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Oscar De La Hoya: 'I had to work harder to prove that I was a businessman'

Yahoo Finance is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month by highlighting some of the achievements of Hispanic Americans in business and tech.

Oscar De La Hoya is known the world over as the Golden Boy. He’s had one of the most successful boxing careers in history, capturing Olympic gold and 10 world titles in 6 different divisions. But it’s his success in the world of business that sets him apart from his opponents in the ring. He founded and runs one of the most successful boxing and mixed martial arts promotion companies in the world, aptly named Golden Boy Promotions.

Born to box

The son of Mexican immigrants, De La Hoya was born in Montebello, Los Angeles, in 1973. It can be said that De La Hoya was born to box — his grandfather was an amateur fighter, and his father boxed professionally for a time in the 1960s.

In 1990, De La Hoya brought home the Golden Gloves championship, using his mother’s death from cancer in 1990 to fuel him to victory. It was her dream that her son one day win an Olympic gold medal — and in at the 1992 Olympic games, he did just that.

Oscar De La Hoya (L) of the U.S. punches compatriot Floyd Mayweather Jr. during their WBC Super Welterweight championship match at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada May 5, 2007. Mayweather won by decision. REUTERS/Steve Marcus (UNITED STATES)

De La Hoya turned pro soon after the games and went on to have one of the most successful boxing careers in history. In 2014 the Golden Boy was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

In 2002, Oscar’s mind turned to business and founded Golden Boy Promotions in Las Angeles. Golden Boy has produced hundreds of pay-per-view events on major networks such as HBO and Showtime, and more recently partnered with streaming network DAZN In fact, De La Hoya negotiated the richest contract in sports history for Golden Boy boxer, fellow Latino and multiple-time world champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

Hispanic heritage

De La Hoya, who retired from the ring in 2009, says that the Latino community has been a constant source of support and inspiration. “They have been proud of my success and helped me overcome challenging situations,” he said. Because of this, the Golden Boy wants to give back to his community. He tells Yahoo Finance that 80% of his work team is Latino.

The former World Champion admits that being a Hispanic athlete in the business world has been a challenge at times. "I was a former athlete, and thus, I had to work harder to prove that I was a businessman as well. Adding to that, being Hispanic added an additional layer of doubt that I had to overcome. I did it by being focused, being prepared, and knowing how to leverage my knowledge of my sport to be more effective in business."

De La Hoya keeps his Hispanic heritage in mind when he is making business decisions — especially when it comes to boxing.

“Boxing is mainly consumed by Hispanics. We strongly feel that as long as we continue to deliver content that is identifiable to our consumers — content that they can relate to, we believe that we can grow that audience, and we can grow the sport as well.”

De La Hoya has also found business success outside of the sports world. Together with actor Mario Lopez and food and beverage industry professional, Don Buccio, De La Hoya founded Casa Mexico Tequila. The distillery recently struck a partnership deal with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams for exclusive marketing rights at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for all Rams home games. The deal is reportedly worth $500,000.

Despite achieving massive fame and fortune, De La Hoya refuses to forget from whom and where he came from — his family and the Latino community.

“I learned empathy, loyalty, and passion from my family and my community. I use each of these traits every day in how I conduct business. I learned empathy from my mother, loyalty from my immediate family, and passion from my community. I wear my Latino-ness with honor each and every day and am very proud to be the first Hispanic to own a national boxing promotional company.”

Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.

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