Oscar Bonavena - Ringo Superstar

By Carlos Irusta

OSCAR BONAVENA was shot to death in Reno, on May 22th, 1976. A bullet right in the chest. For unknown reasons, it was Joe Conforte, the boss of a Mustang Ranch brothel, who ordered Richard Brymer to execute the Argentinian heavyweoght. Some people said that Ringo was involved with Sally, Conforte’s wife. Oscar was 33. “I will die at the age of Jesus Christ”, said once. When he fought Gregorio Peralta for the Argentinean heavyweight belt they put a crowd of 25,000 people at Luna Park, an unbreakable record even today.

RAMON ORTEGA is called “Palito” (it means “Small Stick”) because he is too tiny and he used to play drums when he was 17.  Now in his sixties, fourty years ago he was the greatest rock and pop signing star of Argentina. He became a promoter, too. He signed a contract with Frank Sinatra. Ortega lost a lot of money, but the kept his word, paying until the last cent of the 2 million and a half dollars. “If you need me, call me”, said The Chairman of the Board. “I called him and Frank opened a lot of doors for me in States”, he remembers. By now, Sebastian, the son of “Palito” is a young and intelligent producer too. And he is working in an Oscar Bonavena movie, with the support of Dora Raffa, his widow.

OSCAR NATALIO BONAVENA born on September 25th, 1942, at Buenos Aires. He defeated George Chuvalo and fought twice with Joe Frazier (in the first, he floored Smoking Joe twice), and Muhammad Ali who defeated him by TKO in the 15th round, on December 7, 1970, in MSG. In February of 1976, Bonavena fought what would be his last fight against Billy Joiner in Reno. He was murdered a few months later by Ross Brymer, who served 15 months in prison for killing Bonavena after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

BONAVENA USED to drive his own  planes (without licence, of course) and a Mercedes, smoked cigars with solid gold Dupont lighters and, like Ali; he used to talk too much. “You chicken, why didn’t you go to the war?”, asked Oscar to Muhammad Ali. “Clay, you are Clay, Clay, Clay…”

Bonavena adopted Ringo, as he told, when some teenagers was confused, thinking he was Ringo Starr. “They saw me going out of a hotel at New York and yelled Ringo to me, so I decided to adopted it”. He was, its no necessary to tell this, an enormous big star in Argentina. He died at 33. He let some phrase like: “Experience is a brush you have when you have lots your hair”.

Now his life will be a movie. Ringo would have never had any doubt about it.

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