1967California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United StatesReferee stopped the bout at 2:35 of the tenth round.
Win29-3-3Japan Musashi NakanoKO308/08/1967Japan Nagoya, Aichi, JapanNakano knocked out at 0:47 of the third round.
Win5-2Mexico Andy "Speedy" GonzalezKO706/07/1967California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United StatesCalifornia Welterweight Title. Gonzalez knocked out at 2:58 of the seventh round.
Win2-2-1Guam "Dr." Phil RobinsonPTS1013/06/1967Hawaii Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Win8-16United States Ed McGruderPTS1022/05/1967Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win17-17-4United States Frank "Too Sweet" JenningsTKO820/04/1967California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United StatesReferee stopped the bout at 2:15 of the eighth round.
Win37-14-5United States Johnny "Quest" BrooksPTS1027/03/1967Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win30-24-4United States Benito "El Presidente" JuarezPTS1006/03/1967Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss16-5-2United States Adolph PruittUD1012/12/1966Nevada Silver Slipper, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss31-12-5United States Johnny "Quest" BrooksSD1019/09/1966Nevada Silver Slipper, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win31-11-5United States Johnny "Quest" BrooksPTS1022/08/1966Nevada Silver Slipper, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win34-11-5Panama Tito MarshallUD1021/06/1966Nevada Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States47-45, 49-43, 47-43.
Win27-6-2Cuba Jose StableUD1009/05/1966Nevada Hacienda Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win27-10-4United States Johnny "Quest" BrooksUD1204/04/1966Nevada Hacienda Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win19-7-3United States Al GrantPTS1028/02/1966Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win2-2-2United States Mel FieldsTKO314/02/1966Nevada Hacienda Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win12-16-1Mexico Memo LopezKO631/01/1966Nevada Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, United StatesLopez knocked out at 2:14 of the sixth round.
Win26-33-5United States Al AndrewsPTS1017/01/1966Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win25-15-2Mexico Pulga SerranoTKO420/12/1965Nevada Hacienda Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United StatesReferee stopped the bout at 1:32 of the fourth round.
Win8-2-1United States Armand Laurenco LaurincoKO106/12/1965Nevada Hacienda Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United StatesLaurinco knocked out at 2:47 of the first round.
Draw8-2United States Armand Laurenco LaurincoPTS609/11/1965Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win13-12-3United States Billy "Boggy" MarshPTS601/11/1965Nevada Hacienda Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss12-1United States Don MinorUD1222/12/1964Nevada Hacienda Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United StatesNorth American Welterweight Title.
Win6-2-1United States Chappell FunnyeKO819/10/1964California Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, California, United States
Win5-0United States Bernie MagallanesPTS629/09/1964Nevada Castaways Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss11-3-1Mexico Jesse ArmentaKO904/07/1964Mexico Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico
Win3-1United States Joe "Prime Minister" ClarkPTS612/06/1964Nevada Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win22-8-6Mexico Andres HerreraPTS630/03/1964California Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, California, United States
Win0-2United States George "Putting" GreenKO510/03/1964Nevada Castaways Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win--Trini "La Bamba" LopezPTS403/03/1964California Valley Garden Arena, North Hollywood, California, United States
Win9-4-1United States Mickey DavittKO113/02/1964California Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California, United States
Win3-3-3United States Carl "The Snarl" MooreKO304/02/1964Nevada Castaways Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win--United States Armand Laurenco LaurincoPTS621/01/1964Nevada Castaways Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Win--United States John CooprideKO224/06/1963Utah Fairgrounds Coliseum, Salt Lake City, Utah, United StatesCoopride knocked out at 1:04 of the second round.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Indian Red turns up after vanishing act". San Diego Union-Tribune. 2004-03-07. 
  2. ^ a b c Charles Maher (1969-07-04). "Indian Fighter". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ a b c Keith Thursby (2009-10-05). "Ernie 'Indian Red' Lopez dies at 64; welterweight fought before sellout crowds at the Forum". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Diane Pucin (2004-03-04). "Back From the Brink". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ a b c d Robert Morales (2004-03-01). "A WELCOMED RETURN FOR LOPEZ". Daily News (Los Angeles). 
  6. ^ Jim Murray (1968-07-18). "Red Flunks Indian Test". Los Angeles Times. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Pete Alfano (2004-03-06). "Onetime welterweight boxing champion resurfaces in Texas shelter". Knight Ridder Tribune News Service (from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). 
  8. ^ Frank Finch (1968-07-19). "Lopez Scores KO in Ninth to End Streak by Lewis". Los Angeles Times. 
  9. ^ Dan Hafner (1970-10-29). "Indian Red Easily Whips Albarado". Los Angeles Times.