Genaro Hernandez: Tribute to a
Champ - “Chicanito’s” Service THIS MONDAY, June 13
By Michele Chong
Photos: Raymond Rodriguez
On June 7 Champion
Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez lost his brave battle
against cancer at the age of 45.
Passing away at his home in Mission Viejo, the boxer is
survived by his wife, Liliana, children Amanda and
Steven, father Joe Rudy, brother and his former trainer,
Rudy Hernandez, along with sisters and brothers Carmen,
Joe, Maria, and Victor, cousins, nieces, nephews and
more in the Hernandez family.
The popular fighter from Southern California was first
diagnosed with the deadly disease in 2008. For almost
three years I have watched the former world titlist
fight back against this vicious form of cancer that kept
returning even after “Chicanito’s” two all-too brief
remissions. His will to survive was remarkable, the war
he raged against his disease was beyond admirable in
fighting the good fight.
Throughout his struggle, countless individuals have been
in his corner, including those in boxing circles like
José Sulaimán, Mauricio Sulaimán, the World Boxing
Council (WBC), WBCares’ Jill Diamond, Top Rank, Bob
Arum, CompuBox, Teiken, Ken Thompson, Thompson Boxing
Promotions, Roy Englebrecht Promotions, the Maywood
Boxing Gym, and so many more. And since his passing, I
have heard so many amazing anecdotes, heartfelt comments
and decades-old remembrances about the former WBC and
WBA Super Featherweight Champion. Recollections so great
and from so many that I was happy to share with the
Hernandez family before Genaro’s untimely passing.
And Genaro’s family really was the cornerstone in his
all too short life. La Familia was his rock. And since
Genaro’s death, I have respected how Team Hernandez has
kept their unshakable faith, deep spirituality and
strength while facing this tragedy head on.
His brother Rudy, along with the whole family, has been
a force in being there for their champ.
And yesterday, it was Rudy who was the one who had to
tell us, “My brother Genaro is no longer with us. He’s
moved on to his next destination at 3:04 p.m. today.”
And it was his hermano and trainer Rudy that was in
Chicanito’s corner for the very last bout in his pro
career. Facing a young upstart in 21-year-old Floyd
Mayweather Jr., the brothers shared that final moment in
the ring back in 1998. Genaro had just two losses during
his championship career with defeats by Mayweather Jr.
and Oscar De La Hoya.
Outside of the ropes, he was defeated by a truly evil
foe that most can never beat–rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare
form of cancer.
This cannot be easy for Rudy and the family to have to
now have to lay their brother to rest. But just like
their beloved champion, the whole Hernandez clan has
faced the tragedy with dignity and grace.
“My little brother has departed to his next journey,”
announced a heartbroken Rudy. “I wish him well and until
we meet again.”
In confirming the details of Monday’s service, I wanted
to double check with Rudy that the funeral service is
open to the public and not just for immediate members of
Everyone can attend–IT IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
“I want the world to know!” Rudy, a former boxer
himself, current trainer and cutman, told me. “One last
hurrah.” Anyone who has ever met Genaro or Rudy knows of
their special bond, and also of that sense of humor the
pair shared between them, with no joke spared between
the two. Now Chicanito will be given one final hurrah by
his sibling and their family, who is immersed in boxing.
One last hurrah for a champion who made an impact on
In the sport of boxing,
it’s no secret that backbiting, trash talking and double
dealing are all just part of the game. We’re all used to
it, this dark side of boxing; the so-called politics of
the sweet science. Amidst the more negative aspects of
the fight game, Genaro stood out. Head and shoulders
above the rest he managed to always maintain such
dignity and class, heart and humor, strength combined
with vulnerability. A true “People’s Champ,” who was
often described as classy and a pure gentleman. Think
about it, folks. How often do you hear of anyone in
boxing being described as “classy” or “gentlemanly”?
I already knew of the many good deeds he did for others,
whether it be with time, money or support. And it wasn’t
like he was rolling in dough. In his heyday, champion’s
purses weren’t in the multi-millions like it is now.
Genaro also had well-documented financial troubles, an
early lack of medical insurance, and he almost lost his
home in a landslide that threatened their neighborhood.
Now after his passing, I am hearing even more stories of
his open-hearted generosity and thoughtfulness in
assisting others. It doesn’t surprise me, Genaro was
just a good soul whom everyone agreed was one of the
“good guys” in our sport.
And “Chicanito” will leave a legacy; he’s already left a
lasting impression on all of us.
Saying goodbye to him during a visit this past Sunday
was a difficult thing for me to do, personally. But I
was honored to be able to have that chance. The champ
was surrounded by his family–and he was surrounded,
protected and bathed in the pure love that everyone gave
him in that room. It was very powerful; I will never
forget it. Besides all of his relatives, an endless
stream of friends, gym mates, fellow fighters and
champions, including “Sugar” Shane Mosley also came out
to see the champion during what would sadly be his final
couple of days on Earth.
After his initial cancer diagnosis (with early–and
frightening–tests indicating he could lose an eye to the
fourth-stage cancer), I know he fought for each and
every day in his survival. And toward the end, he fought
for every hour, for every minute until finally, every
precious second. He never gave up. Why? You know the
answer. Because he was a fighter, and beyond that he was
To become a world champion is no easy feat. To stay a
champion is even harder. You will never hear a bad word
about Genaro Hernandez. He was made of what a champ
should be: Courage, Strength, Heart.
His cousin Yolanda Cervantes said it best. “He was a
fighter both INSIDE and OUTSIDE of the ring,” his prima
spoke of the fallen hero.
While his final “Ten Count” will take place on Monday,
he will remain in the hearts of his family, friends and
fans. He was a beloved relative and friend to so many
and a favorite with boxing fans around the world.
A CHAMPION GONE TOO SOON.
Rest in peace, Champ.
SERVICES for Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez
DATE: Monday, June 13
TIME: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
PLACE: Resurrection Church
ADDRESS: 3324 Opal Street, Los Angeles, CA 90023
(Cross streets are 8th and Lorena)
Church: (323) 268-1141