Who is Mando Ramos?

July 7, 2008
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Meet Mando Ramos, former lightweight boxing champion who died on Sunday at 59 years old. Read his biography and see photos and a video of him below.

Former lightweight boxing champion Armondo Ramos (better known as Mando Ramos), died in his San Pedro, California home on Sunday. He has suffered from chronic back pain and diabetes. His wife, Sylvia, reported that he wouldn’t get up to watch the fights on Saturday night, which was very unusual for him. By Sunday morning he was exhibiting labored breathing. His wife called paramedics but he never regained consciousness.

His son, Mando, Jr., said of his father, ‘He was a great champion in the ring, but he was an even greater champion in life.’ What a great legacy to leave.

Armando Ramos was born on November 15 1948 in Long Beach, California. He died on Sunday, July 6, 2008. He was 59-years-old. Growing up in Long Beach, he and his older brother, Manuel, learned how to box from their father, Ray who was a former professional boxer. Ramos has said that his father started teaching him to box as soon as he could walk. The brothers spent all their spare time in the gym. They went to school, worked in their grandmother’s grocery store and worked on boxing.

Ramos turned pro in 1965 when he was just 17-years-old and immediately started winning one match after the next. He won his first 17 matches straight. He was enormously popular as a boxer. He was handsome, friendly and charming. He rose to fame quickly. His fans loved him and were practically fanatical about him. He was the youngest man in history to win the lightweight championship of the world. He was at the top of his game in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Unfortunately, boxing wasn’t the only thing he learned from his father. His father was an alcoholic and Mando started drinking when he was just 11-years-old. His addiction to alcohol and drugs ended his boxing career prematurely. As his fame and fortune rose, so did his addiction. At first it was alcohol, then marijuana and ultimately heroine. His partying and drug abuse escalated and eventually became more important to him than his career, his marriage and even his son, Mando, Jr. His lifestyle caught up to him and he started losing matches that he otherwise would not have lost. The money started drying up and he finally quit boxing in 1975.

Two of his older brothers died of heroine overdoses. That was when Mando quit using drugs. He has been clean and sober since 1983. He has spent the rest of his career working with kids to battle drug and alcohol addiction. He set up a foundation, Boxing Against Alcohol and Drugs (B.A.A.D).

Ramos was inducted into the World Boxing Boxing Hall of Fame in 1988. He was inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame just a couple of weeks ago.

His wife is Sylvia Van Hecke. Mando died in his home in San Pedro, California.

I was only on top for three years, and I was never really in shape. All the damn drugs. All the cocaine … I did love the cheers of the crowd, though.

I definitely heard lots of them, brother. ~ Mando Ramos

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