3 minute read

Oscar De La Hoya

Poor Boy

Oscar De La Hoya was born on February 4, 1973, in East Los Angeles, California, to Joel and Cecilia De La Hoya, both immigrants to the United States from Mexico. The family, including an older brother, Joel Jr., and a sister, Ceci, did not always have money for food, and to this day De La Hoya carries a food stamp in his wallet to remember where he came from. The neighborhood was tough, with street gangs and drug dealers an everyday menace. Like most kids, Oscar got into fights, and sometimes got beat up, so his father decided to get him some boxing lessons. Actually, boxing was in the De La Hoya blood. His grandfather had fought as an amateur in the 1940s and his father had boxed professionally in the 1960s. Oscar's uncles and cousins as well as his brother had also taken up the sport.

De La Hoya recalled those early years to Los Angeles Magazine reporter Bill Davidson. "My first boxing match came when I was six. On Sundays Dad would take me to the Pico Rivera Sports Arena, where there was a kind of boys' club.… One day there was a boxing tournament for kids in the arena, and Dad entered me in it. They put me in the ring with another kid, and I won. The referee stopped it. It was pretty one-sided."

Oscar De La Hoya

By the age of ten, Oscar was working out at the Resurrection Boy's Club Gym, a former church. Soon he was going religiously, and by the time he got to junior high, he was entering amateur boxing tournaments. By the time he graduated from high school, he had amassed 225 wins and only five losses. He had also become a national Junior Olympic champion. Immediately he began training for the Olympics, with Al Stankie. Before long, he had earned a place on the Olympic team by defeating Patrice Brooks for the 132-pound gold medal at the 1991 U.S. Olympic Festival. He had already won a gold medal at the Goodwill Games.

But it had not all been smooth sailing for De La Hoya. Al Stankie had a serious drinking problem, and when he was arrested for drunk driving, De La Hoya had to fire him. He hired his father's friend Robert Alcazar, as a replacement. Then a much harder blow fell. In October 1990, his mother and "biggest fan" passed away from breast cancer. Often, it had been his mother who made him go to the gym when he would rather be home or with his friends. "You'll be a champion," she told him. Before she died, she asked her son to win a gold medal at the Olympics. It was a terrible time for De La Hoya, but it gave him incredible motivation.

Chronology

1973 Born February 4, in East Los Angeles, California
1979 First boxing match
1990 Mother dies, from breast cancer, in October
1992 Fires longtime trainer Al Stankie
1992 Wins gold medal at Barcelona Olympics
1992 Makes his professional debut, beating Lamar Williams, November
1994 Wins WBO junior lightweight championship, with technical knockout of Jimmi Bredahl, March
1994 Wins WBO lightweight title by knocking out Jorge Paez, July
1995 Becomes IBF junior lightweight champion, defeating John Molina, February
1995 Fires trainer Robert Alcazar, hires Jesus "the Professor" Rivero
1995 Wins IBF lightweight championship, knocking out Rafael Ruelas, May
1996 Becomes WBC super lightweight champion by defeating legendary Julio Cesar Chavez, June
1997 Wins WBC welterweight title, defeating Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whittaker, April
2000 Loses WBC welterweight title, to Shane Mosley, June
2001 Fires Alcazar, hires Floyd Mayweather
2001 Wins WBC superwelterweight title, defeating Javier Castillejo, June

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsBoxingOscar De La Hoya Biography - Poor Boy, Chronology, Golden Boy, Champion, Awards And Accomplishments, Still The Champion - CONTACT INFORMATION