To say Dennis Chavez was well-liked in the Albuquerque boxing community is like saying Hagler-Hearns was a pretty good fight, or that the young Mike Tyson punched kind of hard.
Use of the word “beloved” would not be a stretch.
“He was the kind of person that would just brighten up a room,” said Steve Garcia, an Albuquerque trainer and administrator. “You could have the worst day you could have and once you get with him … he’d lift up your spirits.”
Chavez, a ring announcer and an ardent supporter of the sport and the people in it, died on Wednesday of complications from COVID-19. He was 66.
Known to virtually everyone as “DC,” Chavez worked for Bernalillo County but for years moonlighted as a ring announcer for local amateur and professional boxing events.
“(But) I don’t even look at him as a ring announcer,” said Albuquerque boxer Josh Torres. “I look at him as a friend.”
Chavez made friends easily. His people skills, Torres said, reminded him of the late world champion Johnny Tapia.
“He would meet somebody, and it was like he’d already known him for 10 years,” Torres said. “I think a lot of that has to do with his character in general. He was just always happy, always cracking jokes, always laughing.”
Garcia said he’d known Chavez for some 20 years. Chavez was particularly close to Richard Mirabal, an Albuquerque trainer and promoter who died in August.
“I met him through Richard, when Richard was throwing shows when (Mirabal’s son) Vince was fighting,” Garcia said. “He’d be the announcer. He was always the announcer at the time.”
A few years later, Garcia said, when his daughter Jordanne and his protégé Santiago Giron began boxing, Chavez provided encouragement.
“When they were little, he was always, ‘Hey champs, hey champs,'” Garcia said. “He always brought their spirits up.
“That’s the kind of person he was. He was just an outgoing person, really outgoing.”
In addition to his work with the county, Chavez was an artist – fond of presenting friends with the artwork he produced.
“He was always giving me cool art pieces that he would do,” Torres said. “Just an awesome person.”
On Nov. 25, Chavez posted on Facebook that he’d been hospitalized after having been infected with COVID-19. He later lapsed into a coma.
After his death, tributes abounded on Facebook.
On Thursday, Al Torres, Josh’s father and trainer, posted a request that the boxing community come to a pause in Chavez’s honor that evening.
“In honor of our good friend DC, let’s have a synchronized moment of silence before we begin to train tonight at 5:30 pm,” the elder Torres wrote. “Let’s all videotape our prayers and post.”
Josh Torres said he, his father and others on their team had done the same after Mirabal’s death and after the loss of others in the New Mexico boxing community.
“But this time,” he said, “I think it’s really important for more than just ‘Team Pitbull’ to come together.
“I think everybody in the community needs to come together and just honor the life of DC, because he was so much more than boxing.”
Dennis Chavez 1954-2020