PANAMA CITY – A “mistake” he made sent him to prison and after several years of purgatory Panamanian former world boxing champion Celestino “Pelenchin” Caballero, who passed like a meteor through the decade after 2000 in the super-bantamweight category, is making public his “truth” in a book titled “Mi ultimo round” (My last round) to reconnect with the taste of “victory” and “create awareness.”
The book is an autobiography in which the 43-year-old Caballero, who retired from the ring in 2014, reflects on what happened on March 10, 2016, at a police roadblock where he was stopped with 10 kilograms of cocaine, spending five years behind bars for the crime.
Caballero, who built up a record of 37 wins (24 by knockout) and 6 defeats, was released in May 2018 after a Panamanian court commuted his sentence, changing the remainder to community service.
“After what happened to me and my release ... I said it’s time to do the book,” Caballero told EFE in an interview, adding that in writing it he is seeking to “guide” public opinion and “raise awareness.”
The champ, born in the impoverished province of Colon on Panama’s Caribbean coast, writes about his life from the “beginning” and about “all” that he has “had to experience and live through” to get to this moment in his life, where he claims to feel “good and happy.”
“God forgave me. ... (God) knows my heart. I feel good and I’m happy. It’s human beings that treat each other badly, not God. I’m moving forward positively and here I’m in my new phase and I hope to have others,” the winner of the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation super bantamweight titles between 2006 and 2010 and the WBA regular featherweight title from 2011-2012 said.
Upon being questions why he titled the book as he did, Caballero didn’t hesitate: “It’s called ‘My last round’ because in boxing you have to fight with everything ... with strength, faith and a lot of intelligence.”
“The last round is the victory round. It’s the round in which you have to overcome your rival, it’s the one in which you have to shine, it’s the one that gives you the victory in life or in your career,” said the Panamanian pugilist.
He revealed that during the creative process for the book, published by the local LatinBeat Studios, the most painful part was discussing that moment when the authorities apprehended him with drugs.
“In this book I explain why I made that mistake. It’s painful to know that ... your country has turned its back on you. It’s sad, but OK in the book I write about how everything was. I hope that people can buy it and know the why of things,” he said.
Writing this book, which will be released at the 2019 Panama International Book Fair, which begins on Tuesday, “was more difficult” than boxing, he said, because “I did it having two feelings: joy and sadness.”
“Boxing always gave me joy, despite the defeats,” Pelenchin said, adding that that’s why he misses his time in the ring, calling it – without a doubt – one of the best parts of his life.
Caballero, who described himself as a “humble, simple, happy, always accommodating” man, promised that this “last round” will be similar to when he put on his gloves “to go out and win.”
The Panama International Book Fair is devoting this year’s edition to the 500th anniversary of the founding of Panama City and will feature writers from Spain, France, Portugal, Colombia, Mexico, the United States, Cuba, Guatemala, Peru, Argentina and Panama.