Oscar De La Hoya was six years old when he first began to box. “My brother, Joel Jr., put a pair on me and the other pair on one of my cousins,” Oscar recalled. “Then he yelled ‘Time!’ immediately, I covered my cheeks with the gloves.” “The next thing I knew — wham — the first punch is a left jab that goes between my gloves and lands smack on my nose!” Oscar De La Hoya ran home, crying every step of the way.
Oscar De La Hoya never pictured himself becoming a fighter. He was always found in the park playing baseball with the other kids. It was actually his older brother Joel Jr. who many believed had the potential to become a great fighter.
Joel Jr. never pictured his younger brother as a fighter. “Oscar hated physical confrontations, he never had a street fight. He preferred to play with skateboards near the house and baseball in the park. Nothing violent.” But boxing is in the Oscar De La Hoya tradition and blood. It goes back several generations when his grandfather, Vicente, a 126-pound amateur in the 1940s, and his father Joel, Sr., who fought as a lightweight in the professional ranks in the mid-1960s.
Oscar was being pushed to go to the gym and learn to defend himself. He started going to the Eastside Boxing Gym in East L.A and began training and remembers that “every time I won a fight, my cousins, aunts and uncles would give me money. A dollar here, a quarter there, half a buck.”
It was there that this future world champion began his road to stardom.
Oscar De La Hoya quickly discovered the ingredient that would make him a devastating fighter, his powerful left hand. He began to train religiously.
Oscar‘s first true test was at the 1992 Olympics. He waited anxiously and prepared his entire life for that moment. He promised his ailing mother, Cecilia, that he would bring back home the gold medal. There was no question in his mind that he would win it. He was going to win it for his mother!
The road to the gold medal bout was not an easy one. As the Olympic tournament began he disposed of his first three opponents – knocking out the first. Then in his first medal round match, what should have been an easy victory became a close controversial decision. Oscar De La Hoya struggled against his opponent’s awkward bull-rushing style, but Oscar would not be denied as he emerged with a tight one-point victory.
Oscar De La Hoya was now in the gold medal bout. The very gold medal he promised his beloved mother and was eager to win since all the other U.S. boxers failed to bring home the gold.
His final hurdle would come against Marco Rudolph, the fighter who had defeated Oscar one year earlier at the World Championships in Australia. It was De La Hoya‘s first loss as an amateur in four years. For Oscar, it would make the victory that much sweeter.
Oscar De La Hoya, fighting at 132 pounds, dominated the fight from beginning to end. He controlled Rudolph for the entire three rounds. In the third round, he used his powerful left hand to knock down Rudolph. It was no contest and the referee stopped the fight. Oscar De La Hoya celebrated by dancing around the ring with a U.S. flag in one hand and a Mexican flag in the other.
Oscar had accomplished his ultimate goal, he fulfilled his special promise to his mother — one of the most emotional moments of the Olympic Games.
During his amateur boxing career, De La Hoya‘s record was an outstanding 223-5 with 163 knockouts.
After the Olympics, Oscar De La Hoya bought a big house in a nice neighborhood a few miles from East L.A. He wanted to share the success of winning the gold medal and the house with his mother, but she was already gone. His mother, Cecilia died of breast cancer.
Oscar De La Hoya wanted to quit boxing because the pain of losing his mother was unbearable, but he realized that she wanted him to be a great fighter. So he continued and became a five-time world champion with explosive power and great boxing skills in the ring.
Oscar De La Hoya has won world crowns at 130, 135, 140, 147 and 154 pounds beating some impressive boxers along the way. He stopped Wilfredo Rivera in eight rounds on the “Title Wave” championship card in Atlantic City, NJ and defeated a tough Hector Camacho in 1996 by unanimous decision. “He’s a true champion,” said Camacho. “He’s the best I’ve ever fought and I’ve been in there with the best.”
De La Hoya‘s also fought against the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez in Chavez’s 100th professional fight. Oscar defeated him soundly and cut Chavez’s eye and broke his nose, but felt honored to be in the ring with such a true warrior and boxing legend.
Oscar De La Hoya captured the welterweight title in his victory over six-time world champion Pernell Whitaker on April 12, 1997, in Las Vegas. It was a huge challenge for the Golden Boy who went up seven pounds (from 140 to 147) and took on a seasoned tricky southpaw who at times fought in a low crouch and fired from different angles.
He ruled the welterweight division until he met up with the hard-hitting Felix Trinidad on September 18, 1999. It was one of the most anticipated fights in the 90’s and broke pay-per-view box office records. The outcome for the very first time wasn’t in Oscar’s favor. He lost a 12-round unanimous decision and the WBC Welterweight title went to Felix Trinidad.
After a successful fight against Derrell Coley, Oscar De La Hoya went after the tough Sugar Shane Mosely and lost by unanimous decision in a 12 round WBC title match.
The loss to Mosely and Trinidad made him re-think his desire to continue boxing. Oscar De La Hoya decided to take some time away boxing and pursue a childhood fantasy — singing.
Oscar De La Hoya has been singing since the age of seven when he and his beloved mother, Cecilia use to sing Spanish songs together every day. “Since I was a little boy I have always wanted to record an album. I used to listen to my mother sing around the house, every hour of the day, listening to her singing ballads. We would then sing together around the house with her everyday.”
Oscar De La Hoya released his first album on EMI/Latin Records named “Oscar” and was successful. The album topped Billboard’s Latin Dance charts for several weeks and “Ven a Mi,” a single from the album was nominated for a Grammy.
But boxing was still in Oscar‘s blood and after a 10 months layoff, De La Hoya returned to the ring with a new trainer – Floyd Mayweather Sr.
After defeating Arturo Gatti in his first fight back, Oscar De La Hoya had his mind set on becoming champion again. His target — WBC super welterweight champion, Javier Castillejo of Spain.
Oscar De La Hoya pounded Castillejo for 12 rounds to win an easy unanimous decision over the Spaniard in rout to his fifth world boxing title in as many weight classes. A feat that has only been accomplished by boxing legends Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns.
Besides having a great boxing career and an impressive brief singing career, Oscar De La Hoya tied the knot in 2000 with sultry Latin pop singer Millie Corretjer of Puerto Rico in a secret ceremony in San Juan.
On June 5, 2004, Oscar De La Hoya went after his sixth world title in another weight class — the Middleweight Division. His opponent was Felix Sturm, an undefeated boxer from Germany who was unknown in the United States.
Sturm was the aggressor all night, nailing Oscar De La Hoya with left jabs. In the final rounds, De La Hoya managed to out-box his opponent to win the WBO middleweight title by unanimous decision.
The tables were now set for a showdown with the undisputed middleweight champion (160 pounds), Bernard Hopkins.
De La Hoya, who has stated to fight only the best fighters in boxing, lived up to his words when he fought Bernard Hopkins on September 17, 2004. Oscar De La Hoya fought valiantly for 8 rounds against Hopkins, but fell to the ground and couldn’t recover from a devastating left hook to the rib cage in the ninth round.
“He caught me with a perfect punch.” said a disappointed De La Hoya. “I tried to get up, but I couldn’t. I had the wind taken out of me.”
Oscar De La Hoya has plans to continue fighting, but at the lower weight class of 154 or 147 pounds.
Despite a few losses in his boxing career, Oscar De La Hoya continues to be on top of the welterweight division and is still regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Oscar‘s pleasant personality and good looks has made him one of the most recognized and likable athletes in the world today.