TONY AYALA JR.: THE GLORY OF WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN, THE HORROR OF WHAT WAS

Tony-Ayala-Jr

The news that former junior middleweight contender Tony Ayala Jr., 52, was found dead early Tuesday morning in San Antonio, Texas, shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the turbulent and troubled life of the onetime boy wonder who was known as “El Torito,” the Little Bull, when he was blasting his way to a 22-0 record with 19 knockouts and a No. 1 ranking from the WBA before his 19th birthday.

Perhaps the only stunner is that Ayala passed away so apparently peacefully, slumped over in the otherwise empty Zarzamora Street Gym where he had again been trying to dig out from the wreckage of a lifetime of abhorrent behavior and disastrous decisions, this time as a boxing trainer.

There are those who would have wagered heavily that Ayala’s end would have come violently or under suspicious circumstances, befitting someone who squandered his once-prodigious talent, and huge chunks of his time on earth, behind prison walls for crimes that even now that are chilling to polite society.

Thus are there two schools of thought that are invariably intertwined when recalling Ayala: one is the potential all-time great who might have been held in the same lofty esteem as contemporaries Marvin Hagler, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns; the other is an emotionally disturbed, heroin-addicted volcano always threatening to erupt. That Ayala went on drug binges and brutalized women whenever his inner demons could no longer be suppressed.

Of Ayala the fighter, his former manager, Lou Duva, once observed: “Forget Leonard, forget Hagler and, yeah, forget Mike Tyson. Rocky Marciano and Tony Ayala were the guys. Not even Muhammad Ali, great as he was, had it quite like those two.”

Dispute Duva’s take on Ayala the fighter if you must, but the prevailing viewpoint of the man outside of the ring is not in such glowing terms.

“I hope they prosecute him to the max in San Antonio,” Passaic County (N.J.) assistant district attorney Marilyn Zbodinski, who prosecuted Ayala for the 1983 rape convicted that landed him in prison for 16 years, said upon learning he had been arrested for a strikingly similar transgression in 2000. “He is a habitual, vicious criminal, and he’s not going to change.”

In many ways, the Tony Ayala Jr. story is reminiscent of another extremely gifted but tortured fighter, Johnny “Mi Vida Loca” Tapia, who was just 45 when his finally heart gave out on May 27, 2012. If there is a difference between them, it is that Tapia stayed out of trouble long enough to capture world championships at super flyweight, bantamweight and featherweight, and whose lengthiest period of inactivity was 3½ years. Ayala on the other hand, did not box for nearly 17 years, his first conviction forever erasing his already-agreed-upon title challenge of WBA 154-pound champ Davey Moore.

Were Ayala and Tapia victims of unfortunate circumstances that predisposed them to tragedy and heartbreak, directed at themselves as well as others? Were they deficient in some way that prevented them from rising above those circumstances? Or, especially in the case of Ayala, was he simply an inherently bad seed who pondered at length the forces that shaped his destiny?

For Tapia, the compelling reality of his life was the rape and murder of his mother, Virginia Tapia Gallegos, when Johnny was eight years old. The pain of her absence in his life drove him to dull the most jagged edges of his psyche with narcotics, and to take his anger out on opponents inside the ropes.

During his first incarceration, Ayala admitted to having been sexually abused as a boy by a male acquaintance of his family, something he was unable to speak about to his parents, Tony Sr. and Pauline, and then-wife Lisa for many years.

B. “I kept this from everybody, especially the people I care about,” Ayala told me during a two-hour interview session at Bayside State Prison in Cumberland County, N.J., in January 1998. “I kept it from my mother, my father, my wife. The first person who ever heard about it was my prison psychologist (Brian Raditz, who became Ayala’s manager upon his release).

“My drug use was more of an open secret. Other people knew about it. My dad didn’t. My dad is very ignorant about things like drugs and drug use. My dad never did anything like that in his life and he couldn’t imagine anyone he loved doing that either. He couldn’t detect the signs and the behavior that are associated with drugs.”

Not that Ayala’s personal failings or his heroin habit prevented him from battering his way toward the top of his profession.

“It became a situation where I had to prove myself constantly,” he said during the same interview. “Everything I did, including boxing, became about my machismo, my manhood, my ability to dominate and control my world and the people in it. It was about imposing my will on another person.

“It affected my sexuality as well. I felt a constant need to prove myself to be straight and strong and virile. There was this cycle that kept repeating itself. I’d fight and receive a great deal of praise. I was everybody’s favorite child. Then, within a short period of time, I would get arrested for being drunk, getting into a brawl, breaking into somebody’s house or whatever. Then I would fight again and the bad things would be more or less forgotten. Until I did them again, and I always did.”

The insanity came to a boil in the early-morning hours of Jan. 1, 1983, when a booze-fueled Ayala committed an act so heinous it could no longer be swept aside with by his boxing fame. No longer would he be everybody’s favorite child.

According to testimony presented at Ayala’s trial, a 30-year-old woman living in his apartment complex in West Paterson, N.J., was awakened by the sound of her bedroom doorknob turning. The door opened to reveal a man, a man she saw only by the light of a clock radio. The intruder produced a knife, tied her to the bed with her socks, blindfolded her, then had his way with her. In the next room, the woman’s 29-year-old roommate was awakened when a man entered her bedroom. He warned her that her roommate was tied up, and would be killed if she attempted to call the police. Minutes later, the roommate jumped out of her first-floor window and ran to a neighbor’s house, where she called the police. When the cops arrived at the apartment complex at 5:30 a.m., they found Ayala, clad only in blue jeans, wandering the grounds and smelling of alcohol. He claimed he was going to his car for cigarettes, but he fit the description of the assailant and was arrested.

At his trial, Ayala contended that the victim had invited him into her apartment and that they had engaged in consensual sex. The jury wasn’t buying it, and after deliberating for only 3½ hours, Ayala was found guilty on six charges: burglary, aggravated sexual assault, two counts of possession of a knife for an unlawful purpose, threatening to kill, and terroristic threats.

In noting Ayala’s history of violent behavior – at 15 he was placed on 10 years probation after pleading guilty to aggravated assault in the beating of an 18-year-old woman in the restroom of a San Antonio drive-in theater – the presiding judge sentenced him to a 15- to 35-year prison term, ordering that he serve at least 15 years without the possibility of parole. An appellate court later adjusted the sentence to 15 to 30 years.

B b“I can’t express how much regret that I allowed myself to get to a point where I had to commit this terrible crime to recognize what I was doing to myself,” said Ayala in admitting that his claim of consensual sex was a blatant falsehood. “I deserved to be punished for what I did. I am remorseful beyond words that I caused pain that person will have to carry for the rest of her life.

“But you know what? I don’t blame anyone or anything else for my circumstances. It was me. It’s not society’s fault. It isn’t mommy and daddy’s fault. It’s not because I’m Hispanic (of Mexican descent) and not white. It’s not because I’m misunderstood. That’s a crock of crap.”

Well-spoken and seemingly sincere, Ayala talked a good game, but he was denied early release on several occasions despite being what he termed a “model prisoner,” and one who even served as a counselor to fellow inmates. He served the full 15 years mandated by the presiding judge because, according to Andy Consovoy, then a member of the New Jersey Parole Board, the nature of his crimes indicated an especially high recidivism rate.

“John Douglas (an FBI profiler who was a consultant in the making of the Academy Award-winning “The Silence of the Lambs”) talks about something called `precipitating stress,’ Consovoy said. “Once Ayala (lost a fight), he was going to go off. There was no doubt.”

Having regained his freedom, Ayala vowed he would never again put himself in a situation that might again entrap him in a cage with iron bars.

V “I want to live a good, positive life, not just in boxing,” he said. “My life isn’t boxing. Boxing is only a small part of my life. After I fight two, three, four years, I fold that tent and go on with the rest of my life. I won’t lay down and die. I didn’t spend all those years in prison to get out and make a comeback. I prepared myself for life in its entirety, with all its problems and its choices. I want to make good choices from now on.”

For a time, Ayala’s impossible dream of rediscovered contention seemed, well, maybe not quite so impossible. He won five fights as a super middleweight, lost to Yori Boy Campas, then won four times more before Consovoy’s dire prediction came true, not long after the erstwhile “El Torito” was stopped in 11 rounds by Anthony Bosante on April 25, 2003. In 2014 he completed a 10-year prison sentence in Texas for burglary of a habitation.

But there was still a bit deeper toward rock-bottom that Ayala had to sink. His father, a trainer to world champions John Michael Johnson, Jesse Benavides, Gabby Canizales and Maribel Zurita and who pulled all four of his sons out of high school to concentrate on boxing, was 78 when he died of complications of diabetes on April 10, 2014. Even in Tony Jr.’s darkest hours, his dad had been the closest thing he had to an emotional anchor, and now that anchor line had been cut, leaving the son to drift away.

One wonders what might have happened had Ayala, during his first incarceration, cooperated with Sylvester Stallone on a movie project that would have taken an unstinting look at Ayala’s ruined life and career.

“He offered good money to do my story,” Ayala said in 1998. “But I didn’t want my story being told then because the movie would have had to end one way and one way only, with me in prison. It would have been a sad ending. I’d rather be forgotten than to have my story end that way.”

Now the story has its ending, and it’s still sad. All that remains is the speculation and conjecture as to what a focused and trouble-free Ayala might have accomplished in the ring. Ayala thought about that, and often, given all the years he had to contemplate the might-have-beens.

“Hagler, to me, was a great fighter, a great warrior,” he said of one of the dream matchups that never became reality. “I think me and him would have been one of the greatest fights in history. One of us would have gone down.

“Duran, I would have blown out. At any time in my career I would have knocked him out. Duran punked out and I still hold it against him. He punked out before `No Mas’ (his surrender in his second fight with Leonard), as far as I’m concerned. Duran’s place in history is undisputed, but if he had come into my territory, he would have been mine. I owned the junior middleweight division.

“To beat Leonard, I would have had to knock him out. I wouldn’t have won a decision because he was America’s poster boy. He was everything America tells blacks they can be. And he played the role good. He was a great fighter. Bu he was so popular, he won some fights he shouldn’t have won, against Hagler and the second one against Hearns.

“Tommy Hearns and I would never have fought. That was an agreement made between Emanuel Steward (Hearns’ manager-trainer) and my dad. Emanuel and my dad were real good friends from the amateur days. Anyway, Emanuel knows I would have taken Tommy apart.”

This is where any story about the death of a notable boxing figure is supposed to end with the expressed wish that he rests in peace. Here’s hoping that peace also extends to the victims of the uncontrollable rages that took Ayala down a road no one should ever have to travel.

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COMMENTS

-Radam G :

Terrible, terrible news to hear. My greatest condolence. Holla!


-Radam G :

Great copy that could be El Torito's eulogy. Holla!


-Kid Blast :

He did his time. It's easy to beat a guy when he is no longer around.


-Buzz Murdock :

nice piece....


-brownsugar :

RIP Ayala. One of my favorite boxers. I latched onto Ayala the way I latched onto GGG the first time I saw him. I regret that he wasn't able prove himself at the highest level. I can only fantasize about the epic challenges that awaited him in the era that produced knockouts on a routine basis.


-stormcentre :

Firstly; great photo. Secondly; Stallone didn't really offer enough money, but it was enough to lure most in jail to take the offer. Thirdly; Ayala could have been a truly great boxer. Fourthly; sad to hear of his fate. Fifthly; great write up.


-The Commish :

Some news surprises us. Other news shocks us. When I heard the news on Tuesday that Tony Ayala Jr. was found dead, I was not shocked. If anything, I was surprised his end came rather peacefully, with him slumped over at a table in his gym in Zacatocas, Texas, a short drive from his hometown of San Antonio. I knew Tony. I knew him well. I knew his father, Tony Sr., and I knew two of his brothers, Sammy and Paulie. Tony Sr. had groomed all three of them to be fighters, lacing gloves on them almost as soon as they could walk. There is even a picture zooming around the internet of a young Tony Jr., perhaps no older than four, wearing gloves and posing, looking more like a pro than any four-year-old you've ever seen. I met him in the Summer of 1980, at a press nce in Midtown Manhattan. Tony Sr. was on hand, with his three fighting sons in tow. Mike, a featherweight, was the oldest. He was 22. Sammy, a jr. welterweight, was 21. Tony, a jr. middleweight, was 17. The three of them were pros. Mike was 24-2. Sammy was 13-1. Tony was 3-0 with three first-round knockouts. His fourth-straight first-round kayo would come in a few weeks, in an appearance on the fledgling cable network which went by the name of the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, which was later shortened to ESPN. At this press conference, the Ayalas sat at a table with me--then the Editor-in-Chief of The Ring--Ring's Publisher, Bert Sugar, and a few other writers. At the end of the press conference, with many of the writers already out the door, Sammy, who was sitting across the table from me, asked, "Randy, do you know a fighter by the name of Mark Ibanez?" I told him I did indeed know of him." "Why?" I asked. "Because I am fighting him in a few weeks," answered Sammy. "Is he a puncher or a boxer," Sammy questioned. As he asked the questions, Tony, who was next to me, looked at his brother through squinting eyes. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "I believe he is a pressure-type fighter with two solid hands," I told Sammy. "Does he take a good punch?" Sammy asked. "I think his only loss was on a decision," I told him. "How's his defense?" Sammy asked. I never got my answer out. Tony jumped up and reached across the table. With his left hand, he grabbed Sammy by the shirt and pulled him halfway across the table. Then he slapped him--brutally hard--across the left cheek with his right hand. Sammy reeled from the blow. Then Tony backhanded him with another shot. Then he shoved his brother backwards, where he slumped into his seat. "WHAT THE HELL'S WRONG WITH YOU!" snapped Tony. "LISTEN TO YOURSELF. 'IS HE A BOXER OR A PUNCHER? DOES HE TAKE A GOOD PUNCH? HOW'S HIS DEFENSE?' YOU'RE A FIGHTER! ACT LIKE ONE! YOU'RE AN AYALA! ACT LIKE ONE!" Then, Tony turned to me and Bert and said, "I'm sorry, guys, but he does this all the time, and he shouldn't. We're fighters. Just tell me when to show up and where. That's all I care about. That's all he should care about." Over the next few years, I was at almost all of Ayala's fights. I was there at his fights in the Ice World, in Totowa, New Jersey, I was there for his two fights in New York and I was at ringside as a consultant to NBC when Ayala fought on that network. I was there the night he stopped veteran Robbie Epps in the first round, then spat upon Epps after knocking him out. In June 1983, Davey Moore lost his WBA Jr. Middleweight Title to Roberto Duran. Had he beaten Duran, his next fight would have been against Ayala. In Gleason's Gym, Moore and Ayala had many sparring sessions. Moore seemingly got the better of Ayala in most of them, One day, in late 1982, Ayala, who was in town for a photo shoot with me, laughed, after I asked when I told him I heard he has trouble with Moore in the gym. "I do that so he thinks he can handle me," said Ayala. "If I beat him up each time we sparred, he'd never fight me. Never!" He told me they'd be working together the following week. They'd beat doing at least three rounds. "In the last round, I will open up on him," said Ayala. "Just watch." That day, they sparred five rounds. For the first four, Moore was having his way, moving on Ayala and pecking him with jabs and blocking many of his shots. As the fourth round ended, Ayala looked up at me in the balcony which overlooked the floor at Gleason's, which was then on 30th Street off 8th Avenue in Midtown. Our eyes caught each other. He nodded. This was the round Ayala said he would open up on Ayala. Tony pressed forward from the opening bell. m He tore into Moore. Then Tony dropped his hands. He invited Moore to take a shot. He took the invitation. He fired a hard right to the chin. Tony didn't attempt to move out of its way. It crashed against his chin. He didn't move. He barely blinked. He invited Moore to throw another. Moore did. This time, Ayala caught the punch on his right glove. Then he shot a left hook over the top of Moore's right. It connected with his temple. He dropped right there. When he arose, he stumbled back to the ropes. Ayala followed him there. A well-placed hook to the side dropped Moore to one knee. Two punches. Two knockdowns. Moore's corner quickly jumped in and ended the workout. On June 16, 1983, Moore was treated just as badly by Roberto Duran, but not in a sparring session. It was in defense of his WBA Jr. Middleweight Title. Ayala was 22-0 with 19 knockouts. A Duran-Ayala title fight would have joined Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns I, Leonard-Roberto Duran I & II, Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney and Aaron-Pryor I as the biggest bouts of the first three years of the interesting 1980's. Unfortunately, Duran-Moore would never happen. On that day that Ayala had sparred with Moore, I also had Ayala do a cover photo shoot a few hours earlier. We took hundreds of shots of Ayala, and chose one with him holding his robe, emblazoned with "El Torito" and a charging, snorting bull. The magazine went on sale in mid-December. On New Years Day, 1983, in the hours after midnight, my phone rang. I was in Atlantic City for the New Year, asleep with my wife. When the phone rang, I figured it was a friend, in the midst of a party, who was going to yell, "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" It was indeed a friend. It was Ayala's manager Shelly Finkel. He was not in a joyous mood. This was not going to be a "HAPPY NEW YEAR" call. "Randy, Tony has messed up. He's been arrested!" said Finkel. "WHAT!" I exclaimed. Finkel proceeded to explain. Ayala had broken into an apartment in West Paterson, N.J. He had tied up and sexually molested a woman and threatened her roommate, but the roommate escaped by jumping out a window and calling the police. He had done it before, when he was 15, but his victim was apparently bought off to drop the charges. Ayala was a time bomb. A ticking time bomb of a sexual predator. He got out of jail, but soon went back into for parole violation. The first stretch kept him out of the ring for nearly 17 years. The second stretch saw him released in April 2014, only a few weeks after the death of his father. As of this writing, the death of "El Torito" is still being investigated. Was it drugs? Was it his weight, which far exceeded his fighting weight of 154 pounds? Was it foul play? Was it natural causes? All I know, is that because of the demons in his head, Tony Ayala Jr. never got to show the world what a great fighter he really was. Of all the wasted talent ever to step into a ring, he may have been the most wasted talent of all. Although he claims to have repented and says he is deeply sorry for those he hurt, you wonder if he really was sorry for all of his misdeeds. When he met his Holy Father, you wonder if he was forgiven, or sent to burn in the fires of hell for eternity. -Randy G.


-Radam G :

I've been reading your copy since I first learnt how to read English at 5-years old. You are the best. "El Torito" -- "The Baby Bull" -- is gone to eternal paradise. One of these days, we will see him at the crossroad. And know for sure. Holla!


-brownsugar :

Some news surprises us. Other news shocks us. When I heard the news on Tuesday that Tony Ayala Jr. was found dead, I was not shocked. If anything, I was surprised his end came rather peacefully, with him slumped over at a table in his gym in Zacatocas, Texas, a short drive from his hometown of San Antonio. I knew Tony. I knew him well. I knew his father, Tony Sr., and I knew two of his brothers, Sammy and Paulie. Tony Sr. had groomed all three of them to be fighters, lacing gloves on them almost as soon as they could walk. There is even a picture zooming around the internet of a young Tony Jr., perhaps no older than four, wearing gloves and posing, looking more like a pro than any four-year-old you've ever seen. I met him in the Summer of 1980, at a press nce in Midtown Manhattan. Tony Sr. was on hand, with his three fighting sons in tow. Mike, a featherweight, was the oldest. He was 22. Sammy, a jr. welterweight, was 21. Tony, a jr. middleweight, was 17. The three of them were pros. Mike was 24-2. Sammy was 13-1. Tony was 3-0 with three first-round knockouts. His fourth-straight first-round kayo would come in a few weeks, in an appearance on the fledgling cable network which went by the name of the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, which was later shortened to ESPN. At this press conference, the Ayalas sat at a table with me--then the Editor-in-Chief of The Ring--Ring's Publisher, Bert Sugar, and a few other writers. At the end of the press conference, with many of the writers already out the door, Sammy, who was sitting across the table from me, asked, "Randy, do you know a fighter by the name of Mark Ibanez?" I told him I did indeed know of him." "Why?" I asked. "Because I am fighting him in a few weeks," answered Sammy. "Is he a puncher or a boxer," Sammy questioned. As he asked the questions, Tony, who was next to me, looked at his brother through squinting eyes. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "I believe he is a pressure-type fighter with two solid hands," I told Sammy. "Does he take a good punch?" Sammy asked. "I think his only loss was on a decision," I told him. "How's his defense?" Sammy asked. I never got my answer out. Tony jumped up and reached across the table. With his left hand, he grabbed Sammy by the shirt and pulled him halfway across the table. Then he slapped him--brutally hard--across the left cheek with his right hand. Sammy reeled from the blow. Then Tony backhanded him with another shot. Then he shoved his brother backwards, where he slumped into his seat. "WHAT THE HELL'S WRONG WITH YOU!" snapped Tony. "LISTEN TO YOURSELF. 'IS HE A BOXER OR A PUNCHER? DOES HE TAKE A GOOD PUNCH? HOW'S HIS DEFENSE?' YOU'RE A FIGHTER! ACT LIKE ONE! YOU'RE AN AYALA! ACT LIKE ONE!" Then, Tony turned to me and Bert and said, "I'm sorry, guys, but he does this all the time, and he shouldn't. We're fighters. Just tell me when to show up and where. That's all I care about. That's all he should care about." Over the next few years, I was at almost all of Ayala's fights. I was there at his fights in the Ice World, in Totowa, New Jersey, I was there for his two fights in New York and I was at ringside as a consultant to NBC when Ayala fought on that network. I was there the night he stopped veteran Robbie Epps in the first round, then spat upon Epps after knocking him out. In June 1983, Davey Moore lost his WBA Jr. Middleweight Title to Roberto Duran. Had he beaten Duran, his next fight would have been against Ayala. In Gleason's Gym, Moore and Ayala had many sparring sessions. Moore seemingly got the better of Ayala in most of them, One day, in late 1982, Ayala, who was in town for a photo shoot with me, laughed, after I asked when I told him I heard he has trouble with Moore in the gym. "I do that so he thinks he can handle me," said Ayala. "If I beat him up each time we sparred, he'd never fight me. Never!" He told me they'd be working together the following week. They'd beat doing at least three rounds. "In the last round, I will open up on him," said Ayala. "Just watch." That day, they sparred five rounds. For the first four, Moore was having his way, moving on Ayala and pecking him with jabs and blocking many of his shots. As the fourth round ended, Ayala looked up at me in the balcony which overlooked the floor at Gleason's, which was then on 30th Street off 8th Avenue in Midtown. Our eyes caught each other. He nodded. This was the round Ayala said he would open up on Ayala. Tony pressed forward from the opening bell. m He tore into Moore. Then Tony dropped his hands. He invited Moore to take a shot. He took the invitation. He fired a hard right to the chin. Tony didn't attempt to move out of its way. It crashed against his chin. He didn't move. He barely blinked. He invited Moore to throw another. Moore did. This time, Ayala caught the punch on his right glove. Then he shot a left hook over the top of Moore's right. It connected with his temple. He dropped right there. When he arose, he stumbled back to the ropes. Ayala followed him there. A well-placed hook to the side dropped Moore to one knee. Two punches. Two knockdowns. Moore's corner quickly jumped in and ended the workout. On June 16, 1983, Moore was treated just as badly by Roberto Duran, but not in a sparring session. It was in defense of his WBA Jr. Middleweight Title. Ayala was 22-0 with 19 knockouts. A Duran-Ayala title fight would have joined Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns I, Leonard-Roberto Duran I & II, Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney and Aaron-Pryor I as the biggest bouts of the first three years of the interesting 1980's. Unfortunately, Duran-Moore would never happen. On that day that Ayala had sparred with Moore, I also had Ayala do a cover photo shoot a few hours earlier. We took hundreds of shots of Ayala, and chose one with him holding his robe, emblazoned with "El Torito" and a charging, snorting bull. The magazine went on sale in mid-December. On New Years Day, 1983, in the hours after midnight, my phone rang. I was in Atlantic City for the New Year, asleep with my wife. When the phone rang, I figured it was a friend, in the midst of a party, who was going to yell, "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" It was indeed a friend. It was Ayala's manager Shelly Finkel. He was not in a joyous mood. This was not going to be a "HAPPY NEW YEAR" call. "Randy, Tony has messed up. He's been arrested!" said Finkel. "WHAT!" I exclaimed. Finkel proceeded to explain. Ayala had broken into an apartment in West Paterson, N.J. He had tied up and sexually molested a woman and threatened her roommate, but the roommate escaped by jumping out a window and calling the police. He had done it before, when he was 15, but his victim was apparently bought off to drop the charges. Ayala was a time bomb. A ticking time bomb of a sexual predator. He got out of jail, but soon went back into for parole violation. The first stretch kept him out of the ring for nearly 17 years. The second stretch saw him released in April 2014, only a few weeks after the death of his father. As of this writing, the death of "El Torito" is still being investigated. Was it drugs? Was it his weight, which far exceeded his fighting weight of 154 pounds? Was it foul play? Was it natural causes? All I know, is that because of the demons in his head, Tony Ayala Jr. never got to show the world what a great fighter he really was. Of all the wasted talent ever to step into a ring, he may have been the most wasted talent of all. Although he claims to have repented and says he is deeply sorry for those he hurt, you wonder if he really was sorry for all of his misdeeds. When he met his Holy Father, you wonder if he was forgiven, or sent to burn in the fires of hell for eternity. -Randy G.
Been missing your posts Commish. So true about Ayala, ....he was into some savage stuff, incorrigible, I used to dream of him one day fighting the Haglers and Durans of the world. Then we learned about the hidden side of his nature.....His loss to the sport was a heartbreaking disappointment.


-the Roast :

You have told quite a few stories from your one of a kind career in boxing the Commish, but this one might be the most insightful and most interesting of all. I thank you. I didn't know Tony Ayala Jr. but from what I read over the years he was a scumbag. Waste of talent. We can never know for sure but I speculate Hagler, Duran, Hearns, Leonard and Benitez give him a beating and/or a boxing lesson.


-Radam G :

You have told quite a few stories from your one of a kind career in boxing the Commish, but this one might be the most insightful and most interesting of all. I thank you. I didn't know Tony Ayala Jr. but from what I read over the years he was a scumbag. Waste of talent. We can never know for sure but I speculate Hagler, Duran, Hearns, Leonard and Benitez give him a beating and/or a boxing lesson.
He was a tortured soul that was raped as a child by a family friend. And he would have held his own against the five that you named. I was a toddler, but I have a very clear memory and films of his bad in boxing. He was a scumbag when he was drunk or high. But not in his state of mind. The man had chemical problems that caused those moral problems. God and Humans forgive when you are not in the right state of mind. And he did the crime. And did the time. Of his 52 year of life, he spent 24 in jail and treatment. Holla!


-SuperLight :

Thanks to the Commish for sharing a personal, moving and very honest account. I must admit I'd heard of Ayala but never watched him fight. Will now be looking him up.


-Matthew :

A sad story of wasted talent. I've watched a number of Ayala's early fights, and he was a real fighter. He had all the tools. I think he could have competed against all of the Four Kings. It's a shame that we never got to see him reach his potential, but he had nobody to blame except himself.


-Domenic :

Great comments all around. I remember following Ayala's comeback after his release from prison. I never knew much about him prior to that, other than the standard fare in the press. I don't even recall seeing footage of him in the ring in the pre-You Tube era, just hearing/reading about this guy who was an unbeaten beast that went away for a vicious rape. He seems like the prototypical Jekyll and Hyde guy that as soon as he had some booze and drugs, the switch flipped and he became a full blown psychopath. Certainly a tragic figure.


-Radam G :

Hate on his him, or criticize him. We are all dying too.
->https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KsdRn48s7bE. Holla!