By Jaime Castro-Núńez: Photo: Carlos Capella/El Tiempo - This isn’t 2008´s greatest boxing news, but certainly we shouldn’t ignore the fact that after two decades a 37-year-old retired pugil, instead of turning trainer, promoter or something like that, decides to go back to school to complete the education he was supposed to get twenty years ago.
Article posted on 28.12.2008
Irene “Mambaco” Pacheco was born in San Juan de Urabá (Colombia) on March 26, 1971. He captured the IBF Flyweight title in 1999, after dispatching Luis Cox in nine rounds. He successfully defended the crown six times against rivals such as Masibulele Makepula, Mike Trejo and Damaen Kelly, and lost it to Vic Darchinyan in December 2004. The last time we saw him was on March 30, 2007 in Tucson, Arizona, when he faced Jhonny González for the WBO Bantamweight title. The González-Pacheco showed an aged, rigid Pacheco, unable to decipher González, who finally claimed the belt in the ninth round. Walking to the dressing room, after being knocked out, “Mambaco” knew his boxing career was over.
Unlike many boxers who don’t know what to do after hanging the gloves, Irene Pacheco understood his future was on a classroom. In fact, he had promised his mother some day he would get a university degree. He wanted to enter college in July 2007, but soon he learned he needed to finish high school. He enrolled in an accelerated high school program in Barranquilla, which he completed last week. “It’s an achievement against all odds,” he stated. His classmates gave him a standing ovation and after the ceremony he was the person everybody wanted a picture with. Champ here, champ there, champ everywhere. “Mambaco” stole the show! “Champ, this is a blessing, keep working hard and God will give you more,” a lady told him. “This is just a small step. Next July I’ll study Physical Education at Universidad del Atlántico… I’ll be a professional.”