By Fiona Manning
Newly-installed IBF 130 pound boxing champion Carlos “Famous” Hernandez and his wife Veronica are searching for the perfect slogan for his next fight on May 31.
Hernandez, who is the first world champion (in any sport) to come from his tiny county of El Salvador has turned to the readers of La Prensa San Diego in an effort to come up with a catchy phrase.
The incentive? A copy of his new documentary which is currently airing on HBO Latino. The documentary: More Than Famous is in English, with Spanish subtitles, was cut to just under 60 minutes from a 70 minute edit. One lucky reader will be the recipient of the original video (see below for details).
Hernandez was originally slated to fight in San Salvador, El Salvador in an arena named after him but he had to change his plans when he could not find a worthy opponent willing to travel to “Hernandezland.”
He will now headline a Top Rank show at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim opponent to be announced. And now Hernandez needs a big punchline to match his jab.
“More Than Famous” wowed the Hollywood crowd which packed the Vine Fondue and Wine Bar on Vine Street for the “premiere” of the film. The bar is steps away from the Wild Card Gym and the hotter-than-hot new boxing locale, Jab City Gym in the heart of Old Hollywood last weel.
Guests walked past an extraordinary new mural paying homage to James Dean, the original Rebel Without A Cause, while Famous Hernandez - who could be considered a sort of Rebel Without A Pause - greeted guests who repeatedly drove by the unmarked venue.
“What are you doing standing on the street?” quipped trainer Manolo “Chato” Robles who received a lot of screen time in the segments where he prepped Famous for his title shot against Floyd Maywather Jr. “You’re a celebrity man. Get inside!”
The champ just laughed and urged everyone inside to sip Merlot and sample the house specialty of cheese fondue.
Inside, director Graham Rich entertained the crowd with stories of working with Mr. And Mrs. Famous who are now expecting a Baby Famous.
Rich knew nothing about boxing but was looking for a good subject when boxing matchmaker Paul Hernandez introduced him to Hernandez two years ago. Now Rich is as addicted to boxing as everybody else who becomes involved with the sport.
“It was hard editing the film like butchering my babies but I am pleased with the final result,” he said.
He respected the fighter’s dream to win a world championship for his country of El Salvador and was there when the country’s president, Francisco Flores was ringside for the history making event when Famous became world champion.
Actor JP Davis, who is researching a new role as a boxer in an upcoming movie “Fighting Tommy Reilly,” was also there.
“Frankly I don’t think I could ever really take a punch. I am a wuss really!” said Davis who said he seriously weighed the merits of taking a punch for real as opposed to faking it.
“I don’t have it in me and that’s a difficult thing to admit about yourself,” he said.
Famous is no wuss. Robles said he knew that Famous would become world champion and was the first to tell him after his decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr: “Tonight just wasn’t your time.”
Robles is dedicated to his co-trainer father Manuel Robles’ two hot prospects Israel Vasquez and Martin Castillo whom he both predicts to become world champions.
Sitting around on beanbags in a private room upstairs, Famous and his friends talked “shop” all night. Robles’ wife sipped champagne and grimaced.
“She hates it when [cutman] Chuck Bodak and I go out to dinner but I love him and I go pick him up even though he lives out in the boondocks and we go eat and now she stays at home because she knows that once you start talking about boxing you can talk about it all night.”
Hernandez, who won the IBF crown via a technical knockout over David Santos two months ago, was quietly calm as the documentary aired in the restaurant.
His close friend, Mauricio Cienfuegas, a superstar football player for LA’s Galaxy Team arrived to watch the show.
“He has the coolest name,” said Famous. “Cienfuegas means 100 fires.”
The two men carried the torch for the Central America Games in their native El Salvador in January and still feel inspired by the athletic and patriotic spectacle they feel lucky to have witnessed.
“More Than Famous” is more than a love story about boxing. It’s a love story between a fighter and his wife and a fighter and his country which has endured war and numerous natural disasters in the immediate wake of 9/11 on their national Independence Day.
Famous Hernandez watched the documentary unspool as the crowd quickly became swept up in his powerful and moving story.
Back in the gym preparing for his first fight since becoming world champion, the screening was a rare day off for the man who is being inundated with offers for fights.
“It doesn’t matter who I fight,” said Famous. “Whoever they put in there with me, I am still going to be the IBF world champion.”
If you would like to win the “More Than Famous” e-mail a possible slogan for Carlos “Famous” Hernandez’ next fight. For example, when he fought Mayweather, his campaign was “Whatever It Takes.”
E-mail suggestions to Bondigirl@aol.com. All entries will be judged by Mr And Mrs Famous Hernandez, and Graham Rich.