Joe Bruno on Boxing — The Disgrace of Tony Ayala

News Flash!!! Convicted rapist returns to the ring.
In 2000, Tony Ayala Jr., one of the most despicable human beings I’ve ever met in the sport of boxing (and that’s saying something) made his return to the ring after spending sixteen years in the slammer for his second rape conviction.
“El Torito” (Baby Bull) stopped an outclassed Manuel Esparaza in the third round of their scheduled middleweight bout.  Ayala showed some of the punching power that made him one of the feared fighters of the early 1980s before he was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the rape of a New Jersey woman. Ayala also showed plenty of ring rust against an opponent who lost his last fight on a sixth-round knockout, and would have had no business being in the ring with an Ayala in his prime.
“It felt like the old days,” Ayala said. “I can’t tell you how much this meant to me.”
I hope he meant “the old days” boxing in the ring, and not when he was terrorizing helpless young women.
Any sportswriter who spent any time around Tony Ayala Sr. and his brood in the early 1980’s felt like he was hanging with Ma Barker and her gang.
Tony’s old man, Tony Sr., was hardly a positive role model for his troubled sons. Oldest son Mike, a world ranked featherweight, battled drugs throughout his career. Mike also had constant battles with his father, and sometimes it got downright nasty.
In 1980, Mike won a decision at the Felt Forum in Madison Square Garden. When I interviewed Mike after the fight, he asked me if I was going to Totowa’s Ice World the following week to see his younger brother Tony fight the main event. I said yes, and Mike told me, “When you see my father tell him I said hi, and tell him I’m sorry.”
A few days later, Tony Jr. won on an easy first round knockout over some Joe Schmoe for the Duvas out in Totowa, New Jersey. I did a quick interview with father and son, then I turned to Tony Sr. and told him what Mike had said.
Tony Sr. turned on me with angry eyes and screamed, “Tell my son Mike he can–” And I can’t say what he said next.
Tony Jr. was standing right next to good old dad as the father continued his profane verbal assault against older brother Mike.
Tony Jr. was first arrested for sexual assault when he was only fifteen years old. He attacked a young girl in the ladies room of a drive-in theater in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas. Ayala raped the poor girl, then roughed her up a bit. But because Tony Jr. was good with his fists, and had a promising pro boxing career, he somehow got off with only a slight slap on the wrists.
No prison time included.
Tony Jr. signed with the Duvas, and by 1982, he was one of the top junior middleweights in the world. This teenage snake was so vicious in the ring, he once spat at a fallen opponent named Robbie Epps.
Then Tony Jr. decided it was time to get down and dirty again.
Ayala was arrested for raping a young woman in her own bedroom in rural New Jersey. No slap on the wrist for El Torito ( El Disgratciata) this time. Thirty five years to life. But with the new math applied to his sentence, that somehow translated out to be only sixteen years in the can.
Ayala Jr. did his time, and like any citizen of the good old US of A, he is entitled to resume his wretched life outside prison walls.
Still, there’s something obscene about this two-time rapist making $200,000 in his first fight in almost two decades against such inferior competition. And on pay-per-view to boot.
What disturbs me most is that not one woman’s rights group picketed Ayala’s first fight back, like they did at Tyson’s when he fought for the first time after his rape conviction. In fact, before Ayala’s fight, two middle-aged woman carried a large banner around the ring that read “Hispanic Women For Better Justice support Torito.” These misguided morons even threw a brunch in Ayala’s honor the following day on the campus of San Antonio State College.
Better justice for whom? Certainly not for the hundreds of women who are raped and beaten annually in this country.
This sickening display of misplaced loyalties makes me want to puke. Sorry, but I just can’t help but wanting only bad things to happen to Tony Ayala Jr. in the future. Maybe soon El Torito (El Disgratciata) will be on the short end of someone else’s fiendish fury.
Then justice might finally be served.

As an addendum to the Ayala story, one of Ayala’s new advisors is the infamous, roguish, never to be trusted, but hard to dislike Don Elbaum. Elbaum has the reputation that if you shake hands with him, you better count your fingers quick.
One of the best Elbaum stories concerns a benefit dinner he once threw for the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson. At the night’s end, Elbaum stood at the podium, and with tears in his eyes he presented Sugar Ray with a set of old boxing gloves, ones Elbaum claimed were the very gloves Sugar Ray wore in this first pro fight four decades earlier. Sugar Ray graciously accepted the gloves, then suddenly noticed they were two right gloves.
Elbaum just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.


5 Responses to “Joe Bruno on Boxing — The Disgrace of Tony Ayala”

  1. Mr Ayala was a great man made many champs of all gender he will be greatly missed and his name will always live on hope to see him soon again one day from his fighter daniel dynamite Arriaga. I won’t let u down coach

  2. Ayala was a monster back in the old days.
    He had that awesome aggressive style, killer instinct you name it….The guy could punch through a brick wall, and that left hook was something else.
    Shame he commited such a crime, he obviously had issues.
    He would have been world champion at some point for sure.
    His nickname suited him well “El Torito” The baby bull.

    The man has done his time, i think its best he be left alone to live the rest of his life now.

  3. Jimmy Dorsey Says:

    I used to train at the gym he trained at and also did road work with Tony A.,Livingston Bramble,Rocky Lockridge a few times a week back in the early eighties while fighting under Main events promoters. Great times!

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