1993 Inductee - Alvaro “Yaqui” Lopez

1993 Inductee - Alvaro “Yaqui” Lopez

1993 Mexican American Hall of Fame Inductee

There was a time when Stockton was a boxing mecca, a town that embraced young fighters and embodied the spirit of one of America’s most challenging sports. In the era of “Fat City,” boxing became the sport of the local hero who could display his talents in front of wildly enthusiastic fans jammed into the Civic Auditorium. Every so often, one of those fighters would take a giant step forward and earn a world-wide audience. Of those gifted few, Alvaro “Yaqui” Lopez was the one who stepped farthest.

Born in Zacatecas, Mexico, Lopez grew up with dreams of becoming a bullfighter. In a bullfighting ring at the age of 11, he broke his leg, and thoughts of becoming a great bullfighter faded. A few years later, it was a different ring – a boxing ring – that brought back dreams of glory and started him on a career that would span 17 years and 89 fights and make all of Stockton’s citizens proud.

With manager Jack Cruz and trainers Benny Casing and Danny Dagampat in his corner, Lopez began his boxing career in 1968 with several amateur fights. After he beat a Native American fighter in 1971, the Native American fans all wanted to know if he was Mexican or Native American. Cruz said he was a Yaqui Indian, and from then on, chants of “Yaqui, Yaqui” would follow Lopez into the ring. They would follow him through a 62-15 professional record over 13 years that included five would championship bouts.

Though Lopez never won the title, he did win the respect and admiration of some of the best light heavyweight fighters ever. Fighters like Victor Galindez, the world champion whom Lopez twice took the distance in 15 rounds before losing decision. Fighters like Matthew Saad Muhammad, to whom Lopez lost his fourth chance for light heavyweight title in a bout voted “Fight of the Year” by Ring Magazine. The eighth round of that fight was voted “Ring of the Year”. Fighters like Michael Spinks, Mike Rossman, Mike Quarry, Matthew Franklin, Jesse Burnett and Carlos DeLeon, all boxers whom Lopez fought in his professional career. For 10 years, Lopez was ranked in the top 10 on the world and once was ranked as high as number 2.

Heart and determination never let Lopez quit. He became a local hero and was acknowledged in various ways. Some of the many awards include induction into the Sports Hall of Fame of Stockton, Oakland and Sacramento; a community recognition award from the San Joaquin Lions Club; a certificate of appreciation for his contributions to the community from the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, and an award as California’s “Boxer of the Year” presented by the State Senate.