In Memory of Diego Corrales, Part II

By Dan Angeles


In Memory of Diego Corrales, Part II

To the casual fight fan Diego “Chico” Corrales was a man defined by a single fight, one that took place on May 7, 2005, the dramatic win over Jose Luis Catillo, which took place exactly two years before his untimely death in a motorcycle accident. To those of us that took the time to dig deeper, he was much more.  Chico was a warrior in the ring, but he had been battle tested long before the bright lights had ever shined upon him.  He was born on August 25, 1977 in Columbia, South Carolina to a Mexican mother and Colombian father, but soon moved to Sacramento, California where he was involved in street gangs, and at the age of 13 he witnessed his best friend die at the hands of a drive by shooting.  He turned to boxing for an outlet, and by doing so, he complied an amateur record of 105-12.  He had found something he was very good at. 

He made his pro debut in 1996 with a TKO win over Everett Berry.  He continued to fight in obscure places that ranged from Des Moines, Iowa to Tijuana, Mexico until October 23, 1999 when he found himself in Las Vegas fighting then 32-0 Roberto Garcia.  That night he improved his own record to 29-0, and also won the IBF 130-pound title.  He was becoming a great success story in the ring, a new HBO fighter, but outside the ring his life was quickly unraveling.  He once had his ex-wife sell his coveted boxing straps on Ebay out of spite.  This was the reason he got “Pain for Love” tattooed above his heart.  “There is so much love for pain inside me, so much I have to work through. It’s what fires me,” he once told a San Diego newspaper.  “It’s what burns inside me and motivates me. It’s what pushes me every day to”  If that wasn’t bad enough, he had also gotten in a domestic dispute with his ex-wife Maria (who was pregnant at the time) that turned into such a brutal beating he landed himself in jail with a 24 month sentence.  Corrales admitted the confrontation that took place is one that he regrets, but he was never been the monster the media made him out to be. 
His jail sentencing all took place right before his big fight against with Floyd Mayweather Jr..  With the jail time lingering in the back of his mind, coupled with the strain he put on his body to make the 130 pound weight limit, he received the worst lopsided loss of his career.  He spent the next 24 months in California’s Tracey Prison where he thought long and hard about his life, and what got him to the lowest point in his life. 

Before he went to serve his time, he gave his then girlfriend (now his wife/widow) Michelle all the money he had.  It was the only way a man who has been through so much could come to trust someone.  If she was there when he got out, she was trustworthy, if she was gone, then she wasn’t.  Well she was.  Even though he had been out of the fight game for 2 years, with her support and encouragement, he jumped back in.  He fought a few more fights before landing a huge fight with the then unbeaten Acelino Freitas in which he won by way of an exciting tenth-round TKO.  His career has once again been resurrected.

Michelle helped change him into the man he was before the tragic accident.  A good man.  She showed Diego that he not only had the ability to overcome the odds in the ring, but outside of the ring as well.  She was the reason he was quoted saying “I know exactly where I am going to be after this fight. Win or lose, I will go home as a husband and a father.”

Unlike many other fighters of his time, Chico was never concerned about money.  What really concerned him was how he would be remembered inside the ring.  Well Chico, we will remember you for not only your bravery inside the ring, but outside the ring as well.  Thank you Chico.  Thank you.

“This is my success story. It comes out of a terrible mess,” Corrales said. “I fought back from nothing. And here I am. I have the confidence back. Things have come full circle. I made a lot of bad decisions. My wife and I are happy with what we have accomplished.”???“To all the naysayers out there, three years have gone by and nothing has gone wrong. I went through counseling and made a lot of changes in my life.”??“What drives me is resilience. You can go to the top of the mountain to the bottom, then back to the top. I have done that with resilience.”???

Regarding his arrest and time in jail:??“I paid my price and took my punishment. I came back a totally different person. When you come to a time and question yourself, you have to make changes. Since coming back, I try to be the best person, the most positive role model, and the best husband and father I can be.”??“I do not think my wife, Michelle, realizes how much strength she has. She was put in a really tough position and she handled it great. When I lost my faith, she did not.”??“When you are in a bad situation, you find out who really is there for you. Fourteen months later, the same people who walked me into jail walked me out. I will always be eternally grateful to my family for that.”