Long time drug user Hector Camacho may be taken off life support systems

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Jason Smith

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Nov 22, 2012, 12:38:18 AM11/22/12
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Hector 'Macho' Camacho shot

Updated: November 21, 2012, 8:14 PM ET
Associated Press

Hector Camacho's Condition Worsening

After being shot in the face, Hector "Macho" Camacho's family and
doctors are discussing whether to remove the former boxing champion
from life support.Tags: Hector Camacho

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Hector "Macho" Camacho is clinging to life
after being shot in the face while in a car, with doctors and his
family expected to decide whether to remove the former boxing champion
from life support.

Doctors at the Centro Medico trauma center in San Juan found that
Camacho had irregular and intermittent brain activity late Wednesday,
said Dr. Ernesto Torres, the center's director.

"We can't declare him brain dead," he said. "We're going to ask the
people of Puerto Rico to keep praying."

Torres said doctors will conduct additional tests early Thursday but
warned the prognosis remains dire.

"The changes have been more negative than positive," he said, adding
that Camacho does not have enough blood coursing through his brain.

Doctors initially had said Camacho was in critical, but stable
condition and was expected to survive after he was shot Tuesday night
in the city of Bayamon. But his condition worsened overnight and his
heart stopped at one point, Torres said.

The 50-year-old Camacho was shot as he and a friend sat in a Ford
Mustang parked outside a bar. Police spokesman Alex Diaz said officers
found nine small bags of cocaine in the friend's pocket, and a 10th
bag open inside the car.

Camacho's mother, who flew in Wednesday from New York, will lead the
discussion about whether he should be removed from life support, said
Ismael Leandry, a longtime friend and former manager who was also at
the hospital.

"We just have to wait to see if 'Macho' gets better. It's a hard
battle," Leandry told The Associated Press as he joined friends and
family outside the emergency room.

Torres said Camacho's mother, Maria Matias, spent about 20 minutes
with her son, one of the most dynamic boxing personalities of his era,
and was expected to return for a second visit on Wednesday night.

"His mother came and she is devastated," he said. "She knows the
prognosis is not at all favorable."

A godson, Widniel Adorno, said the family has discussed the
possibility of organ donation but no final decision has been made.

Camacho's friend, identified as 49-year-old Adrian Mojica Moreno, was
killed in the attack. Police said two assailants fled in an SUV, but
no arrests have been made and no motive has been disclosed.

Camacho was rushed to Centro Medico, where doctors initially said the
bullet passed through his jaw and lodged in his shoulder. Torres said
the bullet damaged three of the four main arteries in his neck and
fractured two vertebrae, which could leave him paralyzed if he were to
survive.

Steve Tannenbaum, who has also represented Camacho in the past, had
been told earlier by friends at the hospital that the boxer would make
it.

"This guy is a cat with nine lives. He's been through so much," he
said. "If anybody can pull through it will be him."

Friends and family members waited anxiously at the hospital, fondly
recalling Camacho's high-energy personality and his powerful skills in
the ring.

"He was like a little brother who was always getting into trouble,"
said former featherweight champion Juan Laporte, a fellow Puerto Rican
who grew up and trained with Camacho in New York.

Camacho has been considered one of the more controversial figures in
boxing, but also popular among fans and those who worked in the sport.

"The Macho Man was a promoter's dream," renowned promoter Don King
told AP. "He excited boxing fans around the world with his inimitable
style. He was a nice, amiable guy away from the ring."

King had promoted Camacho but was caught off guard by news of the
attack on the former champion.

"What a tragedy this is," he said. "I'm very sorry for Hector and his
family. My prayers go out to him."

The fighter's last title bout came against then-welterweight champion
Oscar De La Hoya in 1997, a loss by unanimous decision. He last fought
in May 2010, losing to Saul Duran. Tannenbaum said they were looking
at a possible bout in 2013.

"We were talking comeback even though he is 50," he said. "I felt he
was capable of it."

Camacho was born in Bayamon, one of the cities that make up the San
Juan metropolitan area

He left Puerto Rico as a child and grew up mostly in New York's Harlem
neighborhood, one of the reasons he later earned the nickname "the
Harlem Heckler."

He went on to win super lightweight, lightweight and junior
welterweight world titles in the 1980s.

Camacho has fought other high-profile bouts in his career against
Felix Trinidad, Julio Cesar Chavez and Sugar Ray Leonard. Camacho
knocked out Leonard in 1997, ending what was that former champ's final
comeback attempt.

Camacho has a career record of 79-6-3.

In recent years, he has divided his time between Puerto Rico and
Florida, appearing regularly on Spanish-language television as well as
on a reality show called "Es Macho Time!" on YouTube. In San Juan, he
had been living in the beach community of Isla Verde, where he would
obligingly pose for photos with tourists who recognized him on the
street, said former pro boxer Victor "Luvi" Callejas, a neighbor and
friend.

"We all know what Macho Camacho has done, but in the last couple of
months he hasn't been in any trouble," Callejas said as he kept vigil
outside the hospital. "He has been taking it easy. He's been upbeat."

Drug, alcohol and other problems have trailed Camacho since the prime
of his boxing career. He was sentenced in 2007 to seven years in
prison for the burglary of a computer store in Mississippi. While
arresting him on the burglary charge in January 2005, police also
found the drug ecstasy.

A judge eventually suspended all but one year of the sentence and gave
Camacho probation. He wound up serving two weeks in jail, though,
after violating that probation.

His wife also filed domestic abuse complaints against him twice before
their divorce several years ago.



Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

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