Genaro Hernandez Nears Final
Losing Fight Against Cancer
Story & Photos By Michele Chong - Courtesy Of myboxingfans
“Chatter Box” readers,
I have some very sad news to report: Genaro
“Chicanito” Hernandez is heading into his last–and
final round–in his courageous battle against the
rare form of cancer he has been fighting since
October 2008 when the first of his malignant tumors
Today I bring the worst news of all: Genaro is now
in his South Orange County home with his wife
Liliana, and their kids Amanda and Steven as he
awaits the final bell. Nothing more can be done;
treatment to fight the cancer has ceased–and he is
now partially paralyzed from the waist down. Somber
news indeed. It looks like this time it will be the
ultimate round for the champ, the fatal blow in his
brave three-year fight against cancer.
In my exclusive chat with
Genaro’s brother Rudy Hernandez, a boxing trainer and
renowned cutman, the family was strong and stoic in having
to sadly face the inevitable. For the brothers, this is a
tragic road they’ve traveled down before; both their mother
and father had cancer. Speaking with Rudy this morning, the
cornerman and UFC cutman told me that Genaro had been in the
hospital on Monday, by Wednesday he was paralyzed in his
legs, and is now at home waiting for that very last bell.
“He still has the fighting mentality; he’s still feisty–with
that warrior mentality!” his brother tells me with a small
chuckle. “But he’s home now, nothing medically can be done
anymore. We’re just trying to keep him as comfortable as
possible and trying to lift up his spirits in any way we
can.” Rudy has been a pillar of strength throughout this
heartbreaking ordeal and he said they will all be there for
Genaro’s wife and two young children too.
There are 12 rounds in a championship fight and I have
watched “Chicanito,” the true warrior he is, bravely fight
back against this deadly form of cancer round after round.
Throughout this time, I have shared happy news as well in a
roller-coaster timeline that only a fighter like Genaro
would be able to survive.
After first diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma (usually found
primarily in children) in the fall of 2008, I have also
shared many updates about Genaro. As a former WBC Super
Featherweight Champion, “Chicanito” has been a popular fan
favorite in the community and a boxer I’ve had the honor of
getting to know through the years.
In January 2009, the World Boxing Council (WBC) hosted a
benefit dinner and gala as a tribute to the Southern
California fighter. At that time, while he was on stage he
was on shaky legs, rocked by the brutal rounds of
chemotherapy that affected his voice, appetite, strength and
caused him to lose his hair. Behind the scenes, I watched as
the proud boxer had to steady himself on the shoulders of
others while trying to get to his feet–and stay on his feet.
But once the frail ex-champ took the stage with his family,
friends and fellow champions, his smile and strength was
unmistakable. There’s a reason why the Los Angeles slugger
became a champ. When he was knocked down by cancer, he kept
getting back up.
Unfortunately, Genaro (38-2-1, 17 KOs) was continuously
knocked to the canvas by the devastating punches we never
I had just called him a
couple of weeks ago to wish him a “Happy Birthday”
as the champ celebrated his 45th year on May 10.
Whenever I would call him for updates, sometimes it
was good news, other times the news was bleak. In
April 2009 I was thrilled to write about his first
remission. But in January 2010, I was forced to
report that the aggressive cancer had returned. In
June 2010 there was another brief remission for “Chicanito.”
Then in January of this year, things took a turn for
the worse. With his white blood cell count low, the
chemo and radiation continued but by then the cancer
had spread throughout his body with new spots of the
vicious disease appearing in brand new places.
Through these ups and downs, he would always remain
optimistic while I would marvel at how he never
complained. He was also adamant about raising
awareness in preventing cancer–and early detection
of the deadly disease. And he would always say, “I
will NOT give up!” And he never did.
As he would tell me about
his endless trips to M.D. Anderson in Houston, Texas, Genaro
would also always tell me of the many “angels” who have
helped him along the way like Bob Arum, Top Rank, the
Japanese promoter Teiken, the WBC, Thompson Boxing
Promotions, his brother Rudy, friends, family and fans,
among the countless individuals and organizations who have
all supported him in every round of his battle.
Fans loved the tough Mexican warrior for his clashes against
Floyd Mayweather Jr., Azumah Nelson, Jorge Paez, Oscar De La
Hoya, Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez, and so many others. He also
stepped in many times to lend time and support to others; he
was the first to give back to those in desperate need. I
know he visited Childrens Hospital Los Angeles many times. I
know he would buy Christmas gifts for children suffering
from cancer. And I know he was always at the annual WBCares
events to help kids. He did not do any of this for a
publicity stunt or any hidden agenda. That I know. I was
there on several occasions and observed Genaro giving back
to others, even while he was in pain battling his own losing
diagnosis. And in March of this year, he came out to attend
the WBC Japan Relief event in L.A. In a weakened state, he
was still fighting his grim fate.
While undergoing treatment, he still trained boxers and also
did ringside commentary for Top Rank. I saw him in action
last December at the Honda Center for the Urbano
Antillon-Humberto Soto fight. While he had to be in some
discomfort then, he never showed it. Always professional,
always prepared, we were all accustomed to seeing Genaro by
the boxing ring, right where he belonged.
And he has fought till the very end. Still swingin’ till
that end comes.
Now he is approaching that last round–and ultimately the
In signing off with his
brother Rudy, I told him I’d spread the word and
send prayers their way–and that maybe the power of
prayer can somehow work one last miracle. Rudy
Hernandez, a former fighter himself, also knows when
you have to throw in the towel. “Michele, without
sounding disrespectful…this time not even God can
help him,” he said softly, voice caught with
emotion. “People say, ‘As the story is written…No
one will die before his time.’ And everyone has
No one has fought more valiantly than Genaro
He is the exact definition of a “FIGHTER”: fight•er,
noun /ˈfītər/ A person or animal that fights, esp.
as a soldier or a boxer; A person who does not
easily admit defeat in spite of difficulties or
Cancer proved to be his most
difficult opposition ever.
NOW DEFEAT IS NEAR.
When he loses this final battle, I will remember him for the
courage, heart and pure strength he showed us all.
My friend “Chicanito” is a true fighter. A TRUE CHAMPION.
Please keep the champ and his family in your prayers.