The History of the Red Ribbon

No, not the DARE kind.

And disclaimer: the word “history” is being used loosely as I could only find one source, so consider yourself forewarned.

We’ve all seen it. A proud Mexican boxer strutting to the ring wearing a red ribbon with his last name emblazoned upon it tied aroud his forehead, popularized by Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. and carried on by JCC Jr. and, well, every other Mexican boxer currently fighting and their fans. (And I also saw them at the USA vs. Mexico soccer match earlier this year, although I was too busy trying to keep my husband out of jail to inquire as to why.)

According to Jose Sulaiman, this whole trend started before JCC Sr.’s fight against Edwin Rosario, which probably occurred at some point before my birth. (Editor’s note: No it didn’t. I was 7.) As legend has it, Rosario was alleged to have been utilizing black magic against Sr., and it was also reported that they had “his [Sr.’s] picture upside down in the refrigerator in an ice bucket.” Jose Sulaiman, Hook to the Liver.  Enter a friend of Hector “Macho” Camacho’s, who recommended that Sr. wear something red to the ring in order to ward off sorcery. Cue the red ribbon. And boom! Chavez won the fight and evil spirits the world over were befallen at least for that night. (I made up that last part. But it could have happened!)

I kind of feel like I owe you all an apology, folks, because I really wanted this to be better. I thought that FOR SURE the history would encompass years of red ribbon headband wearers fighting various battles. Surely the Mayans had something to do with this, right?! But all I got was Jose Sulaimain said a friend of Camacho’s hooked up Sr. and he won. Not a bad story, but not the best either.

So, in the spirit of creativity, I’ve comprised a list of additional reasons why Sr. might have started sporting that iconic red ribbon headband. An official list, if you will:

The Official Junk in the Trunks List of Reasons that Sr. Wears a Red Headband:

1. This is an easy one, guys (and girls, of course): maybe he likes the color red. I mean, if my job would allow it, I’d wear a different colored headband (but probably mostly pink) with a different last name on it every day AND I’d incorporate a roman numeral at the end, just for the fuck of it!

2. Red is the color of blood, and he’s a warrior, right? It just makes sense.

3. It’s one of the colors in Mexico’s flag, although I have to say this is the least likely of reasons to wear a red headband. Sr. is a national icon, he could DEFINITELY have a headband with all of the colors in the flag made for him. Shoot, he could wear a replica of the flag itself across his forehead if he wanted to. So this probably isn’t it.

4. “Rambo” wore one, and he was a badass. But this is kind of a “chicken and the egg” scenario. Which came first?! Technically, Wiki told me that “First Blood” was released in 1982 and Chavez fought Rosario in 1987. So really, he could have been mirroring the badassery that was Rambo. Or MAYBE Rambo is such a badass that he could see the future and knew in advance that Sr. would be the quintessential badass and decided to wear the red headband in an effort to be as great as Sr. Either explanation makes perfect sense, so pick your favorite and run with it.

5.  It matches his skin tone nicely. Not just anyone could pull that off and still look good, but Sr. did it. (And still does. Not that I have a thing for old guys, but that man is a hottie. Truth.)

And finally:

6. Maybe the top part of his head would fall off without it. Remember that urban legend about the girl who wore the ribbon around her neck? When it was removed, HER HEAD FELL OFF! What if that was the case with Sr. at the time and we just didn’t know about it? A cynic might point out that there were pictures of Sr. taken before the headband (and after) where it was missing and his head was intact, but there’s a perfectly reliable explanation for that: makeup. Lots of it. (Or a flesh toned headband.) And once he became big time, maybe he just super glued the top part of his head to the rest of his head! (Or had some kind of surgery. The possiblities abound!) And now that the top part of his forehead has been permanently affixed to the rest of his head, he just wears the red headband for nostalgic reasons.

It’s also possible that he still wears the headband to ward off evil spirits before Jr’s fights. But if that’s the case, it might be time to switch up the technique a little, as the luck is clearly wearing off. Except in Texas. You’ll always win here, Jr.! (Editor’s note: I know he won his last fight, but c’mon.)

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The site where I obtained the story about Sr. is: