Brother's Keeper

Phoenix boxing great Michael Carbajal says his big brother and manager, Danny, stole every penny he had

Michael Carbajal faced a crowd of about 3,000 on a chilly afternoon in the village of Canastota, New York. It was June 2006, and Arizona's best-ever pugilist was about to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Never much of a talker, Michael spent most of his short speech paying tribute to his oldest brother, Danny — his manager in and out of the ring and his mentor for as long as he could remember.

"Danny showed me everything I know," Michael said, as reported by Arizona Republic boxing writer Norm Frauenheim. "He'd be there every morning at 5 a.m. He didn't run with me. He was on a bike or in the Jeep. But he was there."

Michael Carbajal on the shoulders of his brothers Danny (left) and Angel (right)
Stephen Dunn/Getty images
Michael Carbajal on the shoulders of his brothers Danny (left) and Angel (right)
Boxing champion Michael Carbajal in 2006.
Al Bello/Getty Images
Boxing champion Michael Carbajal in 2006.
Michael Carbajal peeks over at brother Danny during a 2006 press conference in New York.
Holly Stein/Getty images
Michael Carbajal peeks over at brother Danny during a 2006 press conference in New York.
Danny Carbajal was his brother's manager — in and out of the ring.
Stephen Dunn/Getty images
Danny Carbajal was his brother's manager — in and out of the ring.
Michael Carbajal became a boxing superstar in the  years after the 1988 Olympic Games.
Michael Carbajal became a boxing superstar in the years after the 1988 Olympic Games.
Danny Carbajal, circa 1997, inside the old family gym, at 910 East Fillmore Street.
Timothy Archibald
Danny Carbajal, circa 1997, inside the old family gym, at 910 East Fillmore Street.
Michael Carbajal claims that he is broke.
Timothy Archibald
Michael Carbajal claims that he is broke.
Michael Carbajal was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.
Michael Carbajal was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.

He then spoke directly to his brother, who was seated in the audience wearing the dark glasses he often favors in public.

"You know what, Danny?" Michael said, his voice rising. "Now we're here, at the Hall of Fame! We made it!"


That tender scene seems so far away now.

So do the signposts of Michael's illustrious career, which ended in 1999 after more than a decade in the international spotlight. During that time, the brave little warrior from a downtown Phoenix barrio battled his way into the hearts of millions of fans by dint of his hardscrabble upbringing, a lion's determination, and a proud, but uniquely humble, nature.

The landmarks included the 1988 Olympic silver medal (he really was robbed of the gold), the first world title win in July 1990 over a tough Thai before an adoring throng at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the epic 1993 knockout in Las Vegas over archrival Humberto "Chiquita" Gonzalez, and, finally, the dignified manner in which he retired in July 1999, after knocking out a younger and stronger Mexican fighter in a Tijuana bullring.

These are among the most difficult days of 41-year-old Michael Carbajal's life, about as rough on him as when his beloved dad, Manny, died in 1993, or when his little brother Angel was murdered outside a Phoenix bar in 2000.

Michael has been staggered by a blow more punishing than any punch he took in 53 professional fights. It was delivered by the most unlikely person he could have imagined — his brother Danny.

Michael, who earned more than $7 million in the ring, says he is broke.

And he has become convinced that Danny, whom he once trusted more than anyone else in the world, except maybe his mother, has robbed him blind.

On October 26, Michael filed a blockbuster lawsuit in Maricopa County Superior Court alleging just that.

"It's just mind-boggling what has happened here," says Alan Susman, Michael's attorney. "Michael has lost just about everything. He has no money that we know of."

The whole thing seems like an episode of The Sopranos, short of the moral code about stealing from your own family.

Michael filed his suit against Danny Carbajal and Danny's daughters, Josephine and Celia Carbajal.

The suit says the trio "engaged in an intentional and malicious course of conduct to convert Michael Carbajal's assets for their own benefit. All of [their] actions were done without Michael's knowledge or consent."

The suit also alleges that "Danny Carbajal committed forgery by removing money from bank accounts at BankOne/Chase Bank, withdrawing funds from Michael's IRAs and purchasing property with Michael's money and by titling the property in [Danny's] name."

Though Michael hasn't alleged a specific dollar amount that Danny allegedly has stolen, the pleadings suggest it is in the millions of dollars.

Michael Carbajal declined to speak with New Times for this article, saying he wants to wait until Danny's November 30 sentencing on felony theft and fraud convictions. The victim in that case was Danny's late ex-wife, Sally.

When Michael does step inside the courtroom to address the judge at Danny's sentencing, those closest to him say it will be as stressful and painful as anything he's ever done.

Much of the money Danny stole from Sally came from fraudulent transfers into his name of community properties he'd jointly "owned" with her. The properties are a focus of Michael's lawsuit against his brother and nieces, and he is asking the court to order the eight parcels signed over to him, as the real and rightful owner.

Danny admitted in a November 2004 deposition, during his divorce from Sally, that those properties and financial accounts actually had been funded with Michael's money, and so he shouldn't have to owe her half of the assets.

"It was Michael's money that bought the properties?" Sally's divorce lawyer asked Danny at the time.

"Yes," Danny replied, adding that the only property he and Sally had purchased with their own money (years earlier) was their previous residence at 914 East Fillmore.

Among many allegations, Michael claims in his lawsuit that he never signed a $30,000 check to Henry Florence, one of Danny's attorneys in the pending criminal case.

Dated September 22, 2005, the check (which is attached to the lawsuit as an exhibit), listed both Michael and Danny's names in the upper-left corner, along with Danny's home address. It was signed by "M. Carbajal," and its writer noted on the memo line that a $20,000 balance remained on the legal fees.

Michael Carbajal's suit claims that his signature on the check is a forgery.

Other records show that on the day before Florence collected his firm's legal retainer, Michael's signature appeared on a document issued by LPL Financial Services, a brokerage firm with offices in Phoenix. The signature afforded Danny "full trading authorization with privilege to withdraw money" from one of Michael's retirement accounts, an account that his attorney says has been depleted.

Again, Michael's lawsuit alleges that he never signed the document.

Attorney Susman won't be able to gather all the myriad financial records in this case for some time, so it isn't known yet if Danny siphoned the $30,000 retainer from Michael's LPL account for his legal fees.

But the sequence of events raises the question of how Michael Carbajal would have been able to pay a law firm to represent his brother when, just nine months later, in June 2006, he claimed to be indigent after his own grand jury indictment on a charge of beating up a former pal.

At the time, a county judge appointed two assistant public defenders to represent the one-time millionaire free of charge. A jury, by the way, later acquitted Michael.

One of the eight counts in Michael's lawsuit reveals the deeply personal side of this unfortunate and unexpected situation. It claims the three defendants have caused "Michael Carbajal to become impoverished, and caused him to involuntarily not be able to use or have access to his property. Destroying the family relationship was extreme, and . . . any reasonable member of the community would regard their conduct as evil and beyond all possible decency."

The previously unreported revelations are an appalling turn for an Arizona native who is universally considered one of the greatest athletes to come out of this state, in any sport.

A concurrent New Times analysis confirms that Danny Carbajal, his daughters, and others have worked as an intrafamilial crime syndicate for years.

One of their victims was Sally Carbajal.

Remarkably, the other victim has been Michael, the guy who spilled blood, sweat, and tears in the ring to unknowingly fund the scheme.

If he'd had the chance, Sally's divorce attorney surely would have proved that Danny had submitted forged quit-claim deeds to the County Recorder's Office to steal properties he'd officially owned with her, and had committed other crimes. (A quit-claim deed is a legal document that helps someone transfer property to another person.)

But Sally Carbajal never did have her day in court.

She was murdered in February 2005, just three days before going to trial against Danny.

Sally and her boyfriend, Gerry Best, were gunned down in the parking lot of a Phoenix apartment complex ("Family Secrets," June 23, 2005), in what police suspect was not a robbery gone bad but, more likely, an execution.

Detectives found papers related to Sally's divorce case strewn about the parking lot, where she died instantly after being shot in the back of the head at close range.

Danny Carbajal remains the chief suspect in Sally's unsolved murder.

An affidavit from a Phoenix homicide detective after the double murders said, "Sally has advised numerous persons that she is in fear of her life should Danny or either of her daughters locate her whereabouts."

Those people included her Phoenix divorce attorney, Ken Winsberg, who told New Times about speaking with Sally on the day before she died: "She told me, 'Danny will never let me get the money that's coming to me.' She was genuinely scared of getting murdered by him."

Danny Carbajal declined through his attorney, Sherry Bell, to comment for this story. He told New Times in 2005 that he had nothing to do with Sally's murder.

Because Sally was murdered before her divorce trial, Danny was allowed to maintain ownership of all the properties and money in the couple's retirement accounts, assets estimated at the time to be valued in the upper-six-figure range.

Those properties and retirement accounts are a main issue in Michael's civil suit.

New Times informed attorney Bell on the morning of October 29 about the lawsuit, which, she said, she hadn't heard about. She declined to comment specifically on the new allegations other than to say, "This entire case is so, so sad. A whole family is breaking apart."


Michael and Danny Carbajal haven't spoken in months and, according to people familiar with the situation, the strains inside the once-unified clan are palpable.

Regarding the tensions, a report filed by Phoenix police officer Timothy Redd on October 3 says he'd contacted a member of the Carbajal family "in reference to report [of] threats. [The man] stated after consideration he didn't want to make a report for he is afraid of . . . Danny Carbajal. [He] stated, 'You have no idea what he is capable of doing,' and, 'It's fucked-up what he did to Michael since Mike was the one taking all the punches.'"

The family member also told the officer that "he does not want to get involved and have to take sides in the family."

But it shouldn't have to come down to taking sides. That historically penny-wise Michael Carbajal apparently is tapped out should be enough for anyone to ask the obvious questions: How and why?

Former Carbajal family attorney and financial advisor Ben Miranda, a state legislator representing District 16, told New Timesin 1997 that Michael had invested his millions wisely and that his family's financial stability would be stable for decades ("A Long Day's Journey," April 10, 1997). Miranda did not return a call to his law office seeking comment for this story.

But now, a decade later, everything's gone, including his once-flush bank and retirement accounts, says Alan Susman, Michael's attorney.

"My client's assets, which were millions of dollars at one time, have been raided and stolen by [Danny] Carbajal and the daughters," he says. "That's why we're suing them."

If it weren't for the continued financial and emotional support of Michael's girlfriend, Laura Hall, it would be impossible to say where the champ would be living or how he would support himself, Susman says.

Another person who has stepped up for Michael is Ruben Castillo, a former world-class boxer from Bakersfield, California, and longtime friend of the Carbajals.

"Michael's my little brother, man," he says, practically shouting into the telephone. "If you haven't been in the ring as a fighter, there's no way to explain what someone has to go through to become a true champion like he did. He's the one who took all of those punches, felt all that pain, and he did it for his family and for Danny, not just for himself. What Danny has done is one of the worst things I've ever come across in boxing, and that's saying a hell of a lot."

Continuing on about Danny, Castillo says, "There [Danny] was in Michael's corner, rubbing Vaseline on his face to protect him from getting hurt. Meanwhile, that bastard's other hand was in Michael's pocket, ripping him off like some street punk. And from what I hear, he stole all of his mom's money, too."

Castillo is referring to Mary Carbajal, a widow in her mid-70s and the mother of nine. Records analyzed by New Times indicate that Mary also has lost the bulk (if not all) of more than $1 million formerly held for her in a Merrill Lynch retirement fund.

Michael has told his attorney and others that he'd asked Danny to ensure their parents' financial futures soon after he started making serious money in the ring.

But the records show that Danny, the only person other than Mary allowed to withdraw funds from her retirement account, drained more than $1 million from it over an as-yet-unspecified period of time. Records also indicate that most of the withdrawal checks were mailed to Danny's vacant ex-residence at 914 East Fillmore, while others went to his current residence, a condo on East Osborn Road.

What Danny has done with much of the money he allegedly stole from his mother and his brother is uncertain.

By all accounts, he seems to live modestly in the Osborn condo that he and Sally purchased in 1997 for $44,000 and that now is worth about $145,000.

Publicly, Danny has been claiming for years that he's pretty much tapped out financially, an unemployed, boxing trainer who works gratis with amateur fighters. He testified in his 2004 deposition that his mother occasionally has helped him cover what he described as minimal living expenses.

During his examination, Danny said straight-faced that his long-retired mother had saved the money in her retirement accounts during a career as a nutritionist, earning about $72,000 a year, and that neither he nor Michael had funded the accounts.

For the record, Mary Carbajal is a Mexican-food cook of great repute, but to anyone's knowledge, never was a nutritionist. She occasionally worked at menial jobs until Michael turned pro and may not have earned $70,000 in her whole life.

To add insult to injury, the IRS informed Mary last month that she owes $35,391 in unpaid 2003 federal taxes. The taxes stem from the withdrawals by Danny of vast sums of money from one of her retirement accounts.

It wasn't the first time that Danny failed to pay taxes on money he had withdrawn from her account. In 2004, someone — probably Danny — satisfied an IRS bill against Mary totaling about $26,000 in unpaid taxes on funds withdrawn from her account back in 1999.

Another troubling transaction concerns the true ownership of the Carbajal's original family home at 910 East Fillmore Street. On a quit-claim deed dated November 3, 1995, someone signed Mary's name to transfer ownership of the residence to Danny. In the document, it was requested that the County Recorder's Office send paperwork involving the transaction to Danny at his East Osborn address.

But the notary public whose official seal appears at the bottom of the deed never signed it, which would have indicated that she'd personally seen Mary Carbajal sign her name. Also, the quit-claim deed from mother to oldest son wasn't filed with the County Recorder's Office until March 2003, or eight years after Mary allegedly had signed it, which raises other suspicions.

Michael's girlfriend, Laura Hall, says Mary recently told her she'd never signed that quit-claim, and that she and her late husband always had intended that 910 East Fillmore go to Michael, who has lived there for most of his life.

On July 20, Mary actually did sign another quit-claim deed, with the intent of trying to get the property into Michael's name. Her alleged 1995 signature and the recent one look nothing alike.

According to the zillow.com real estate Web site, the 1,500-square-foot home at 910 East Fillmore currently is worth about $200,000.


Danny Carbajal is already in boiling-hot water, and that doesn't even count being the chief suspect in a double murder.

He is scheduled to be sentenced November 30 for defrauding and stealing from Sally Carbajal. His two daughters, Josephine and Celia, also pleaded guilty to lower-level felonies in the scam and already have been placed on probation.

Danny is facing a prison term of up to 37 years but also is eligible for probation, which is what his attorney is requesting. He remains free on $18,000 cash bond posted shortly after Phoenix police arrested him and his daughters on August 24, 2005.

In a pre-sentencing memorandum filed with county Judge Andrew Klein on September 12, Danny's criminal attorney, Sherry Bell (a partner of Henry Florence, the beneficiary of the allegedly forged $30,000 check) wrote of "an unusual amount of community support" for her client.

Among those supporters are county Board of Supervisors member Mary Rose Wilcox and her husband, Earl, both of whom are longtime friends of the Carbajal clan.

Earl Wilcox, who is a special assistant for community outreach to Governor Janet Napolitano, says he told Danny he couldn't write a letter of support because of his current position but that his wife did write one under her name.

"Mary Rose didn't hesitate because she doesn't want to see him go to jail," Wilcox says. "We've known these people forever, and they're family to us. We don't know the ins and outs of their personal stuff, but I know that my wife has always loved Michael. This is just sad stuff."

How many of Danny's supporters know of Michael's current financial plight and the primary reason for it — the greed of Danny and his daughters — is unknown. But Michael's new lawsuit will have the effect of putting Danny's allies in an unenviable spot, if only because the champ remains beloved by many, especially in the Latino community.

"If all of this is true, a lot of people like myself are going to have egg on their faces," says Wes Melton, a longtime player in the Valley boxing community who is now serving as a referee at prizefights. "I wrote because of the relationship that I did have with Danny in the boxing community and what he has done for kids. That's what I based my letter on. I knew there was a lot of skullduggery going on, a lot of problems, but as a friend, I tried to stay out of that. It's just so hard to believe that this has happened because I know how close these brothers [were]. It's not as if Danny is a drug addict or anything, so why would he have done this?"

Melton's sentiments are echoed by Rudy Buchanan, a longtime community activist now working with youth on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

"Listen," Buchanan says. "This news is very troubling to me and very sad. I don't know anything about what was and is going on inside that family. I was just asked to say a few words of support for a guy I've known for a long time, so I did."

In her court memorandum, Sherry Bell also wrote that Danny "is a loving father, a supportive son and brother, and a generous member of the community."

She wrote of "an adoring husband who married his childhood sweetheart and cherished her every day whether she was sober or drunk" but finally had to leave the marriage because Sally's alcoholism became too much for him to bear.

The defense attorney conceded that Danny had forged Sally's name to the quit-claim deeds, but only after Sally allegedly stole $400,000 from himin the late 1990s.

"When Danny finally decided to divorce, he naively thought he could [get back] the lost money by forging her name to quit-claim deeds," Bell wrote to Judge Klein.

"Danny did not act with malice; he acted stupidly without thought for the law . . . He is aware that he acted without thought and would do anything to change his actions. Danny has a somewhat menacing face, but he is a sweet man who loves his family and friends and regrets any hardship he has caused."

Bell ignores the fact that her client avowed in his 2004 deposition that it was Michael's money, not Danny's, that had funded the downtown Phoenix properties, whose value continues to grow by the year.

Danny testified then that "there's properties in my name that don't belong to me, [but] that were in mine and Sally's name," and claimed that Michael had given Sally the money "to purchase the properties. I don't know what transactions she did to get the money. She was always telling me . . . How we could do this? [She would say] 'In order to protect Michael, we'll put everything in our name. And when it comes time, we'll just turn it over to him.'"

Sally's attorney asked Danny, "You thought that was perfectly legitimate to just put money of somebody else's into a property . . . to sort of hide it from potential creditors?"

"Not creditors," Danny replied. "Just from Michael being hurt . . . If he ever got into trouble, they would take it away. Like for fighting [out of the ring], for any personal type of thing."

Trouble is, Danny never did "turn over" the properties to Michael, even after he illegally wrested them from Sally in a way that could land him in prison after his sentencing.

Instead, he held onto all of the properties until recently.

In the past year, however, Danny has sold or quit-claimed at least five of the contested properties, four of them in recent insider deals involving his daughter Josephine and Keith Brazier, the father of her son, and her current boyfriend, Jose Espinal.

For example, on September 26, one day after Danny pleaded guilty in Maricopa County Superior Court, he filed quit-claim paperwork with the County Recorder's Office to transfer his sole ownership of a tiny home at 901 East McKinley Street to Josephine.

Back in December 1999, Danny or one of his daughters had forged Sally Carbajal's name onto a quit-claim deed that transferred Sally's half-share of the McKinley house to Danny. (Sally later claimed to know nothing about that or other quit-claims signed in her name.)

That property would sell for about $116,000 today, according to zillow.com.

On October 24, Michael's attorney wrote to Josephine Carbajal that "it is our understanding that Danny Carbajal, your father, executed a quit-claim deed in your favor when you had full knowledge and understanding that, in fact, the property was originally paid for by your uncle, Michael Carbajal, and that your father had no ownership interest."

It is unthinkable to Michael, Alan Susman says, that Josephine is benefiting financially by assuming ownership of a property that she helped her father steal from her late mother — and was Michael's to begin with.

"Josephine appears to have assisted in the fraudulent activities to enable her father to steal community property assets, including several real estate property assets, from her mother," a court officer wrote of Danny and Sally's daughter in a pre-sentencing report last summer.

"Tragically, the defendant's mother — the victim in the extensive fraudulent schemes — was a victim of a homicide just days before her divorce proceedings from co-defendant and father, Danny Carbajal. As such, justice may never be served for Sally Carbajal, as her family members, who perpetrated this fraud, have received the benefits of their actions."

As part of his lawsuit, Michael is asking for legal ownership of the McKinley house revert to him.

Also, on September 19, Danny sold two lots at 926 and 930 East Fillmore to Josephine's ex-boyfriend, Keith Brazier, for $40,000, about a third of the going market price for land in booming downtown Phoenix.

Real estate records show that Danny and Sally Carbajal had "bought" the parcels from Danny's little brother Angel in 1991 for $35,000. That transaction, too, was made with Michael's money, according to Michael's new lawsuit and to Danny's own deposition.

Danny sold the parcels to Brazier just two weeks after receiving a quit-claim deed and explanatory letter from attorney Susman. A simple signature by Danny would have released the parcels to Michael.

But Susman says Danny didn't respond to his August 20 letter.

So much for Danny's returning the properties to Michael, as he'd promised in his deposition would happen in due time.

"It is clear that you did not pay fair market value and had knowledge that the properties were in the name Danny Carbajal under false pretenses," Susman recently wrote to Keith Brazier.

That land is across the street on East Fillmore from Carbajal's Ninth Street Gym, a former church turned nonprofit boxing club that opened to fanfare in the mid-1990s before slipping into disrepair.

Danny originally was president of the gym, and Sally its vice president. Michael, ironically, was listed as its treasurer.

The irony stems from Michael's never paying attention to money until lately. Instead, he left his finances in brother Danny's hands.

That won't be happening anymore.


Michael Carbajal's ascent to boxing greatness began at 910 East Fillmore Street, the family home a mile or so from Chase Field.

Danny Carbajal, who is almost 16 years older than Michael, fashioned a crude yet effective indoor-outdoor gym in the backyard, replete with homemade training contraptions and a makeshift ring.

This was Michael's legendary training ground, where he learned the ropes from his big brother in relentless sessions that began as soon as he was old enough to throw a punch.

"I want to be a world champion," Michael told New Times 20 years ago in his first press interview ever ("A Hit With His Family," September 23, 1987). "I want to have a big family of kids who love me. That's it."

Danny lived next door at 914 East Fillmore with Sally and their two daughters until a few years after Michael struck gold.

Sally was her family's breadwinner before Michael turned pro, a manager at a local Bank One (which later became Chase). Danny once had worked as a draftsman, but he spent his time after Michael hit his teens working toward one goal — turning his little brother into a world champion.

Before Michael and Chiquita Gonzalez came along, little-guy boxers (Michael fought at a mere 108 pounds for most of his career) earned a fraction of what their far-bigger counterparts could make in the ring.

But famed Las Vegas fight promoter Bob Arum took a chance on Michael after the Phoenix fighter captured the imagination of boxing fans during the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, giving the 21-year-old a substantial signing bonus shortly after the Games.

Arum's instincts about Michael proved right.

The little kid from Phoenix gave off a vibe as strong as his potent right hand; it said he intended to fight to the finish as if his life depended on it.

Danny was by his brother's side always, coaching, coaxing, complimenting, and, occasionally, chiding.

The two were inseparable despite the age difference, and national sportswriters honed in on their closeness, first at the Olympics and then as Michael quickly moved up the ladder after going pro in 1989.

As a banker, Sally Carbajal was the natural choice to intially manage Michael's growing pot of money, and Danny's 25 percent of the take as manager/trainer also became considerable. She quit her job soon after Michael became a professional.

Sally and Danny soon started investing Michael's money in the now-contested neighborhood properties, and in retirement and bank accounts. During his 2004 deposition, Danny said he and Michael had agreed at the start to the 75-25 split of Michael's boxing earnings.

None of this, he said, was put in writing.

"We were family," Danny testified. "Everything we did, we did by just our word . . . Sally was the one that set all this up."

But, according to Michael, Danny always knew exactly where all the money was going, during and after his boxing career. Those responsibilities included more than making investments on Michael's behalf.

Danny and Sally also took care of paying all of Michael's bills and giving him walking-around money, an arrangement that continued with Danny after the couple separated in 1997 until earlier this year.

In an August 2002 minute entry during Michael's divorce from then-wife, Merci (the mother of three of his four children), Superior Court Judge Richard Gama wrote:

"Michael testified that he has no knowledge or understanding regarding any of his financial information and/or investments, if any . . . Michael testified that his brother [Danny] always managed his fighting career, and all of the prize money earned during his successful boxing career. Further, Michael testified that whenever he needs income, his brother simply makes the income available to him . . . His brother also pays a monthly automobile purchase payment, automobile insurance, and other monthly living expenses on [Michael's] behalf."

In a 1997 story on Michael, written after the champ, then 29, ostensibly had become a millionaire, he told New Times ("A Long Day's Journey," April 10, 1997), "I don't know much about money and investments. I don't even like to think about it. Danny and Sally do what's best for me."

Besides going down in boxing history as a terrific fighter, Michael Carbajal always will be known as the first little guy to earn $1 million for one fight, his second of three battles with Chiquita Gonzalez at the Forum in Los Angeles on February 19, 1994.

But as Michael's boxing career took an inevitable downward turn in the mid- to late-1990s, his previously pristine reputation also took a hit. Run-ins with cops and the occasional citizen, alleged gang affiliations, the murder of a buddy on the front lawn of his East Fillmore residence, and other negative moments — many of which made front-page news — dulled the luster of Phoenix's one-time golden boy.

Still, after Michael's boxing career ended on a high note in 1999 with the knockout of Jorge Arce in that Mexican bullring, he soon became an honored "elder statesman" in the fight game, at age 32.

"Michael is a very decent guy and loyal as they come," says ex-boxer Ruben Castillo, who wants to speak at Danny's November 30 sentencing.

"People who know him know that, and people who don't know him can feel it. He never has lived fancy, and everyone knows how he left it all out there in the ring when he was fighting. Sure, he's had problems. So has everyone else. As for the money, he just figured Danny was making sure that his family was being taken care of. Instead, boom!"


Michael Carbajal's troubles with the bottle are no secret to anyone who has been around him in recent years. Plainly put, he's an alcoholic.

That's not to say he's a bad guy or a mean-spirited person, because he's not. Actually, he is courteous to most people he meets, though he remains shy, a bit withdrawn in public.

Clearly, Michael has yet to find a true niche in his post-boxing career, be it in his family's gym or something else.

Michael's girlfriend, Laura Hall, who uncovered many of the latest revelations involving Danny's alleged scams, swears that Michael hasn't been drinking nearly as much in recent weeks.

She says he knows that the filing of his lawsuit and the publication of this story are going to have an immediate and great impact on his life, and he wants to stay strong. But the pressures, especially the awful realization that his brother seems to have fleeced him, have been overwhelming.

Michael chose not to attend last June's Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in New York. He didn't want to be around his brother Danny and nieces Josephine and Celia, all of whom attended the festivities, basking in the hard-won glory that once was Michael's.

A few days ago, someone could be heard wailing in the background as New Times spoke to Laura Hall by phone for this story.

She explained that it was Michael.

"Why, Danny, why, why, why?!" he cried out, over and over.

Hall apparently felt the need to point out that Michael hadn't been drinking at the time but had been looking over paperwork related to his lawsuit.

Someday, at the least, Danny Carbajal may be compelled to answer Michael's question in a court of law.

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14 comments
Arturocarrasco75
Arturocarrasco75

mikael..keep your head up brother. Its a real shame your own blood did this to you.like i told you in your face...you have always been my idol, long before we met. and im proud of you and lucky to have shaken your hand that made you a true champion. arturo carrasco sr.

maria Sanchez
maria Sanchez

how much sympathy can anyone really have for Michael. He is not a victim in this case. Do you think Danny didn't get paid for training? Come on people, your not that dumb. Danny has to have his own money and so did Michael. this shows how blinded fans can get when someone they admire makes bad decisions. Michael tries to use the sympathy of his fans, which are limited now. If you look at Michael's history with police and his violent , loud behavior you will see that he is not the innocent man that never spend any money he claims to be. It's sad he is using his fans admiration to go against his brother. Those two were so close that I believe Michael knew where all of his money was going. You can't fool this ex-fan.

Lori
Lori

Wow, what a sad sad story...too many times things like this happen in families and it just shows that blood is not thicker than water...to stab your own brother in the back...how does he look at himself everyday..very sad for Michael...I hope he find happiness, God Bless.

Ed
Ed

I've met Michael several times at Mecca Lounge (now razed). when he got drunk, he became abusive. i guess that was why he always had friends who drank with him(he bought). If you're stupid enough to be taken, then you get taken. Danny saw an easy score and took it. you can meet Danny now at that bar on 16th street drinking Michelobs with Mike's money.

Davey Altamirano Jr.
Davey Altamirano Jr.

Danny and Michael were the men who taught me how to really throw a punch. They trained me for some time in the jr. middleweight division at the 9th st. gym. It was the best experience of my life and im truly saddened by this whole incident cause i talked to them about fighting all the time cause i always looked up to them. I feel sorry for michael and what he is going through, i pray for him and the family. god bless, AKA Little Big Head.

Ralph R
Ralph R

Everyone in boxing is talking about this story. Please follow it up

Micho
Micho

I knew some of the Carbajal's and I remember when Angel would get of the Bus and walk down the street and he would buy Ice Cream for us. But to hear all of this is sad, especially for Michael and Mary. I looked at quit claim deed and Mary is spelled with two rr's and I think she would know how to spell her own name. The more stuff that comes out about Danny the more I suspect he is guilty of these heinous things. One thing though, Michael should have always kept his financial adviser, when it comes to money, it will tear even brothers with a strong bond apart. Michael should get on the wagon rebound and focus on training the next crop of Arizona champs.

Luis Lopez
Luis Lopez

Danny and his daughters ought to be ashamed of themselves. This boy needs to go away for a long, long time....Unbelivable

Roland Parks
Roland Parks

I was a big big fan of Michael's and remember all of your great stories on him and his family from way back when. I also read your story a few years ago about the murder and couldn't believe it. This is just so sad. I can see how Michael got taken for a ride because if you can't trust your brother, who can you trust? I hope he survives all this.

MaryK Croft
MaryK Croft

My family was there in the late '80's and our band, Side Effects, did some fund-raisers for Michael in 1987. We thought they were a class act, the whole Carbajal family. How sad this whole thing is! What I most hope for is that Sally gets vindicated. Michael will simply continue to live and may or may not get over it, but Sally, a domestic violence victim, doesn't even have that much.

David Lopez
David Lopez

This is a fucking amazing story. Wowwwwwwwwww....Son of a bitch

9st vp
9st vp

Hey Maria Sanchez you got a big mouth and if you knew the truth you wouldnt be commenting like that..... danny have you believing he is not guilty.... Michael is my uncle and i know the truth i see and witness so do your research before opening your FAT mouth.... you were never a fan because a true fan would stick by his side... i am telling you this so you're not having Michael as the "bad guy"..........

Diamondjohnson317
Diamondjohnson317

Hey DUMB IDIOT, you are as stupid as your uncle. I heard all about his faggot ass. He was picking up a hooker on Van Buren by your hood and found out it was a man. He liked the man but the pimp beat up your uncle cause he did'nt want to pay. Hell nah, that's low and I think Maris has a point and sounds a lot more smarter than you. You need to research about you uncle on Vanburen. Sounds like he is a bad guy...sorry.

Trickedoutscion06
Trickedoutscion06

hey 9st vp would u be able to email me if possiable trickedoutscion06@yahoo.com

 
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