Oscar de la Hoya: Former Champion? Washed up fighter? Shrewd entrepreneur? An enigma, a superstar, he is the recipient of the fantasies and the projections of millions of people worldwide, boxing fans and non-boxing fans alike.
In 2008, Oscar published an autobiography with Steve Springer entitled American Son: My Story.
The book covers many elements of his life, from his childhood in a family of Mexican immigrants with a boxing bloodline through his success at the highest level of both amateur and professional boxing, to the establishment of Golden Boy Promotions.
The end of the story comes before de la Hoya's loss to Pacquaio, which would be an interesting footnote.
It is a bit surreal to go inside de la Hoya's world of fame and celebrity. He has some narcissistic tendencies, so he sometimes views the world through a very self-centered lens, and admits to feeling hollow in some ways.
It is probably true, however, that it is this very competitive, self-focused drive was the characteristic that brought him to the top of his sport.
It is interesting to learn, as de la Hoya describes his development, that he set his sights on an Olympic gold medal in boxing as early as sixth grade. As the child of immigrants from Mexico, living in East L.A., this dream was little Oscar's version of the American Dream.
De la Hoya is honest in the book about some of his defeats (though he protects his ego in writing about others, particularly about his '07 loss to Mayweather), and he describes his determination at the age of 7 to redeem himself from a humiliating loss his first time in the ring at the age of 4 to an older, more experienced cousin, with the rest of his family watching.
When he returns to the ring three years later, the reader can feel the intensity of his determination at the age of seven to redeem himself from that loss.
One element of de la Hoya's career that surprised me was his frequent switching of trainers.
These changes would occur because either he or his father, from whom he always sought approval, would become discontented with some element of the training and feel they needed to move on to someone better.
By the time he got to the top, he was lonely and unsatisfied.
De la Hoya found renewed meaning in his pursuit and attainment of a famous Puerto Rican singer as his wife.
He applied his determination to making sure he wouldn't become just another retired boxer whenever he retires, applying both the knowledge and the publicity he gained as a boxer in creating and running Golden Boy Promotions.
He describes the trial and error learning curve in creating the company as he honed his decision-making and negotiation skills.
Part nostalgic reminiscences of peak moments, part unveiling of the truth of his personal experience, American Son is worth the read for the glimpse into the world of the man behind the myth.
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