Son of “El Torero” fighting for his own dreams
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While many families will be celebrating Father’s Day this Sunday, there will be one young amateur boxer who will be spending this holiday without his dad. Teenage fighter Hector Lopez Jr. lost his father, champion and Mexican Olympian Hector “El Torero” Lopez Sr., last October. A Silver Medalist in the 1984 Summer Olympics, Lopez Sr. passed away from heart failure in Mexico City. He may be gone but he hasn’t been forgotten.
He lives on in his two boys, Hector, 17 and Adam, 16. And while this weekend may be bittersweet for the SoCal kids, the brothers are carrying on in their father’s name and coping as well as they can since the tragic passing. Showing their championship DNA, the teen sluggers no doubt are making their father proud. I caught up with Hector Jr. at a recent boxing function where he was there with his family. During my exclusive chat with the amateur fighter, he conveyed his excitement at all the future plans being built for the summer and beyond.
Little Hector (called “Emiliano” by his father) just graduated from high school and shared his joy at all the new opportunities coming his way.
The ambitious teen just got his first job. “I’m going to be getting a car soon too,” he said. “I’ll be saving up for it.”
He’s also focused on being a boxer by trade, just like his Pops. “I want to win the Golden Gloves next year,” he comments as we talk about future plans. With several amateur bouts in his USA Boxing book, he continues to train with dreams of making the Olympics someday, just like his dad did. Hector Jr. shows me some photos stored in his phone of his father after his ’84 Olympic victory. “You look just like him!” I told the dark-eyed boy. “He was 17 in this photo–my age,” Junior grins.
“I miss my dad a lot,” he says. “He was great; he was such a funny person too!” Hector Sr. was former NABF and WBO NABO Light Welterweight Champion (41-7-1, 23 KOs) as a pro and was a three-time challenger or a world title.
Before the tragedy, Hector Jr. always joined his father for summers in Mexico. He tells me what it was like visiting his dad at the Olympic Village where Hector Sr. trained female fighters for the inaugural women’s competition in the Olympic Games.
“I want to return there,” the teen states. “It was incredible. That’s my dream–I want to fight for Mexico in the Olympics. And that’s what I promised my dad I would do!” He tells me about visiting the training center where the boxers also live and his eyes light up at the memories he has from his visits.
He is like any normal teenager who’s anticipating turning 18 this September. Training hard and working hard to make his dreams come true, Hector says he doesn’t have a serious girlfriend right now. He wants to dedicate his time to his promise to his father, his hero.
His mom Norma is proud of both Little Hector and Adam for being strong after losing their dad last fall. It’s hard to miss the incredible resemblance both boys have to their father. Adam also fights and competes in the amateurs. They are a close family and the Lopez kids have been given a lot of support from their clan. During this get together at Daphne’s California Greek Cafe, Hector is in great spirits as his mother, his Uncle Jimmy and grandmother Sara, as the family celebrates Hector’s graduation from John Burroughs High School.
The future is bright for this young man who is on his way to making a name for himself.
He will always carry his father’s memory and legacy in his heart; the champ will live on in his kids. And both Hector Jr. and his younger brother Adam also have some permanent reminders of their beloved dad.
Inked on both boys are tattoos they got to honor their father. With “Lopez,” “El Torero” and “I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees” (their dad’s favorite saying), the sons of Hector Lopez Sr. will continue to live their lives making both of their parents proud.
Keep your eye on Hector Jr. as he fights to make his dreams–and his father’s dream–come true.
The “Chatter Box” wishes a very Happy Father’s Day to everyone.
Photos by Michele Chong
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