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The Day in Sports | COUNTDOWN TO 2000 / A day-by-day
recap of some of the most important sports moments
of the 20th Century: MAY 19, 1995

He Lost the Weight, Then Lost His Life

May 19, 1999|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Boxing got another black eye four years ago today.

The scenario was all too familiar: Boxer undergoes rapid weight loss to make weight limit, takes severe beating, lapses into coma, is taken to hospital and dies.

Colombian super-featherweight Jimmy Garcia, 13 days after he collapsed after his title match with Gabriel Ruelas, died at a Las Vegas hospital.

Later, it came out that Garcia lost 30 pounds over a two-month training period. Some boxing and medical people believed he came to the fight too weak to properly defend himself.

Whatever the reason, he took a battering and collapsed in his corner shortly after the bout was stopped in the 11th round.

Thirty-five minutes later, he was in surgery. Doctors found a bleeding vein in his brain, which they surmised began during the bout.

He was declared brain dead and his life-support systems were turned off 13 days after the fight.

Garcia's death stoked arguments by the American Medical Assn., among others, that boxing should be outlawed.

The sport's defenders again pointed out that boxing's fatality rate is actually low when compared to activities such as motorcycle racing, sky diving, horse racing, hang gliding and mountaineering.

In fact, a 1980 study showed there had been 335 professional and amateur boxing deaths worldwide between 1945 and 1979, and that the fatality rate was actually declining because of shorter amateur bouts.

Also on this date: In 1997, Troy Ruttman, who won the Indianapolis 500 at age 22 in 1952, died of cancer at 67. He's still the youngest Indy winner. . . . In 1961, Bill Shoemaker rode his 4,000th winner, aboard Guaranteeya at Hollywood Park. . . . In 1961, UCLA sophomore half-miler Andy Dunkell scored a major upset at Occidental College with a 1:48.9 win in a quadrangular meet with USC, Oxy and Arizona State. Dunkell, whose previous best was 1:54.2, defeated Oxy's AAU champion, Jim Cerveny, and USC's Warren Farlow.

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