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Fine journalism from former Tribune sports editor Dan McGrath. Compelling column in the NY Times Midwest edition. (NYT is lucky to have him at the Chicago News Coop!) http://bit.ly/4AtINQ

Compassionate coverage of Paco’s funeral service:







Service:  Monday November 30, 2009 from 3 – 8 p.m.
Woodlawn Funeral Home- 7750 W Cermak Rd., Forest Park IL 60130

Mass:  Tuesday December 1, 2009 at 10 a.m.
Our Lady of Grace Church- 2446 N. Ridgeway, Chicago IL 60647

Immediately following Mass, procession to:
Woodlawn Cemetery- 7750 W Cermak Rd., Forest Park IL 60130

For Immediate Release

Fallen Boxer Francisco Rodriguez Gives Gift of Life
Donates Kidney to His Own Uncle and Saves At Least Seven Additional Lives
Rodriguez Family Fund Accepting Donations at Any Chase Bank Location

November 24, 2009 (Chicago, IL)- The family of fallen Chicago boxer Francisco “Paco” Rodriquez have announced that through organ donation, Paco’s tragic death will save the lives of at least eight people, including his own uncle.

“We just learned that Paco and our uncle are a match,” said Alex Rodriguez, Paco’s brother.

“Our uncle has been on the waiting list for a kidney transplant for a long, long time,” Alex continued. “So although we’ve tragically lost Paco, we’re able to give this incredible gift of life to another family member.”

“My family is desperately grieving the loss of Paco, but there is some comfort knowing that he will save at least eight lives and benefit so many families.”

After Paco’s death, Alex and other family members discussed their options with a representative from the “Gift of Life” donor program. The family agreed on the decision to donate.

“My brother was so strong and healthy. His heart and lungs were in perfect condition. It would have been a terrible waste not to share his life with others. How could we not help another family?”

“My daughter was born with just one kidney and thank God she’s beautiful and healthy,” Alex continued. “But, God forbid, she ever needs a transplant. I’m absolutely sure that Paco, in a heartbeat, would have offered her his kidney.”

“My brother was and always will be the‘People’s Champ.’ Now he’s a hero too.”

Twenty-five year-old Francisco “Paco” Rodriguez died this past Sunday night at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia after succumbing to a brain injury suffered during a bout fought two nights earlier. He is survived by his wife, their five-month-old baby girl, parents, two brothers, in-laws and an extended family of loved ones.

An account has been established to help ease the family’s medical expenses. Donations can be made at any Chase Bank location in America. You may deposit directly to the Francisco Rodriguez Estate fund account #707331062.

Information regarding visitation and funeral services will be forthcoming.

News Clips- click on “News” tab above for more

11/26- From Philly’s Bernard Fernandez, former President of the Boxing Writers Assoc. of America. http://bit.ly/PhilBFern

11/25- From ESPN’s Melissa Isaacson. A must read. Beautiful moving tribute. http://shar.es/aKJMT

11/24- Video from Fox Chicago’s Corey McPherrin http://bit.ly/FoxCMcP

11/23- From Jose Luis Sanchez at Hoy- Muere el peleador local Francisco Rodríguez http://www.vivelohoy.com/deportes/vvl2-depboxlocal45nov23,0,7245999.story

11/23- Bernard Fernandez, former President of the Boxing Writers Association of America, who was ringside in Philly for the bout. http://www.philly.com/philly/news/homepage/20091123_Requiem_for_a_super_bantamweight__Francisco_Rodriguez_dies_after_fight_at_Blue_Horizon.html

Release- November 23, 12:01 am

Popular Chicago Boxer Francisco Rodriguez Dies From Brian Injury Suffered During a Bout Fought Friday Night In Philadelphia

(November 23, 2009)- Francisco “Paco” Rodriguez, one of Chicago’s most popular boxers, died Sunday night at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia after succumbing to a brain injury suffered during a bout fought Friday night. As he bravely fought his last battle, the twenty-five year-old father of a five-month-old girl was surrounded by loved ones including his wife, parents and brothers.

In Friday evening’s main event, Rodriguez (14-3-1, 8 KOs) faced Philadelphia native Teon Kennedy (14-0-1, 6 KOs) for the USBA super bantamweight title from the legendary boxing house, the Blue Horizon. After nearly being stopped in the first round, Paco came out strong in the second, attacking Kennedy to the body. The fighters continued to engage in a back-and-forth battle that had the knowledgeable Philly fight fans on their feet.

During the 10th round, after an offensive blitz from Kennedy, referee Benjy Esteves Jr. stepped in and stopped the bout. Kennedy won by TKO and had been ahead in a competitive fight by scores of 87-83, 86-83 and 86-84.

Upon returning to his corner, Paco said he felt “sleepy” and was immediately rushed to Hahnemann University Hospital where he underwent surgery to stop a brain bleed and swelling. He remained in a coma until he passed.

A decorated amateur champion, Paco was a five-time Chicago Golden Gloves Champion, a 2000 National Golden Gloves bronze medalist and, in 2001, at the age of just 17, a National Golden Gloves Champion.

In 2004, Paco defeated (the same) Teon Kennedy at the Eastern Trials by a score of 24-19 to earn his berth as one of eight American flyweights (112 pounds) competing in the US Olympic Trials.

He turned professional in January of 2005 and quickly became a Chicago fight fan favorite. Nicknamed “El Niño Azteca,” Paco was known for his exciting style, mixing superior boxing skills with a “Mexican warrior” attitude and an unforgettable ring walk.

The Rodriguez family is loved and respected by Chicago’s tight knit boxing community. Evaristo Rodriguez Senior, father to three sons, is a native of Guadalajara who boxed professionally in both Mexico and the US. His middle son, Evaristo Junior, was a 1999 National Golden Gloves Champion who won numerous Chicago Golden Gloves titles. Many local fans fondly remember Junior’s Chicago tournament bouts as legendary.

Paco was Evaristo’s youngest son. Trained by his father and Junior, Alex, the oldest brother, was Paco’s manager. As was the case during every bout of Paco’s life, Evaristo Senior and Junior were working Paco’s corner.

Paco was a devoted husband, father, brother and son. A fund is being arranged to assist his family with their medical and funeral expenses. Remaining funds will be put in trust for his daughter.

Details regarding the Francisco Rodriguez Fund as well as wake and funeral services will be announced as soon as possible. In the mean time, the family is preparing to bring Paco home to Chicago.