IBHOF Inductee Lupe Pintor – Legend has it that the coldest, most frightening stare in all of boxing belonged to Roberto Duran, the cold-eyed terror of the Panamanian slums who gave birth to the legend of the man with the hands of stone.
Those who support that theory have certainly not looked into the eyes of Lupe Pintor.
A world champion in two weight divisions, the raven-haired Mexican was something to behold as a physical specimen, with his dark complexion and his angular facial features conjuring to create a scary sight for anyone standing across the ring from him. But his eyes, buried in that already fearsome countenance and glowing a chilling, lifeless dark light, were even more terrifying.
But now, at 61 years of age, and getting ready to be inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame to join 13 of his Mexican compatriots already there, the man born Jose Guadalupe Pintor Guzman and usually referred to as the Indian from Cuajimalpa has lost the killer instinct that used to burst out of his eye sockets back when he terrorized two divisions for more than a decade in the 70s and 80s, and sees the world instead through the glassy eyes of his adulthood when he reflects on the career that has brought him all the praise he has earned in his life.
“It is truly an honor, it is unimaginable to me”, said Pintor in a telephone interview, ahead of his induction in the IBHOF this Sunday, June 12. “When someone signs up for a career such as this one, it is hard to imagine so many acknowledgments and accolades, and especially an honor given by so many special people who have taken my career into account to induct me into this Hall of Fame. It is something I am very proud of.”
Pintor (56-14-2, 42 KOs) held the WBC bantamweight belt for five years and later earned the super bantamweight belt from the same organization, holding it for a year in the mid-eighties. In his first title fight he defeated the legendary Carlos Zarate and defended his belt eight times. He later beat Juan ‘Kid’ Meza to grab his second belt. He now joins Baby Arizmendi, Ruben Olivares, Salvador Sanchez, Carlos Zarate, Miguel Canto, Vicente Saldivar, Pipino Cuevas, Carlos Palomino, Daniel Zaragoza, Humberto Gonzalez, Ricardo Lopez, and of course his idol Julio Cesar Chavez, whom he considers the epitome of Mexican boxing.
“He is the best Mexican fighter ever,” said Pintor, who has been equally vocal about his dislike for Chavez’s homonymous son, a feeling of reprobation split evenly between Junior and Canelo Alvarez. “But (Junior) and Canelo are setting bad examples for Mexican boxing today, and some people are starting to imitate their style. I think this will not be good for Mexican boxing in the future”.
Pintor’s style in his heyday was much more aggressive, as it was typical of the 70s, one of the best decades in boxing history especially for Mexico. But that style led to punishing bouts that took their toll on him and on his opponents, and one of them stands out in his memory as well as in the memory of many followers of the fight game.
“The good old Johnny, yes. That fight still hurts me,” says Pintor, talking about the most difficult time in his career: the aftermath of his bout with Wales Johnny Owen, who would die after his title fight with Pintor from the consequences of the punches received during that bout. “I am still deeply saddened by what happened. I didn’t want to hurt him. I did my best against him just like he did against me, because he was a true warrior. And now I will live with this grief until the day I die.”
The Owen fight is an intrinsic part of Pintor’s legend, but so are his equally legendary meetings with Zarate, with Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Gomez and so many others, in fights in which he displayed the talent of his idols and became, in turn, an idol himself.
Today, Pintor teaches boxing at an academy that he set up with his ring earnings, and lately he has worked for an editorial company in Mexico City as well.
“I feel satisfied and grateful, because at the end of the day I gave my best in the ring against the best possible fighters”, said Pintor. “I fought in Mexico and abroad, and I never turned down a challenge. And as a reward I got my reward, thank God. I am grateful and proud for being one of the many Mexicans that will continue populating this beautiful Hall of Fame.”
IBHOF Inductee Lupe Pintor