One year ago: Ernie Lopez
"Lopez was a warrior," actor Ryan O'Neal, who managed one of Lopez’s opponents, Hedgemon Lewis, said in 2004. "He was also a gentleman, a decent man. But as a fighter, Lopez would hit the other guy so much he would become exhausted. Because of that, Lopez would always fill an arena, because he would give fans their money's worth.... It was his heart that made him win."
Lopez died a year ago at 64 of complications from dementia. He twice lost welterweight title fights before sellout crowds at the Forum and had three memorable fights against Lewis, winning twice.
He struggled after his boxing career ended and was found in a Texas homeless shelter in 2004. That was the same year he was inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame. His brother, Danny, is a former featherweight champion.
Lopez’s obituary in The Times appeared on Oct. 5, 2009.
Photo: Ernie Lopez in 1968. Credit: Theo Ehret