MERCEDES — Beto’s Boxing Club had an enormous white wall.
Stanley Carr, 65, the son of Mercedes legend Herberto “Beto” Carr, saw beauty in that wall, pondering what he could do with the untouched canvas.
One day, Stanley was studying the wall when Rebecca Schwarz Ruiz, 53, the landlord of the building where the boxing club operates, walked up behind him. When she asked him what he was doing, Stanley told her, “Oh, nothing. Just thinking.”
“Well, it’d be nice if we put your dad and my dad up there,” Rebecca said in response.
What was just an idea became a reality for Stanley and Rebecca: two portraits of their fathers, conjoined by the Beto’s Boxing Club logo in the middle, painted across the previously empty canvas.
On Saturday, an inaugural drive-by parade was held for the work, dubbed the Beto Carr and Billy Schwarz Wall of Fame. Numerous officials were in attendance such as Mercedes Mayor Oscar Montoya, former Mayor Henry Hinojosa, South Texas Amateur Boxing Association President Tom Lindsey, as well as the city’s police and fire departments.
The man of the hour, 88-year-old Beto Carr was sitting on a school desk with a pair of bright red boxing gloves and his trophy for being the first inductee to the Rio Grande Valley Boxing Hall of Fame, surrounded by a crowd who loves him.
If you wanted to be a boxer, a coach or an official in South Texas, you definitely met Beto Carr, who was an area coordinator. Due to the pandemic, however, Stanley said his father had to retire last year — a painful decision for Beto.
“He is not happy about it, but he understands that that’s what needs to be done,” Stanley explained.
To understand Beto’s difficult decision, one needs to rewind to 1977 — the beginning of his journey in amateur boxing. Also a Korean War veteran with two Purple Heart awards for his service, Stanley said that boxing had a big impact on Beto.
“With what he’s gone through, that’s what helps keep him sane,” the son said.
In addition to owning Beto’s Boxing Club since 1977, Beto has done it all: coached boxing, trained future champions (such as former IBA Light Welterweight Champion Tomas Barrientes), was a cutman, a cornerman and a level three official — the highest level in amateur boxing — to name a few.
“He’s been recognized with all sorts of awards,” Stanley said. “He’s received just about every award you can imagine as far as amateur boxing is concerned.”
Even in recent times, Beto continues to be recognized. In 2019, he was the first to be inducted in the RGV Boxing Hall of Fame.
“It wasn’t a hard choice to pick who would be the first person inducted into this great hall of fame, I mean, we’ve got many, many champions,” Lindsey said. “All roads lead to Beto Carr. All roads.”
Yet, recognition aside, Stanley said the important part for his father was guiding the boxers (children) in the right direction and making sure they’d stay out of trouble.
“He’s my pride and joy, he’s my hero,” Stanley said. “I believe that this is the least I could do for him.”
Whereas Beto is well-known, Billy Schwarz is more under the radar — literally.
Since he was a pilot, Billy would fly under the radar so he could take necessities, such as food and clothes, to poor people in Mexico, according to Stanley.
“There was a lot of things that my dad did that were not really exactly quite legal, but he didn’t give a damn,” Rebecca said.
Because her father and his brothers “were all over the place,” Rebecca referred to the radar story as a legend of things he may have done. “Who knows,” she said.
Born in Harlingen and raised in Mexico, Billy went on to become a minister, where he touched many people’s lives, according to his daughter.
“He lived a life that only some people dream about living,” Rebecca said, adding that her father was an extraordinary person.
When Beto’s Boxing Club moved to the building they’re currently at, Billy was the owner at the time. Had it not been for his kindness, Stanley said he and his father would’ve had a more difficult time.
“Whether it’s next month or next year or five years from now, when your dad retires, you go ahead and take over,” Billy told Stanley during an exchange at a time where his father’s retirement was up in the air. “It doesn’t matter if you have money or not. We’re not gonna worry about that.”
Festivities kicked off with an escort lead by the Mercedes Fire Department, followed by attendees in their vehicles honking and cheering for Beto as they drove by. As a precaution due to COVID-19, attendees were asked to park in a parking lot across the street and watch at a safe distance.
The speeches of the special guests celebrated the lives of Beto Carr and Billy Schwarz, from the mayor reminiscing of attending Beto’s gym to Rebecca celebrating her father’s life.
“The mural talks about two men who did for their community and did for their kids,” Montoya said, adding that both of the men’s children — Stanley and Rebecca — have followed in their footsteps of giving.
Montoya also told a story of Billy in his deathbed, telling Rebecca that the gym was important because of the children. He revealed that Rebecca allowed Stanley to continue operating the gym without charging rent during the pandemic, which as a result, allowed Stanley to continue serving the children of Mercedes.
“It tells you about their parents and what they instilled in them,” Montoya said.
Montoya’s word couldn’t be any more truthful, because the event wasn’t just to celebrate the lives of Beto and Billy.
Gonzalez, who put in about 50 hours of work into the mural, was also recognized not just for Beto’s Boxing Club’s mural, but for his work throughout the Valley. He has created murals of prominent figures and local Valley legends across the region.
“I think this is the first recognition I’ve ever had,” Gonzalez said after he was presented with the plaque, which filled him with emotion. “I give everything to it, just as they did for the community.”
After the event, attendees were allowed to meet Beto and take photos with him, backdropped by the mural.
As for Billy, Rebecca said he would have never wanted to be on the side of a building.
“That was not him, but he’s just gonna have to deal with it,” Rebecca said during her speech, which was met with laughter from the crowd.