Home Boxing History Puncher from the Past: ‘Indian Red’ Ernie Lopez

Puncher from the Past: ‘Indian Red’ Ernie Lopez

Born: 23 September 1945 Fort Duchesne , Utah
Died: 3 October 2009 Pleasant Grove Utah
Record: 61 fights, 49 wins (25 by KO/TKO) 11 Losses , 1 draw.
Turned Pro: June 1963. Last fight: October 1974
Weight Division: Welterweight

Beat: Armand Lourenco (twice), Pulga Serrano, Al Andrews, Johnny Brooks (thrice), Jose Stable*, Tito Marshall, Musashi Nakano, Gabe Terronez, Hedgemon Lewis (twice), Raul Soriano, Chucho Garcia, Manuel Avitia, Ruben Rivera, Peter Cobblah, Manuel Fierro, Oscar Abalardo**, Sal Martinez, Manuel Gonzalez*,
Lost to: Don Minor, Johnny Brooks, Adolph Pruitt*, Raul Soriano, Hedgeman Lewis, Jose Napoles (twice)**, Emile Griffith (twice)**, Armando Muniz*, John H Stracey**.
Drew with: Armand Lourenco
** World Title Holders
*World title challengers

-1963/64 Won his first ten fights then in December 1964 was outpointed by Don Minor for the North American welterweight title.
-1965 Was 3-0-1 drawing with and then knocking out Armand Laouenco
-1966 Ten fights and was 8-2 going 2-1 in fights with Johnny Brooks, beating Jose Stable and Tito Marshall but losing to Adolph Pruitt.
-1967 Won all 9 of his fights beating Benito Juarez, Johnny Brooks, Musashi Nakano and Doug McLeod.
-1968 Went 6-0 with wins over Raul Soriano and Gabe Terronez and stopped 22-0 Hedgemon Lewis in nine rounds.
-1969 Was 4-1 Stopped Serano and outpointed Chucho Garcia then lost on points to Hedgemon Lewis in July and stopped Lewis in the tenth round in October.
-1970 February was floored three times and outpointed by Jose Napoles in a challenge for the WBA and WBC titles. Beat Manuel Avitia, Ruben Rivera and Cipriano Hernandez
-1971 Lost a majority decision to Emile Griffith, Scored wins over Peter Cobblah, Danny Perez, Miguel Fierro and future WBA/WBC light middleweight champion Oscar Albarado
-1972 Again lost a close decision to Emile Griffith. Scored wins over Sal Martinez, Manuel Gonzalez and Jose Luis Baltazar.
-1973 February was knocked out in the seventh by Jose Napoles in a return fight for the WBA and WBC titles. It was a severe knockout with Lopez out for approx. three minutes. Lopez returned in July but was floored by Armando Muniz and retired at the end of the seventh round.
-1974 Lopez was stopped by John H Stracey in seven rounds with Lopez cut over both eyes. Lopez retired after the Stracey fight.

Ernie Lopez was born on the Unitah and Ouray Indian Reservation in Fort Duchesne, Utah. His mother was a Ute Indian and his father was from another Indian tribe with Lopez being the third of their eight children. His father taught him to box and he started boxing at High School. He and his older brothers Leonard and Danny “ Little Red” Lopez moved to Californian and boxed for a YMCA team there. Brother Danny would go on to win the WBC featherweight title. The Indian Red nickname came from Lopez’s red hair and his Indian heritage. He was 21-1-1 in his first 23 fights but then suffered consecutive losses against Johnny Brooks and Adolph Pruitt.

He rebuilt with 10 wins in his next 11 fights losing only to Raul Soriano before overwhelming and stopping 22-0 Hedgemon Lewis July 1968. He beat Soriano in a return but then lost on points to Lewis in July 1969 but rebounded to stop Lewis again in October. That earned him a shot at the WBA and WBC welterweight titles. Unfortunately, the great Jose Napoles floored Lopez in the first, ninth and again in the fifteenth with the fight being stopped just twenty-two seconds left on the clock. He again rebounded by winning ten of his next twelve fights with the two losses coming against Emile Griffth the first in a majority decision and the second a unanimous decision but by the narrowest of margins. Two wins later that year landed him a return against Napoles in February 1973 in a fight that would change his life. Lopez was reportedly in front after six rounds with Napoles cut over and under an eye and cut on the bridge of his nose. In the seventh Napoles exploded with a devastating punch that sent Lopez down and he lay unconscious for three minutes. The loss crushed Lopez’s spirit and marital problems sent Lopez on a downward spiral. He fought twice more but lost both fights inside the distance. He then slowly drifted away from friends and family just turning up out of the blue now and then again before losing all contact with them for twelve years.

He wandering from city to city and State to State and eventually was classified as a missing person. When there was talk of Lopez being inducted into the Californian Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004 his ex-wife and his children decided to try to establish once and for all whether he was alive or dead. Eventually he was traced through his Social Security number to a Presbyterian Night Shelter in Texas. Lopez’s former promoter and President of the Californian Boxing Hall of Fame Don Fraser arranged for Lopez to fly to Los Angeles where he was reunited with his family including 23 of his grandchildren. Lopez was inducted into the Californian Boxing Hall of Fame and died on 3 October at the age of 64.