Tony Ayala Jr.

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Name: Tony Ayala Jr
Alias: El Torito
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas, USA
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, USA
Died: 2015-05-12 (Age:52)
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 171cm
Reach: 173cm
Pro Boxer: Record
Amateur Boxer: Record

Trainer: Tony Ayala Sr.
Managers: Lou Duva and Shelly Finkel (1980-1982), Dr. Brian Raditz (1999-2003)

Tony Ayala Jr. Gallery

Tony Ayala Jr. is best known as a fierce, gifted and troubled fighter who became the No. 1-rated junior middleweight contender before a rape conviction sent him to prison in 1983.

Boxing Career

Nicknamed "El Torito" (The Little Bull), Ayala was a blunt puncher and an aggressive stalker in the ring. He had a bully’s chip on his shoulder, with a penchant for trash talking and other intimidating (some said dirty) tactics. "I was Tyson before there was a Tyson," Ayala said in a 2001 television interview. "People feared who I was."

Older brothers Mike Ayala and Sammy Ayala, as well a younger brother Paulie Ayala, were also professional boxers. Mike unsuccessfully fought for a world title three times — once as a featherweight and twice as a super bantamweight — and Sammy was a world-ranked super lightweight. All four brothers were trained by their father, Tony Ayala Sr.

As an amateur, Ayala compiled a record of 140-8 (60 KOs). He won the National Junior Olympics Light Middleweight Championship in 1977 and 1978, and the 1979 National Golden Gloves Middleweight Championship in 1979. [1]

On January 16, 1981, in his eighth pro fight, Ayala knocked out Jose Luis Baltazar in the second round, then spit on him because Baltazar allegedly insulted him before the bout.

Ayala appeared on the cover of the August 1981 issue of KO Magazine as one of "Tomorrow's Champions," along with Alex Ramos, Bobby Czyz and Johnny Bumphus.

An article about Ayala appeared in the October 19, 1981, issue of Sports Illustrated. In the article, promoter Bob Arum called Ayala "the best young fighter I've ever seen in my life," and trainer Angelo Dundee said, "There's no telling what he can do. He's going to be champion." [2]

On September 16, 1981, Ayala fought Jose Baquedano on the undercard of Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns I at Caesars Palace. After he knocked out Baquedano in the first round, the Associated Press and United Press International called Ayala "the heir apparent to the junior middleweight title." [3]

Ayala was scheduled to meet Roberto Duran on November 19, 1982, but the fight was called off after Duran lost to Kirkland Laing on September 4. Kirkland's victory would be named Upset of the Year by The Ring.

On November 20, 1982, Ayala fought Carlos Maria del Valle Herrera, the WBA's No 1-ranked junior middleweight contender, in a title eliminator. Ayala won by a third-round knockout and became the mandatory challenger for WBA junior middleweight champion Davey Moore.

Ayala appeared on the cover of the December 1982 issue of The Ring with the caption "Boxing's Bad Boy."

Ayala was scheduled to fight Davey Moore for the WBA junior middleweight championship in May 1983, but the fight was called off after Ayala was arrested in January for raping a woman at knifepoint. He would serve 16 years in prison. [4]

After being paroled in 1999, Ayala moved back to his hometown of San Antonio, Texas, and launched a comeback. He won five consecutive fights by knockout before he was knocked out by former IBF junior middleweight champion Yori Boy Campas in July 2000.

In his last fight, Ayala was knocked out in eleven rounds by Anthony Bonsante in April 2003. He went 9-2 (8 KOs) during his comeback and finished with a record of 31-2 (27 KOs).

Criminal Record

Ayala claimed he began drinking and shooting heroin in his early teens. He also said that he was molested by a family friend between the ages of 9 and 11, telling no one until he disclosed it to a prison counselor.

"Looking back, that was ground zero of what set everything on its course," Ayala said, referring to the molestation, in a 1998 prison interview with The New York Times. "I don’t blame everything on that, because I made the decisions to do the things I did. But it explains why I did what I did."

Ayala attacked and assaulted a girl in the bathroom of a drive-in theater in San Antonio on December 23, 1978. Ordered to stand trial as an adult, he pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated assault — reduced from attempted aggravated rape — and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in March 1980. The sentence was reduced to 10 years' probation in June 1980 after the girl appeared in court and testified that she felt both she and Ayala had suffered enough.

According to a newspaper report, the girl's suffering was eased by a substantial cash payment. "We paid a large amount of money to get out of it," Tony Sr. told the Dallas Times Herald. "I won't say how much. But Bob Arum needed a commitment from us for television. So he says, 'Pay the damn girl off.' We paid X amount of dollars, and that's actually all they were looking for." [5]

He was arrested on August 16, 1982, in San Antonio and charged with burglary. Ayala said he had been drinking and had stumbled into the wrong house.

The New York Times reported on August 22, 1982, that Ayala would enter a clinic for a minimum of 28 days in an attempt to solve emotional problems.

"Tony needs help," said promoter Dan Duva, son of Lou Duva, Ayala's co-manager. "He definitely has emotional problems. He is not a criminal. He doesn't need to be put in jail."

Duva said Ayala planned to move to New Jersey — where the Duvas were based — in order to get away from what they called an unhealthy environment at home in San Antonio. [6]

Ayala was indicted on a a burglary charge on August 25, 1982. [7]

After a night of drinking to celebrate the New Year, Ayala returned to his apartment complex in West Paterson, N.J., in the early morning of January 1, 1983. But instead of going home, he broke into the apartment of a 30-year-old schoolteacher by climbing through a window. Once inside, he tied the woman to her bed, and then raped and sodomized her at knifepoint. The woman's roommate, who was in another room, confronted Ayala, but he threatened her with the knife. She slipped out of the apartment and telephoned the police.

When the authorities arrived and searched the grounds of the complex, they found Ayala stripped to the waist and wandering about in a drunken stupor. He was arrested shortly after 6 a.m. and arraigned later in the afternoon.

On January 10, a Passaic County grand jury indicted Ayala on seven counts. He was charged with burglary, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, making a threat to kill, making a terroristic threat, and two counts of possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.

After a two-week trial in April 1983, a jury took three and a half hours to find him guilty. Judge Amos Saunders of Passaic County Superior Court sentenced him to 35 years in prison with the stipulation that he serve 15 years before becoming eligible for parole. [8]

In September 1983, Ayala's probation from 1978 was revoked and he was ordered to serve a 10-year sentence for the 1982 burglary in San Antonio. His 10-year Texas sentence was made concurrent with his 35-year New Jersey sentence. [9]

On December 12, 2000, Ayala was shot and then jailed on charges of breaking into a woman's home.

Nancy Gomez, an 18-year-old high school senior who regularly worked out with Ayala at a gym and sometimes had dinner with him, told the Associated Press that she shot him after he appeared in the home where she stays with friends at 3:45 a.m.

"He put his hand in front to get the gun away from me, and I shot him," Gomez said.

Ayala was shot in the left shoulder, and he was released from the hospital later in the day. He was charged with burglary with intent to commit assault.

Deputy Chief Richard Gleinser said investigators believed Ayala entered the home through an unlocked back door. But Sandra Gutierrez, who took Gomez into her home while she finished high school, said the back door was locked and she believed he climbed through an unlocked window.

Gomez told the AP that she awoke on the couch and saw a man in a long dark coat whom she did not recognize in the living room. She said she ran to Gutierrez's room and shook her, whispering, "Somebody's in the house!"

Gutierrez said she grabbed a .45-caliber handgun from the closet and gave it to Gomez.

Gomez said she asked Ayala what he was doing in the house and he said, "Baby, I'm here to talk to you." [10]

While he awaited trial, he recovered from his injury and won his next fight while wearing an electronic monitor around his ankle.

On September 17, 2001, pleaded guilty to burglary in a deal that called for 90 days in jail and 10 years' probation. A more serious charge — burglary with intent to commit sexual assault — was dropped. [11]

Ayala was taken into custody in December 2003 after he was accused of twice having sex with a 14-year-old girl, which he denied. He was released on January 23, 2004, after state prosecutors dropped their effort to send him back to prison, saying defense lawyers had severely damaged the credibility of a teenage girl who accused him of having sex with her.

Under intense cross-examination, the girl conceded that she had told several different versions of her story about sex with Ayala to police, her friends and other people. The girl also acknowledged that she had falsely accused her stepfather of sexually molesting her for four years, saying she made up that story because she was mad at him. [12]

Ayala was jailed on July 8, 2004, for violating the terms of his probation after a traffic stop. He was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, driving without a license and no proof of insurance, as well as speeding. He then allegedly refused to take a drug test and told a probation officer that he had used heroin and was in possession of a sexually oriented magazine, all of which were violations of his probation. On July 28, Ayala was sentenced to 10 years in prison for violating terms of his probation. [13]

On April 10, 2014, Ayala's father, Tony Sr., died due to complications from Diabetes. Ayala was granted a furlough to attend the funeral, which took place on April 16. Nine days later, he was released from prison after serving his sentence without incident.

Upon his release, Ayala was met by Dr. Brian Raditz, his former prison counselor in New Jersey. Raditz said he planned to spend a couple days with Ayala to discuss his future. He said the possibilities included a return to boxing and working as a substance abuse counselor. [14]


Ayala was found dead at his family’s boxing gym in San Antonio on May 12, 2015.

Heroin and a syringe were found next to the body, San Antonio police disclosed in a report that says investigators suspect a drug overdose killed Ayala.

According to the police report, the items were found on a desk next to Ayala's body, which was found face-down on the floor next to the desk and chair. Investigators said the syringe contained what appeared to be a narcotic and that a ball of heroin wrapped in tape was found on the desk with a cooker cap and a spoon.

No sign of trauma was found on the body, police said.

According to the report, a woman whom officers found weeping over his body said she and Ayala had been drinking and quarrelling in a house they shared the night before. About 1 a.m., he left the house angry, she said. About 7:30 a.m., sensing that something was wrong, she went to the gym and found his body.

The woman's name was blacked out in the report. [15]