Ex-kickboxing champion dies
They were a family that lived and breathed martial arts and boxing.
All three Torres brothers became champion kickboxers, and even their sister, Luz, was accomplished in the ring.
South Lake Tahoe’s most successful fighting family lost its patriarch last week with the passing of Alejandro Torres. The former World Kickboxing Association North American champion died last Friday after an 18-year battle with diabetes. The 26-year South Shore resident was 45.
Alejandro was a mixed martial artist before the sport became popular in recent years. He studied Diaz Kempo Karate in 1977 in Mexico and became a renown bare-knuckle tournament fighter in his hometown of Ameca.
When he moved to the South Shore in 1979, Alejandro focused on Sung Lung Miu Kung Fu and started a career in the WKA in 1982. He developed a local following through his kickboxing bouts at Sahara, High Sierra, Horizon, Harrah’s and in Reno.
“He was the one we looked up to. He had a helluva spinning back fist,” Juan said. “We always looked forward to the knockout. We knew that it was coming.”
Accounts of Alejandro’s fighting ability have been passed on to the area’s next generation of fighters.
“As a fighter and being a little younger, I’ve looked up to and been more around his younger brothers Juan and Hector, but hearing the folkloric tales of Alejandro’s battles in Mexico from someone like my father over the years gave me a clear respect of his accomplishments and shed what could’ve been seen as a classic ‘other’ brother story,” said pro boxer Simon Ruvalcaba, who grew up in South Lake Tahoe. “Without getting explicit, he was known by many of the Tahoe residents from Ameca as a ‘bad dude.’ ”
Alejandro taught his sister and brothers martial arts and encouraged them to use the ring to stabilize their lives. He, however, didn’t limit imparting his fighting knowledge to family members.
“He was my Bruce Lee. Not just mine, but he was to a lot of people,” Juan said. “He would teach and not charge anything to the kids in the neighborhood. He did it to keep us out of trouble, to keep us off the streets. We probably would have gone in the wrong direction without him.”
Because of Alejandro, Hector, and especially Juan, carved out successful careers in the ring. In the early 1990s, Juan’s midsection was crammed with championship belts: a DRAKA world title, International Kickboxing Federation championship and International Karate Kickboxing Council world championship belts. After defeating one of his idols, Paul Vizio, Juan turned to boxing in search of a larger payday. He fought the likes of Zab Judah and was set to fight former world champion Cesar Bazan in June of 2000 at the Peppermill in Reno, when a prefight stroke nearly took his life and ended his fight career. He finished with a 16-7 pro record.
“He was very proud that somebody made it through,” said Juan, who now lives in Las Vegas and is training his son, J.J., for a possible mixed martial arts career. “I was pretty much his protégé. He molded me to his liking ever since I was 5 years old.”
Hector captured the IKKC North American middleweight title and fought Roseville celebrity Eric Regan for the IKF world title before turning to boxing. He compiled a 6-1 pro boxing record before changing careers and moving to Florida.
Alejandro was a consistent presence in the corner for his brothers during their pro careers.
“We only got into it because of my brother,” said Hector, who now resides in Las Vegas. “He was just a really devoted martial artist, very kindhearted and never asked anything from anybody.”
A memorial service for Alejandro is scheduled today at 3 p.m. at St. Theresa Catholic Church.