The return of the Golden Indian
As one of Paraguay’s all-time boxing greats re-enters the ring, Laurence Blair chronicles his extraordinary career — and his epic battle for redemption
With production, photography, and additional reporting by Santi Carneri.
Originally featured in the December 2017 issue of Delayed Gratification, the Slow Journalism Magazine.
Take the road from the centre of Asunción and you’ll follow the bend of the river as it curves out towards the outskirts of Paraguay’s capital. Drive past the crumbling belle-époque palaces of the old aristocracy and the ersatz-Bauhaus compounds of the newly rich. Skirt the canopy of blue canvas that rings the Mercado Cuatro and head past the bus terminal, where indigenous Ayoreo women sell woven bracelets and wood carvings.
As you reach the barrio of Ñemby you’ll notice how the lines of cement and breezeblock bungalows begin to thin out. Here, between a tyre-fitting shop and an ice-cream parlour, Darío Azuaga plies his trade as a locksmith. The walls of his workshop are sparsely decorated with pictures of Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and “Sugar” Ray Leonard. There’s also a poster of scrappy Filipino Geronimo “Gerry” Peñalosa facing down a Paraguayan boxer known as El Indio de Oro — the Golden Indian.
“I sometimes tell people El Indio de Oro is my brother,” says Darío, as he files a key in a clamp. Most of the pilgrims, who come from far and wide, don’t believe him: they know the Golden Indian when they see him. “They ask, why am I working? But there’s nothing else for it. I’ve got to work.”