Mando Ramos, who in 1969 at the age of 20 became the youngest fighter to ever win the lightweight championship, passed away at his home in San Pedro, California. He was 59.
Ramos turned pro at age 17, having started fighting at the age of eight. It took him almost no time at all to become one of the most popular fighters in the region, main eventing quickly at the historic Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. By the time he was 19, he was a star.
Mando battled Frankie Crawford in two bouts in 1967 and 1968, losing the first via majority decision and winning the second in a landslide. He beat super featherweight champion Hiroshi Kobayashi in a non-title fight upset in June 1968, but decided to pass when offered a rematch. He wanted to fight lightweight champion Carlos Ortiz.
Unfortunately for Ramos, Ortiz was upset by Teo Cruz, who signed to fight Ramos three months after his defeat of Ortiz. Cruz won a 15-round unanimous decision to retain that September night, but Ramos fought him again in February 1969, and won the bout when it was stopped in the 11th round due to cuts.
Ramos made one defense, against Yoshiaki Numata, and won on sixth round technical knockout. He lost his title on March 3, 1970, when Ismael Laguna pounded out cuts over both of Ramos' eyes, and the champion's manager, Jackie McCoy, demanded the fight be stopped.
A three-fight series with Spanish star Pedro Carrasco in 1971-72 would be the last notable high point of Ramos' career. He won two of the three fights, gaining the WBC's lightweight title in the process. He lost that belt to Chango Carmona in 1972, and then was knocked out by Arturo Pineda the next year. He was never the same. In 1975, a young fighter named Wayne Beale knocked Ramos out in the second round, and Mando never returned to the ring. That fight came a couple weeks shy of his 27th birthday.
The 1970s also saw Mando fall into severe drug and alcohol addiction, though he thankfully managed to get clean the next decade. He founded the Boxing Against Alcohol and Drugs (B.A.A.D.) organization, and was active with young fighters for the remainder of his days. He was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1988.
Bad Left Hook joins the rest of the boxing community in extending our deepest sympathies and best wishes to the family and loved ones of Mr. Ramos, may he rest in peace.