This is a reprint of a column from Nov. 20, 2003 - four days after the death of El Paso boxing enthusiast Ricardo Lujan. It has been 10 years today since his untimely passing. He will always be remembered.
By Matthew Aguilar
El Paso Times
This was supposed to be a column about Saturday night's brilliant
performance by Manny Pacquaio, and how boxing had an exciting new star.
It was supposed to be about the bravery of Marco Antonio Barrera -- who
was handed a severe beating but exited the ring with honor.
And it was supposed to be about a new pound-for-pound list, and how
Pacquaio figured in.
After the news of Ricardo Lujan's death early Sunday morning, none of
what went on between the ropes Saturday at the Alamodome seems to much
It doesn't much matter at all.
Lujan, 34, was heading back to hometown El Paso from the
Pacquaio-Barrera fight in San Antonio early Sunday when his car skidded
into a median and hit a steel beam. Lujan, a passenger, died, along with
the driver and another passenger. All three had been assisting HBO in
its production of the fight.
As usual, Ricardo was there looking to help in any way he could.
Afterwards, friends tried to convince him to stay the night in San
Antonio rather than making the long trek back to El Paso in the middle
of the night.
But, no, Ricardo had something to do. Some think he was trying to make
it back in time for church.
It's fitting that, amid the horrific crash scene, police found boxing
memorabilia. Ricardo Lujan lived for the sport. It grabbed hold and
never let go.
He was a participant of the sweet science in almost every capacity:
Fighter. Production assistant. Promoter. Trainer. Writer. Fan.
Boxing was his passion.
But there were many layers to Ricardo Lujan.
He was "Paydirt Pete" in his college years at UTEP. He was a regular
parishioner at St. Raphael's Catholic Church. He loved to salsa dance.
He trained fighters at Powerhouse Gym. He was an avid reader.
The night before a Nov. 7 fight card at the Don Haskins Center in which
he aided coordinator Lester Bedford, most of the fight staff disappeared
into the night -- more than ready to party.
Lujan had a Bible-study session with main event fighter Angel Manfredy.
He was as genuine as Oscar De La Hoya's left hook.
The next boxing card will be a difficult road to navigate. No Ricardo
Lujan means no big smile. No big handshake. No big hug. No talk of
boxing's latest upset.
Just one punch-sized void in the chest. And a multi-combination to the
But if there is one blessing to come from this tragedy, it's that it has
caused El Paso's sports community to pause. Pause to reconsider
priorities. And try a little harder to be like the man himself.
Ricardo Lujan embodied all that was good about a human being. He was
never bitter, never unkind, never angry and always respectful.
Maybe he was here to be an oh-so-temporary role model -- before moving
on to the place he was destined for right from the opening bell.
As friend Bedford said at Wednesday's funeral, in life, Ricardo was the
undisputed champ -- via unanimous decision.
So, as we grieve for Ricardo Lujan, let's also celebrate his life. It
was full and robust. He had family and friends. And he died doing what
Giving to his passion -- boxing.
Matthew Aguilar may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @MatthewAguilar5