Exclusive: Alex Ramos Bounces Back From Brain Surgery

“The Bronx Bomber” Greets Champ Abner Mares

Former prizefighter Alex Ramos (39-10-2, 24 KOs) knows how to get back on his feet after life throws you a couple of curve balls.

The “Bronx Bomber” has had his share of health woes. On June 13 and previously on May 30, he underwent two surgeries to combat Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH), which affects balance, increases dementia and incontinence, among other crippling side effects. He had been falling down and forced to shuffle while walking. During his recent procedures, Ramos, 51, had a shunt put in his brain to allow the excess cerebral spinal fluid to flow out to relieve the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid.

I checked in with the ex-pro boxer at Saturday night’s HBO and Top Rank card held at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. The evening showcased a doubleheader of Nonito Donaire-Jeffrey Mathebula and Kelly Pavlik-Will Rosinsky and Ramos was there to witness all the action.

Alex’s good friend and boxing associate Mike Bradburn first came by to say hi to me, gesturing to where Alex was sitting when I asked about the former amateur champ. “I’ll look for him–he’ll stand out with his hair,” I commented with a smile. Ramos is known for his trademark helmet of thick silver hair. “He’s got a shaved head now!” Bradburn replied. “He had brain surgery recently; I’ll bring him over to talk to you.”

After retiring from the ring in 1994, Ramos, a four-time New York Golden Glove champion, has made no secret of the physical detriments he’s faced that too many boxers deal with after their brutal wars inside the ropes. He’s even formed a nonprofit organization called the Retired Boxers Foundation (RBF) to assist former fighters in need.

With his various illnesses and debilitating neurological condition, you might think Alex would be a “shut in,” preferring to recuperate at home after his two stays in the hospital. He was coping with balance issues and difficulty in walking before the shunt was inserted. But you can never underestimate a champion. With a broad smile, Ramos told me he’s on the mend, always grateful to God and appreciative of everyone’s support.

“It was two VERY serious operations but I’m feeling much better now,” the amiable boxer relayed to me. “It was for brain surgery; everything went well and I’m getting back to normal now.” The Puerto Rican warrior may have had metal staples in his scalp but there he was at the fights taking in the bouts.

Alex has always been a popular fixture in the local fight scene. While most of his peers and boxing associates were not aware of his recent surgeries, a few close friends who knew lent their support. “While I was in the hospital Jack Reiss (boxing official) and Randy Shields (ex-fighter) and their wives came to visit me,” Ramos recalls. “That made me feel great and I really enjoyed their visit.”

On Saturday night, this former New Yorker who now resides in SoCal also got to catch up with current WBC Super Bantamweight Champion and Golden Boy star Abner Mares.

The two gladiators talked boxing for a couple of minutes, paying respect to one another. Alex says Abner is one of his very favorite fighters to watch. Boxing fans would love a Nonito Donaire vs. Abner Mares matchup–and so would Ramos, who agrees that the clash would be a barnburner should it take place in the future.

“I love watching Abner fight!” Alex says, “and that would be a GREAT one if he fought Donaire. I would love it.”

“Who would win?” I ask.

“Oh man, that’s a toss up; that’s a tough one to call,” he answers. “They both have good styles and such determination. It would be a ‘neck and neck’ fight to victory.”

At the Home Depot Center, Mares told me he would like to fight Donaire. Besides Mares, Toshiaki Nishioka (also ringside at Saturday’s fight), Guillermo Rigondeaux and Jorge Arce have been talked about as being future foes for the Filipino belt holder.

Alex said he enjoyed chatting with Mares and being around his fellow fighters at the shows. Now that his health is better, he hopes to continue to visit local gyms and attending live cards in the area.

The Retired Boxers Foundation’s Executive Director Jacquie Richardson also attended the fights with Ramos this past weekend. She notes how much Alex thrives being around boxing and says they plan to go to more shows this month. And it’s somewhat of a miracle that Alex is walking well again and out and about after such crucial surgeries.

“Yesterday was a really good day for him,” Jacquie tells me in our follow-up conversation. “Before his operations, he was having some trouble walking, shuffling on his feet, and before his surgery he fell five times. He was in ICU for a while,” she elaborates. “But he’s so much better now after the lumbar drain. He’s adjusting to the shunt to relieve the water on his brain–and he’s doing good.” She explains that it’s not uncommon for fighters to have this condition but it often goes undiagnosed.

Both Ramos and Richardson donate their time to their RBF group to make a difference in other champs’ lives.

“You’re still very involved with RBF?” I confirm with Alex.

“You better believe it!” the gregarious ex-middleweight states. “That’s my #1 thing, working with the foundation.”

His compadre and “Laced Up Boxing Apparel” entrepreneur Mike Bradburn speaks of Ramos’ dedication and strength. “He just had surgery and he’s already bouncing back,” Mike says. Bradburn, a boxing trainer from Camarillo, spends a lot of time with Team Ramos and has gotten to know Alex well.

And anyone who knows Alex Ramos, knows that the tough boxing vet somehow always manages to get back on his feet–even after undergoing two serious operations. With the shunt in place, his suffering has now been alleviated to some degree.

Ever the survivor, Ramos maintains a smile, remains strong and spiritual, and continuing to battle back after his major surgeries.

Check out these exclusive photos of the “Bronx Bomber” visiting with one of boxing’s rising superstars, Abner Mares.

Photos by Michele Chong

Michele Chong

Michele Chong

Feature Writer at MyBoxingFans
Michele Chong has been involved in the sport of boxing for over a decade. Her “Chatter Box” column covers a variety of subjects in both professional and amateur boxing, and features exclusive one-on-one interviews, recaps of fight events, shows and tournaments, book/film reviews and much more. Inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008, she is also a member of the World Boxing Hall of Fame, Golden State Boxer’s Association and the Burbank Boxing Club. Michele is also involved in many non-profit and charitable organizations.
Michele Chong
Michele Chong

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  1. Bernardo Miguel

    Another great feature by Michele.