"What I needed most was some money," Zamora says. "Because I had won a medal in Munich, the Olympic Committee said it would help me a little. But it gave me nothing. No one keeps promises. I was not a young boy in the streets. I didn't like to ask my parents for any money."
Gallardo was waiting with a professional contract, but the Zamoras told him to take a walk.
"Gallardo was something else," Zamora says, his young face grim. "When I began to fight as an amateur I was less than 18 and he asked my father to sell him a contract. He wanted the rights to my life, to sell myself to him forever. He wanted to adopt me. Either he loved me or he knew I'd make him an awful lot of money." The Zamoras decided it was more the latter.
Instead, Zamora signed with Hernandez, who had guided him during his amateur career. A short bear of a man of 65, all but 15 of them spent in boxing, Hernandez is the busiest and most successful manager in Mexico. His stable of fighters today is so big—it numbers more than 150—that he has to divide them between two gyms where they are ministered to by four full-time trainers. In addition to Zarate, Hernandez now manages Ruben Olivares, the former bantamweight champion, and he helped develop two other former titleholders, Juan Zurita and Manuel Ortiz.
Early on, Zamora's father suggested that Hernandez wasn't working hard enough in his son's behalf. He thought the manager was devoting more time to Zarate and Olivares. Too, there was a matter of money. On March 14, 1974, after winning 11 straight fights by knockouts, none going past the ninth round, Zamora stopped Hong Soo-hwan of South Korea in the fourth round to win the WBA bantamweight title.
"Before I became champion, Cuyo was a good fellow to me," Zamora says. "But when I started to make big money I saw a lot of wrong things. Like signing fight contracts and discovering I wasn't getting as much money as I expected. For my first title defense I signed a fight contract through Cuyo for the Los Angeles Forum. As a champion I should have got TV rights. But in my contract it didn't say anything about TV rights. I didn't get any TV money. Somebody else got it. It was my last fight for Cuyo."
Now managers do not customarily sell the contracts of champions, at least not very young ones with astonishing punching power. And none for only $40,000.
"I did," Hernandez says mildly. "Anything to get rid of the father. He knew nothing about boxing and always was inventing things to make me tired. He thought he was going to make a big fortune with his son, but there are a lot of fighters like Zamora. The streets of Mexico are full of tough young kids who can punch. His father thinks he is smart, but he is stupid. One of my best business deals ever was to sell Zamora."
Since their parting, Zamora has defended his championship five times, winning all five fights by knockouts: Thanomjit Sukhothai in four, Socrates Batoto in two, Eusebio Pedroza in two, Gilberto Illeuca in three and Hong Soo-hwan in 12. Now he has won 27 bouts, all by knockouts. It is worth noting that as a result he has fought only 80 rounds. Most preliminary fighters have seen more action. Some feel that this lack of experience may be a handicap when he meets Zarate.
"Fighting Carlos is completely necessary," says Zamora, who may accept a $100,000 offer to meet Zarate in a non-title bout. "Carlos is in his business, and I am in my business. We are still very good friends, but he can make a lot of money and I can make a lot of money. And that is why we do this."