Bithdate: Aug. 10, 1949
Birthplace: San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico
Weight Class: Welterweight
Record: 31-4-3 (19 KOs)
Title Held: WBC Welterweight
Best Performances: John H. Stacey (KO 12), Armando Muniz (KO 15, W 15), Dave Green (KO 11), Ryu Sorimachi (KO 7), Everaldo Azevedo (W 15), Hedgemon Lewis (D 15), Wilfred Benitez (L 15)
Year of IBHOF Induction: 2004
Background: Moved from Mexico to Los Angeles at the age of 10 … Took up boxing after being drafted into US Army … “My goal was to get out of going to Viet Nam. I didn’t envision fighting as a pro” he told writer Tim Graham many years later … Became Army champion in 1971 and ’72 … Also won 1972 AAU 137-pound junior welterweight championship, defeating eventual Olympic gold medalist Ray Seales … Turned pro in September ’72 to bankroll his college education, winning a four-round decision over Javier Martinez at Los Angles’ Olympic Auditorium, a venue that hosted 25 of his 38 pro bouts … Went undefeated in his first 11 fights before dropping a 10-round decision to Andy Price in August ’74 … Held to a draw by Zovek Barajas in February ’75, but stopped Barajas in a rematch the following month … Also fought a 10-round draw with the highly regarded Hedgemon Lewis in November ’75 … Won the WBC welterweight title, as a 10-to-1 underdog, by beating John H. Stracey in June ’66 in London. Scored two knockdowns en route to stopping the Englishman in the 12th-round … Made seven successful defenses of the WBC belt, including two against local rival Armando Muniz. The first Muniz bout, one of 1977’s best fights. was even on the scorecards going into the 15th and final round. “I went out and just threw everything I had for 2½ minutes,” said Palomino. “Finally, he went down” … Lost title to undefeated Wilfred Benitez in Puerto Rico on Jan. 14, 1979, by a controversial split decision … This was followed by a 10-round decision loss to Roberto Duran at Madison Square Garden in New York in June ’79, after which Palomino retired … He had earned a degree in recreational administration from Long Beach State but turned to acting after he hung up his gloves … Was featured in Miller Lite’s “Tastes Great, Less Filling” TV commercials, working with the likes of Walt Frazier, Bubba Smith, Dick Butkus, Billy Martin, Boog Powell and Rodney Dangerfield. His signature line was “Don’t drink the water,” which some fans still yell out when they see him … Appeared in a number of movies, including Geronimo, Jungle Heat, Die Watching, Fists Of Steel, Rampage and Time Bomb … Also made guest appearances in TV series such as Taxi, White Shadow, Knight Rider, Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue … In 1997, 17½ years after the Duran fight, he retuned to the ring for five more bouts at the age of 47, winning the first four by knockout … Then, in a test to see exactly how much he had left, Top Rank matched him with welterweight contender Wilfredo Rivera, who won a 10-round decision and sent the ex-champ back into retirement.