By David Martinez / Boxing Historian
I first met Armando (Mando) Ramos in the fall of 1969, when I drove
to Santa Monica to watch him train at the Surf Rider Hotel in his
preparation to defend his Lightweight title against Yoshiaki Numata.
What I saw was, not a fighter in serious training. Earlier that year
Ramos won the Lightweight Championship via knockout over Teo Cruz, to
become the youngest to win the Lightweight title at the age of 20 years
But, to my surprise, I found trainer Jackie McCoy completely
frustrated with Mando and his lack of concentration in the gym. He
verbally chastised Mando and scowled at him for his poor training
practices. That was my initial contact with Mando Ramos, which was like
a teacher bawling out a student.
Mando Ramos, a personal friend of mine, was an alcoholic at the age
of 13, made the drug scene at the age of 15, and was a boxing idol by
the age of 18 years old. His father, Ray, a former fighter,
was instrumental in starting Mando’s boxing career, working with older
son Manuel and also with Mando at an early age. Mando was 5 years
old fighting in the junior Golden Gloves.
In November, 1965, when Mando was only 17 years old, he had his
first professional fight. He was a kid with so much natural ability that
he became an instant success, winning his first 17 fights, 11 by
knockout, and was packing large SRO capacity crowds into the Los Angeles,
California, Olympic Auditorium.
He would become LA’s darling, and literally take boxing in L.A. to
newer heights, not seen since the Golden Days of Art Aragon and Enrique
Balonos. Danny Lopez and Bobby Chacon would come later.
In 1968, Mando would lose to Teo Cruz in his first bid for the
championship. But the following year in a rematch, he would win the
title from Cruz and go on to defend it once, in a spectacular knockout
over Numata, before losing to Ismael Laguna in 1970.
Mando Ramos: 1968 Photo
After huge wins over Sugar Ramos, Raul Rojas, and Ruben Navarro, on
November 5, 1971, Mando would travel to Madrid, Spain only to lose
another championship bid by disqualification to Pedro Carrasco – a
fighter who had a most impressive ring record of only one loss in 106
bouts prior to that fight. In the rematch in L.A. just three months
later in February 1972, Mando would win back the Lightweight title over
Carrasco. He would successfully defend it back in Spain in June 1972
with Carrasco, in their final fight of the trilogy. Mando then lost in
September of that same year, 1972, in the most dismal performance of his
career, by a knockout in eight rounds, to Chango Carmona.
I personally attended the fight against Carmona and it was a
complete turn-a-bout in what I witnessed when I attended the Numata
fight just three years earlier – one would not believe that you were
watching the same fighter.
Fight Program (vs Carmona) Sept. 15, 1972
On a personal note … the night of the Numata fight, probably one of
the most exciting boxing cards that I had seen in my younger days … I
attended with my late father, and my closest friends. In those days the
under card was always loaded with a bouts of main event quality. That
night was the highly anticipated “rubber match” between Ernie “Indian
Red” Lopez and Hedgemon Lewis, plus the American debut of the knockout
sensation from Mexico, Rodolfo Martinez, who came into his fight
unbeaten with a 21-0-1 ring record with 21 KO’s!
But it was Mando Ramos who was the attraction that night with a
spectacular performance of savage body punches to knockout Numata in
How great Mando could have been had not drugs and alcohol played a
huge part in his life. This writer believes he would have been one of
the elite Lightweights of our generation.
Mando officially retired from the ring in 1975.
At a recent boxing event, The Gathering of Angels / Golden State
Boxers Association on August 12, 2007, Mando was honored along with
family and friends, as he received the Nat Fleischer Ring Magazine 1969
Here is a picture of Mando with his family on that night.
The picture was taken by my friend Ray Luna: