By Randy De La O
When I saw this photo of Ernie “Indian Red” Lopez recently, I couldn’t help but be moved. You can still see the fighter’s determination, but you can also see the pain of a hard life, whether by his own choosing, or by fate, circumstances and life. I wonder if he realizes just how vital a part of California’s boxing history he is, especially to Los Angeles boxing history, which has become, arguably the best fight town in the country, in terms of a fan base, and in it’s rich contribution to boxing in general. Lopez was inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame on March 6, 2004, and he certainly deserved it. Thanks to Don Fraser for making sure it happened.
Ernie “Indian Red” Lopez began his professional career on January 1, 1964, winning a 6 round decision over Armand Laurenco, at The Castaway Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. They would fight two more times, drawing in the second fight, and Lopez stopping him in their third fight in the first round of a ten round fight. He fought his last fight against future welterweight champion John H. Stracey on October 29, 1974 at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, London. He was stopped in the seventh round of a scheduled 10 round fight. In between those two fights he fought the likes of Armando Muniz, Jose “Mantequilla” Napoles, Emile Griffith and Hedgemon Lewis. Lopez and Lewis had three fights, with Lopez stopping Lewis twice, and losing a decision in the second fight. He was a mainstay at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, and in the Hotel arenas in Las Vegas. His career record reads: 60 fights with 47 wins, 23 of them by KO, he lost 12 times and he drew once. Not too shabby.
For reasons of his own Ernie seemingly dropped off the planet, beginning in the 1970’s he hitchhiked and roamed the country, coming back from time to time to visit with his family, however briefly. In the early 1990’s he disappeared completely. The family had no idea if Ernie was dead or alive, until early 2004, with the help of the Los Angeles Police Department, he was found in the Presbyterian Night Shelter in Fort Worth, Texas.
Any fight fan knows that Ernie is the older brother of Danny “Little Red” Lopez. I hope that they have reconciled any differences they may have had. One was a champ, one wasn’t. Two different fighters, two different weight classes, completely different opponents, one should not reflect on the other. With or without an official title Ernie “Indian Red” Lopez will always be a champ to his many fans. He always fought with heart and was crowd favorite. If ever a boxer’s life and career called out for movie to be made, it’s Lopez’. I can’t imagine a more compelling story. We are proud that he is one of Los Angeles’ Greats!
Ernie's career record can be found at this link to Boxrec.com