How Did Pancho Gonzales Gain His Facial Scar?

TENNIS URBAN LEGEND: Pancho Gonzales received a scar from a knife fight he had when a young teen.

I’ve discussed Richard Alonzo “Pancho” Gonzales here in a past legend. To say Pancho Gonzales was misunderstood during his playing days is an understatement – he was so little known, it’d be hard to say that people knew him enough to MISunderstand him!

One thing that confused many people about Pancho was a scar he had on his left cheek (you can see it clearly in the next picture – but just to be sure, I circled where the scar is)…

Pancho Gonzales scar

People sadly spread a messed up rumor about the scar back during Gonzales’ playing days.

In his auto-biography, Man With a Racket, Gonzales explained the story himself…

Another popular misconception nourished by magazine writers, straining to come up with some sensational copy, was my scar. Around my parents and my own house it was simply referred to as “The Accident.” To hear the writers tell it, this scar, which is quite prominent, running from under my left sideburn and ending at the nose, was inflicted during a pool hall fight. Thousands of tennis spectators believe it to be true, because they think a knife scar and Mexican-American youth go hand in hand.

Not only have I never carried a knife, but as a boy I didn’t even have a bean-shooter!

The disfigurement happened in 1935. 1 was riding a home- made scooter bound for competition in a marble championship. Bill Williams was with me. He was a bigger boy with longer legs and could push his scooter faster. I was lagging behind.

“Come on, Dick!” he yelled.

Trying to close the gap, and paying no attention to the traffic, I got too far in the middle of the street. A car shot by, the door handle hooking inside my cheekbone, laying it open. Results: two weeks of hospitalization and a permanent scar. The car was driven by an off-duty policeman. He was blameless.

A lawyer came over to the house and talked at length with my parents. Extracting some papers from a brief case, he pushed them toward Mom and Dad.

“Just sign’ he said.

Dad asked for what reason.

“We’ll sue and win the case,” the lawyer explained.

“No,” Mom said, “it was Richard’s carelessness. What’s done is done.”

The lawyer was not easily dissuaded. His eyes ran over our inexpensive furniture, took in the many children. “You can use the money,” he pressed.

“Not that kind of money,” Dad said, showing him to the door.

So there ya go!

The legend is…


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One Response to “How Did Pancho Gonzales Gain His Facial Scar?”

  1. “You can use the money,” he pressed.
    “Not that kind of money,” Dad said, showing him to the door.

    Whatever happened to people with principles and a sense of justice? Did they all just die out?

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