Monday, May 19, 2014

Jimmy Garcia: A Fallen Warrior Remembered

By Peter Silkov

Jimmy Garcia was born in Barranquilla Colombia, and like so many thousands of boxers through the years, he dreamed of escaping his modest beginnings by becoming a champion in the boxing ring. Turning professional at the age of 17 years old, Garcia wasn’t the most talented of fighters, but he was tough, with a big heart, and the will power to chase his dream.  After winning the Colombian Super-featherweight title, Garcia battled his way to the edge of realizing his dream, when he was granted a shot at the world championship.  In fact, Garcia was granted two consecutive shots at the World super-featherweight championship, but instead of achieving his dream, Garcia’s life took a fateful and tragic turn.

Garcia’s first world title shot took place on November 12, 1994 when he faced the skilful Genaro Hernandez, in a Mexican bullring, for the WBA world super-featherweight championship.  Despite showing a huge amount of heart, Garcia was widely out-pointed by the fast and clever Hernandez, who out-boxed him with ease, yet, couldn’t stop Garcia from coming forward constantly. After 12 rounds, Garcia was badly cut, battered, and had taken many punches, but he had fought like a warrior and lasted the distance.

It was Garcia’s toughness and bravery that got him his second chance at fulfilling a dream, when 6 months after his loss to Hernandez, he was handed a title shot at the dynamic box-fighter, Gabriel Ruelas, on May 19, 1995, for Ruelas’ WBC world super-featherweight title, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. In the build up to his title fight with Ruelas, Garcia, who had not fought since his loss to Hernandez had to lose 30 pounds, and struggled to make the weight, right up to the day of the fight. The fight was one-sided, with Ruelas, a young and hungry world champion for whom big things were expected, punished Garcia round after round. Garcia was outmatched by Ruelas in every department, except for his heart and his will power.  As the fight progressed, Garcia took what the champion Ruelas dished out, and kept trying to find the one punch that would turn it all around and turn the night into the stuff of dreams for him.

Yet the miracle punch that so many boxers dream of at night never came, instead, Garcia kept taking the punches of Ruelas, and as the rounds went on, under the harsh Vegas lights and the champion grew frustrated at his inability to stop his challenger, so his attacks upon Garcia intensified. 

Garcia’s battered, weight drained body, refused to fall. In the end, Jimmy was still on his feet when the referee belatedly stopped the fight in the 11th round, a testament to how bravely he had held onto his dream. With the fight over, Jimmy Garcia collapsed in his corner, and was taken from the ring on a stretcher. Within forty minutes of collapsing, Garcia was having surgery to remove blood clots from his brain. Thirteen days later Garcia’s life support machine was turned off, his fight was finally over. He was 23 years old. 

Gabriel Ruelas was never the same fighter again after the death of Jimmy Garcia, the talented champion lost his title in his next fight and struggled to regain his previous form for the remainder of his career.  Sometimes dreams come with a high price.

Jimmy Garcia’s final record was 35(25koes)-5.  He may not have achieved his dream of winning a world title, but he should always be remembered as one of boxing’s fallen warriors, who gave his life for the sport he loved. 

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