TRAGEDY: Puerto Rican boxing champ Hector Camacho died on Saturday, four days after being shot in the face and neck in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Picture: REUTERS
TRAGEDY: Puerto Rican boxing champ Hector Camacho died on Saturday, four days after being shot in the face and neck in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Picture: REUTERS

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rican boxing great Hector "Macho" Camacho, shot in the head last week, was declared dead on Saturday after being removed from a respirator, a doctor said.

His death brings a tragic end to a career that saw Camacho triumph in three weight classes, but struggle with drugs and alcohol. Highlights of his career included wins over legends such as Roberto Duran of Panama and American fighter Sugar Ray Leonard, whom Camacho knocked out in five rounds.

Camacho, who was 50, suffered a heart attack overnight on Friday and doctors later disconnected him from life support equipment, said Dr Ernesto Torres, director of Centro Medico de Rio Piedras, where the boxer was admitted after being shot on Tuesday. "There was nothing else we could do for him."

Camacho had been declared brain dead on Thursday. His relatives were informed as soon as he was taken off life support.

Camacho’s mother, Maria Matias, said on Friday she accepted the doctors’ opinion that the three-time world champion could not recover. Camacho was shot while in a car in San Juan outside a liquor store.

The boxer’s driver, Alberto Mojica Moreno, 49, was killed in the shooting. It is not known whether they were targeted or caught up in a random act of violence.

The bullet damaged three arteries in Camacho’s neck, crippling the flow of blood to his brain.

Camacho was one of the most colourful boxers of the 1980s, winning world titles at super-lightweight, lightweight and light-welterweight.

Camacho moved with his family as a child to Spanish Harlem in New York. He repeatedly got into trouble and ended up in detention at the age of 15.

He discovered boxing, did well at the amateur level and eventually went pro. With a career record of 79-6-3 with 38 knockouts, he took on all comers, including such big names as Oscar de la Hoya, Julio Cesar Chavez, Felix Trinidad, Ray Mancini and Greg Haugen.

But battles with drugs and alcohol led to numerous brushes with the law outside the ring. In 2005, he was arrested in Mississippi for allegedly trying to rob an appliance store and for carrying the drug ecstasy.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison and served some time, but eventually got out on probation. This year, US police charged him with child abuse for allegedly slamming his son into the floor at his former wife’s home in Florida.

Sapa-AFP