Hello, my name is Olga Woods. I am the biological mother of Diego "Chico" Corrales. I am writing in response to the interview on FightHype.com where Diego's biological father, Mr. James A. Quawrells, had much to say about the son he never knew. I am here to set the record straight.
I would first like to say that it is with regret that I even have go through this. It has been devastating for me to read all of these lies of which I am going to put to rest once and for all. My son, Diego, never wanted this man to have any contact with him or his children and as you read on, you will understand why.
It is amazing to me that Mr. Quawrells would want to speak on behalf of a child he knew nothing about other than what he's read. I find it equally disgusting and shameful that he would do all of this lying on behalf of a dead son who is not here to speak for himself and that he would try to share in Chico's limelight, something we have not done.
I want Chico to rest in peace and he has got to be turning in his grave at this interview and seeing what it is doing to me. I am equally hurt and ashamed that I am even put in the position to tell this part of my life, but it is a necessary one to finally put this to rest so that I can continue to grieve for my child and once and for all let him rest. I need that for me and my family. There is not a day that goes by that I don't cry for my son. I don't grieve once a year and didn't cry for 6 hours upon hearing of his death. My life stopped on May 7th, 2007 and the sad part is not only did I lose my son, but your son, Esteban, and my son Daryl lost a brother and a mother. I am a mere shell of who I was. It is with much regret that I even have to tell my personal life with you to the boxing world.
The first thing I would like to address is the name Corrales and how it came about. I married a James Avery Quawrells; this is the birth name of Diego's biological father. I would like to say that I remember why he changed his name, but I don't. I do remember him asking how you would say James Quawrells in Spanish. I wasn't for sure on the Quawrells, but I told him Corrales and the first name would be Diego. He liked this fake name and decided that he would be called by this new name. We never went to any judge or court to change this name legally, but he just began telling everyone that Diego Corrales was his name. My marriage certificate shows his legal birth name and my divorce decree shows I divorced Mr. James Avery Quawrells and the alias Diego Corrales Sr.
I am responding to James' answers [in italics] to questions in bold.
PC: What do you think of the state of the game right now?
JQ: I think there is a lot of wannabes. There really isn't nobody that's special except for Manny Pacquiao. He's very special and he's like Chico was. When Chico was born, I knew he was a special kid. Manny is the same way. Manny has that same look in his eyes as Chico. He's not coming to ask you to let him win; he's coming to take his win. He outworks everybody and stays with it and that is what Chico did.
OW: Mr. Quawrells, wouldn't you agree that you would have had to know Chico before you can talk about how special he was and about the look in his eyes? James, there are many pictures on the internet; look closely into those eyes. If you saw anything in his eyes, you would know he had those school boy mischievous eyes. Even his mean look didn't intimidate anyone. He showed how bad he was in the ring with his hands. Because of his looks was the reason he wanted to prove how tough he was and he fought everyone that they put in front of him."
PC: The fight that the world wants to see is Pacquaio against Floyd Mayweather Jr. Mayweather gave your son his first loss as a pro. It sounds like you would lean towards Manny in that fight.
JQ: I like Manny in any fight that he's in. I know the Mayweather family and they talk a lot and they can't really back it up. Floyd Jr., however, is somewhat of a throwback to Ali. Ali would beat you before you even got in the ring with him. What he did is talked you out of your fight. Even if Ali knew you should beat him, he would talk so much that he would beat you before the hands got wrapped and before the gloves were put on. He just got inside of your head so far. The thing with Manny Pacquiao is that Floyd can't get there. Floyd don't really want to fight him, so he's doing what a Mayweather would do to get out of a fight. He doesn't want to fight him. Floyd Mayweather Jr. beat Chico, but he only beat Chico because they threw the towel in. If that fight would have gone another 2 rounds, Chico was going to knock him out.
OW: I hope you didn't mean that you know the Mayweather family personally, but Mr. Mayweather's record proves that he can back up all that talk. I'm left speechless as to your analogy of Ali and Floyd. I will say that as far as Chico and Floyd's fight, it was painfully obvious that Floyd was the better man that night. Give the man his due. Chico is my son and he was the best in the world to me, but I don't have blinders on because he is my son. Another 2 rounds would not have made a difference. Diego may not have ever fought again if it wasn't for Ray and his concern and his decision to throw in the towel. It was the right thing to do. Every boxer at one time or another loses fights; it doesn't take away who and what kind of fighter he was.
PC: Diego never really forgave his corner for that, did he?
JQ: No. That was his stepfather. That was the man that raised him and he did a good job as far as raising him. There is a part of me that regrets not being there and then there is a part of me where I'm very grateful that I made the decision that I made as far as Diego, his mother and his brother. I made the right decision. I gave them a chance. He couldn't have become champion with me being there. I loved him enough to let them have a life that I couldn't have given them. I was way too far into crime and getting high and my son deserved a chance and that's what I gave him.
OW: Yes, Chico was angry, but when he got a chance to see the fight, he talked to Ray and said he knew it was the right thing to do. But Chico was a warrior and still felt that it was his choice to keep fighting. If he would have had his way, he would have died in that ring that day. Thank God his Dad Ray thought enough for him that a cooler head prevailed. This man that you refer to is called Ray. He is and was the only Dad that your children ever knew and loved because of your chosen self-imposed exile from their lives. He has been their Dad since Diego was 3 years old and Esteban was a year and a half and he is the grandfather to the 7 grandchildren we have. I am appalled at the fact that you state that you made the right decision to leave. Let me refresh your memory. I left on my own accord after you beat me and threatened to kill me, or did that conveniently escape your memory? I took all I could take from you. You tricked me at 15 years old by telling me that you would take me away from my sheltered existence in Nebraska and show me the world, and I was foolish enough to believe you and I ran away from home with you, a grown man 9 years my senior. You do know what they call that, don't you? I took 5 years of your abusiveness towards me and my boys, or politically correct I should say "our boys". I refused to let you take my life and I vowed that my children would never be like you. Do you not remember how I met Ray? At 2 years old, you had Chico out there begging for your nasty habits. Remember how you would send him outside and beg for your cigarettes or steal them? Ray actually was the fellow that came to our apartment to tell me that Chico stole his cigarettes while he was shooting the shit with his friends. Do you remember you left me with the embarrassment to talk to this stranger about Chico's act and no sooner than I closed the door, you were so quick to praise this shameful act? I would like to thank you though, because you and your shameful acts put me in his sights and the beginning of a relationship, then marriage that has lasted 30 years.
Oh, and as for your life of crime, James, while married to me, the only crimes you committed was marrying a minor and teaching your son the art of theft. Oh, and let us not forget the many relationships outside the marriage that fostered the many children you have. Have they garnered this much attention as Chico has? I know Esteban hasn't. Could it be that he is not as famous and successful as Diego that he is not your favorite? Or could it be because he's alive and had much to say to you and none of what you wanted to hear?
Remember correctly, James, you were a horrible person to me, my mom and my sister. They seen you throw knives at me while they were visiting from Nebraska, remember that? Or maybe you can try to remember driving them to the bus station and being so angry that they were leaving that you went ballistic and scared us all half to death. Then you threatened to kill us and you refused to give them food and money to eat with on the 3 or 4 day trip back to Nebraska. Did you ever stop to think why they left? As a mother, I understand. My mom couldn't watch what you were doing to me. That's why she left. If you are going to talk about yourself and the kind of person you were, tell the truth, all of the ugly truth. I understand your embarrassment, I'm embarrassed to even tell it, but if you wanted to come out and tell a story you couldn't painfully tell and be brutally honest about it, then you shouldn't have said anything."
PC: Chico never made it a secret that he was a bad kid and a troublesome kid and he credited boxing for saving his life. Do you give boxing the same credit for saving Chico's life and for him not going down the path you went down
JQ: Yeah, I do. I watched him grow up from afar. I watched him and his brother grow up from afar. I had tapes of every fight that he ever had; from childhood amateur to his very last fight before he died. I knew that he was going to be something great. Even as a child, we would play box and he threw a right hand that hit me so hard that I got off of my knees and looked at him and said, "If you ever hit me that hard again " He wasn't a natural right hander. He was a southpaw. His mother made him a righty, but he was a natural southpaw. So was his mother. People always wondered how he could fight southpaws so well and win and it was because he was a southpaw, so he knew how to beat them.
OW: God help on this. You watched him from afar. I don't know whether to laugh or cry at your feeble attempt at faking what you thought the boxing world would believe. I don't think you know, James, but maybe you should have read up on the internet to get some cheat sheets to help you along with this one. Ray was the boxing director over the Sacramento Police Athletic League. He and I were there every day, 6 days a week. Did you know that I worked out with Chico and Esteban and Maze? And at our amateur boxing shows that we had, I worked the door and sometimes the concession stand. I think I would have recognized you if I saw you and I never saw you at the gym. Ray got to the gym after work at 3:30 and I showed up after work at 5:30. When were you there? Why didn't you talk to the boys? They wanted to know you as only you could tell them. Why did you have to see them from afar? We never kept them from you. As much as I wanted to hate you, I could not for you gave me these beautiful children and to hate you would mean I hated them. You, however, have taken every opportunity to bash me to Esteban, but everything you thought about me was wrong and everything you told your family was wrong and Esteban had to tell you that you were wrong. I never spoke ill of you or your family. I never told them why we divorced until they were teenagers and we never allowed them to disrespect you.
How is it that you knew Chico was going to be great? You hadn't seen him since he was 3 years old. Chico knew nothing about boxing; he was still baby-talking when I left you. Chico's first time playing boxing, playing football, playing hurdles, playing war, and playing basketball was with Ray. Do you remember your favorite past time? It wasn't playing with the kids. It was called Miller Life. For your information, James, once again I think you need to view the many pictures of Chico out there. First, I am not a leftie, or as you put it, a southpaw. Chico has never been a southpaw ever in his life. He knew how to fight southpaws because he sparred one and got spanked and Ray decided that in order for him to reach the national level, he needed to know how to fight them and that's how he learned and he mastered that skill of fighting southpaws. You consistently want to take away credit for what Ray has done. It angers me, but also embarrasses me that at almost 60, you insult the boxing community's intelligence by telling these lies and thinking that they cannot distinguish your lies from the truth.
PC: Chico was my all time favorites because no matter what, he came to fight and put on a show. He had a great fighter's mentality. How do you remember him as a fighter? If someone asked you to describe your son the fighter, how would you describe him?
JQ: He never came to ask you to give him the title. He came knowing he was leaving with his title. He believed in himself when nobody else would. He believed he could do what nobody thought he could do. He believed if you knocked me on the canvas, I'm going to get up and knock you out. He never stopped fighting. He fought from the beginning to the end and that was it.
OW: It pains me to have to answer this James. How dare you say no one believed in him. We believed in him so much that all of our excess monies, which wasn't much, went to him and his weekly trips to the many smokers in California, Oregon, Arizona and Colorado. We believed so much in the boys that our time and money was spent on them at the Police Athletic League. I believed so much in my son that when he got into an argument with some boys at the gym, I remember telling him, "One day, your name will be in lights and you will have the last word without ever saying anything." I have the picture that he sent me the very first time his name was in lights and he was so proud to have seen it there. Did you know that first time was at the Orleans Hotel? A father who watched from afar would know this. "
PC: His first fight with Castillo was the best fight that I have ever watched live. I'm only 20 years old, so I have had the pleasure to go back and watch some classics, but live, that was the best hands down. Was it tough to watch your son in greuling fights like that?
JQ: I got put out of one of his fights. I got put out because I wanted to shoot the guy for hitting him. I made a promise to him that I would never go see him fight again, but I would watch him fight on TV and I would always get tapes of his fights. Watching him fight was like watching the greatest ballerina dance Swan Lake. It was like listening to Mozart; a Summer Night. He was a virtuoso and everything he did, he done it so gracefully. I wasn't the best father and I wasn't the best husband to his mother. I was abusive. I know that my son needed a chance.
OW: James, we went to all of Chico's fights. Did you know that? Why didn't you ever approach them and talk to them? I know you can't use the excuse because of Ray because he was in the dressing room with Chico. Why didn't you approach Esteban? He is your son too. Why, if you had all these opportunities, did you not cease them? But here on this interview, you give the impression that everything you did, you did for them. If that's so, why didn't you give them what they needed most from you? To know about you as only you can tell it. I don't believe you have ever been at any of his fights, let alone get escorted out of one of his fights. It sounds to me like you were watching the fight with, I think, Gainer, when Chico's brothers Esteban and Maze were being escorted out of the fights. If you so wanted to shoot the guy that hit Chico, it seems to me that if you had been at his many amateur fights, as you stated, that you would have had that feeling long before his professional career. Don't you think?
It is a non issue as to what kind of father and husband you were; divorce speaks for itself. Thank God that another man, Ray Woods, chose to step up to the plate you ran from and now you want to step back in those shoes you tossed out with the trash 30 years ago. Shame on you!
PC: Do you think a lot of your behavior was due to the fact that you weren't mature enough yet and that you weren't ready for a family?
DC: Yeah! Part of that in fact, a great deal of that was because I wasn't mature. I wanted to run with the gangstas. I didn't want to be stuck at home with a family. I didn't want that responsibility. I would never say I was right in what I did, because I wasn't. I was wrong. And there is nothing that my son got or accomplished that I want. I don't want anything. He did it period. Am I proud of him? Oh yeah I am. I am very proud of him. Will he always be my son? Yeah, he will be; I made him. I watched him grow up part of his life. I watched him grow up his whole life.
OW: If you weren't mature at 27 years old, which is how old you were when I gave birth to Chico, when did you become mature? When he became Champion? I will agree you didn't want the responsibility, but let's be honest, you didn't want the responsibility of anything, not even to hold a job. Do you remember being in the military in Tacoma and me being pregnant with Esteban at the tender age of 19? Doesn't that put you at 29 years of age that April, 4 months after Esteban's birth? If you didn't want the responsibility, why did you continue to make babies before Esteban, during Esteban and after Esteban? Did you stop to think or care about me with the responsibility of 2 children, 17 months apart, at 19 years of age with that kind of responsibility? I had no viable skills to even go out and provide for my family. You so not wanted anything to do with family, but yet and still, another contradiction, you watched them grow up from afar.
Here again you don't want anything from Chico; you want what you couldn't get when he was alive and that was the acknowledgment of who you are. Ray got that. Now Chico is gone and he is not here to tell you that himself. But his brother, your other biological child, is here and he is going to tell, just as I am telling you, what Chico thought of you. Read and watch the many interviews by Chico. "Ray is not my stepfather, HE IS MY DAD!" Please respect Chico's wishes and refer to him as his Dad, not "that man".
You have no right to call him son; you made a mere donation. It takes a man to get that distinct honor of being called a dad from a son, whether biological or not.
PC: We obviously lost him too early. Can you remember what it was like for you when you received the news of his death and what was your relatioinship like when he died? Had you spoken to him at all?
DC: When I heard he died, I cried for 6 hours. I would send him telegrams to his fights and I would tell him, "Go out and knock this punk out! Go out there and knock this punk out and show the world you are the one and only champion. You own the division." It was hard for me to face his fans in Nebraska. I didn't want to come out. I came out. I would go to a place that I liked that was comfortable for me and I would always have someone come over and ask me was I related to him. So many people loved him and he belonged to the entire world. I miss him. There will never be another Diego "Chico" Corrales!
OW: I cannot imagine how sad it must be to only grieve your child that you have seen from afar his whole life and only muster up 6 hours of tears. Telegrams? I thought you were at his fights. Why send him a telegram if you were there? Chico's pre-fight talks were about his game plan, it wasn't taking time to read these so-called telegrams that you sent, but once again, why send telegrams to him if you were there? Why was it difficult to face his fans? Were you out there touting who you were for your share of the 5 minutes of fame? Did they ask, like everyone else, why aren't you in his corner and why do they call Ray his dad? Did it feel just a little uncomfortable? To this day, there are many people that are shocked of who I am because unless you know me, I don't tell them I am Chico's mom. Chico worked hard for all the fame he got and it's not our place to step in and share his fame. That is his and his alone. You can't possibly miss someone you never took the time to meet.
Where boxing is concerned, every generation, there is going to be a Diego "Chico" Corrales in the sense that great fighters come along every generation. There will be another that will remind people of Chico. There will be boxers who will try to emulate his grit, his style and his warrior heart.
Now, Chico is my son, there will never be another because he is the original. But he sure left me with many little clones that ensure that Chico, the son, not the boxer, will never be forgotten.
PC: How did you get the news of his passing?
DC: I got a phone call and they said, "Are you sitting down?" I said, "Yeah!" And they said, "You gotta turn it on ESPN; turn on the news." And I'm like, "Why?" They said, "Chico is dead." I'm like, "What?" They go, "Chico was killed." And I said, "I'm going to cover Las Vegas with blood. Who killed him?" They said, "No, he was in an accident." I put it on ESPN and they said that he had an accident. I tried to find it online and I couldn't. I had to wait for my ex-wife to come home. She came home and she pulled it all up online for me and I cannot believe how mangled the bike was. It was a fight he couldn't come back from. He couldn't win. It still hurts and I cry every year (beginning to cry). And when I think about it too much, I cry. My current wife always asks me, "He was your favorite, wasn't he?" I would always have to answer her, "All of my children are special to me." She said, "But you talk about him more than you do the rest." I said, "No parent should have a favorite, but he was mine." My son, who was just born, has a lot of Chico's characteristics I see in him. It's like I have a second chance.
I must say, as Chico's mom, and one that has spent the last almost 3 years crying each and every day the Good Lord sends, I'm shocked that all you can muster up are tears once a year. There isn't a day that goes by that we don't talk about Chico or cry. I have yet to see his fight that will go down in history. I cannot watch his fights on TV. I have 43 photo albums of Chico chronicling his career from beginning to end and I can't look at those photos either. Chico was my first born and I, as his mother, had all my first experiences as a mom with him. I loved Chico and he truly was a mama's boy, even to the end, but I can't say he was my favorite. I was indeed proud of him and what he managed to do for himself in his short 29 years, but children are different individuals and special in their own way and because of their differences, I loved them all differently.
How could you be so thoughtless to say such a thing when you had to have known his brother, your other son, would read this. Did you not care of his feelings because he is not a six-figure child? Or is it because he came to my defense when you tried to lie to him about the history?
You can't blow smoke up his ass and think that he doesn't know the difference. He is a bright young man, equally worthy of your pride in him. He aspires to do great things in the near future and I am proud of where he is, despite all his youthful blunders. He has turned out to be quite a man, a very articulate, outspoken young man. I guess you could say my clone; maybe that's what you don't like about him.
James, I would like to congratulate you and your wife on the birth of your child. I sincerely hope you can be the kind of father Ray was to Chico and Esteban. You obviously have a 2nd chance at raising your own child, but it's not Chico. Good Luck to you and wishing you many happy, fun times with this child, just as we had with our children, Chico, Esteban and Daryl.
PC: Chico has all of your characteristics?
DC: Yeah! We do have a lot of the same characteristics. Believe it or not, most of his life, because he was fare and I was dark complexion, no one thought he looked like me. They would say, "He don't look like you; he looks like his mother." And I thought about it; we live in a racist world. That's why they say he looks like his mother because he's fare like her. I have a son now who again is very fare and I have only had one person say that he looks like me. He has his mother's nose, her chin and her ears, but he has my features. Me and Chico have the same temperament. It's exactly the same. I never ask for anyone to give me anything. If I want it, I will go and get it. I will get what's mine and that was something that he believed. He will get what's his.
OW: I am so flattered that you think Chico looks like me at all, considering that the only trait he got from me was my complexion. Correction, Chico looks like you, but the mannerisms and happy-go-lucky Chico was a learned trait from Ray. You would be happy to know that they had a beautiful childhood with many memories that we still talk and laugh about today.Temperament yours? No! Of course, you never asked for anyone to give you anything because you were too busy taking it. Remember the accident that almost killed my baby and injured me, and the check we received from the insurance company that was made out to me? You took all $1,700 of it and spent it on a down payment for your brand spanking new car, the Olds, remember? And it got repossessed because you refused to pay for it. I asked you to buy a car with cash and put the rest in the bank. Once again, it was all about you. You wined and dined many in the car that injured me and Chico and as a result, the only thing Chico got out of the car was a sibling, and me, well, a bunch of heartache blatantly shoved in my face. Chico was nothing like you.
PC: I want to thank you again for your time. It was a pleasure speaking to you and I truly hope this brought some closure for you and helped you get some things off your chest. Feel free to call me anytime. Is there anything you want to say to close out this interview?
DC: I made the right decision because I knew that a criminal lifestyle was not going to give him, his brother and his mother a chance at life. I'm very proud of everything he accomplished. Yes, I stole him from her and yes, my granddad made me give them back. And my granddad was the one that said, "You can't have a family with the lifestyle you choosing." I watched them drive away and I cried because I knew he was right. Like I said, I always watched him from afar and I watched how good he was and how good he became. Everything that I had on him got destroyed, but it can't be taken from my heart ever in life. I am finally at peace in my life and finally in a good place in life and I do have a second chance with my newborn son. I want to thank you Percy for helping me to realize that I made the right decision to give my sons a chance at life.
OW: What is your criminal lifestyle James? Being a womanizer, a cheat, an abuser? Without Ray, I wouldn't have had a chance at life. You left me here homeless with no family in Sacramento.
You stole my children from me when I left and I let you see them and spend time with them. And I even let them spend the night and you left with them. Thank God for your Aunt Bernice, not your grandfather. After calling her looking for you, she told me she would call if and when you showed up. Her exact words when she called me was, "He is here. Come right now to pick these babies up. He has no business with these kids!"
I don't know if you cried as we drove away, but I have a clear picture of you cowered in a corner holding my kids and telling me that you would kill them before you let me have them. Your Aunt talked to you and took the kids from you.
If you have nothing better to say than he was a good boy, maybe you shouldn't say anything. Chico was a mischievous, bad little boy! Don't you dare try to make him into something he wasn't! You would know that if you watched him from afar.
Everything you had on the boys was destroyed? James, when I left and got the boys, I asked for my pictures of the kids. Do you remember you had threw them in the trash and burned them? This malicious act of yours took away the many baby pics of Chico that I could have had today and the many pictures Esteban would have had with his brother; him sitting behind Chico on his little bike, them playing together smiling and hugging each other. You and I know these things happened because we were there and old enough to remember. Esteban wasn't. Can you imagine what it would have meant to him to have these baby pictures knowing what we know now?
I think nothing can be taken from your heart that was never there. Your actions have shown that.
In parting, I would like to say that Ray C. Woods was an awesome dad! I have many good memories of him playing football in our home with the boys and hoisting the boys up in the air and crashing down on our many beds that we had to replace. I remember the many arguments they got into when they were playing war and who got shot first and who was cheating or not. I often referred to Ray as my other kid because he truly enjoyed being a kid with the boys. They argued, joked, and learned about all the nasty little things that boys like to talk about. I could not have asked for a better dad for my children and a better husband.
Thank you Ray for being my rock when I needed it, for being my best friend and for being the upstanding dad that you chose to be, and mostly for giving Chico the ability to be the boxer that you instilled in him to be. You did a great job with the boys and they have much love and respect for you. To the Johnson's and Woods', thanks for never making a difference between the boys, biological or not.