For Oscar De La Hoya, it was all about image. Nicknamed ‘The Golden Boy,’ De La Hoya did whatever he could to cover up his faults to become one of the best boxers in the sport. Inside the boxing ring, he more than held his own. Outside the ring, De La Hoya admits he was exhausted trying to be someone he wasn’t.
Oscar De La Hoya’s boxing career
Oscar De La Hoya was born into a boxing family as his father was a professional boxer in the 1960s. At age 15, De La Hoya captured the national Junior Olympics as a 119-pound fighter. At the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, De La Hoya, representing the United States, won the gold medal as a lightweight.
On Nov. 23, 1992, De La Hoya made his professional boxing debut. He made quick work of Lamar Williams, knocking him out in the first round. De La Hoya won his first 31 pro fights, including victories over Pernell Whitaker, Hector Camacho, and a pair of wins over Julio Cesar Chavez. De La Hoya suffered his first pro loss Sept. 18, 1999, against Felix Trinidad.
De La Hoya lost a split decision to the undefeated Floyd Mayweather in 2007. He finished his boxing career with a record of 39-6. He won 30 of those fights by knockout. De La Hoya won 11 world titles in six different weight classes.
De La Hoya was no Golden Boy
Back in 1990, Oscar De La Hoya’s mother died of breast cancer. She had dreams of her son becoming an Olympic gold medalist. Those dreams came true in 1992 when he won the gold at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. At that time, De La Hoya was nicknamed ‘The Golden Boy’ and the name stuck with him throughout his career.
Inside the boxing ring, the nickname was valid. Outside of the ring, De La Hoya had his share of troubles. In 2000, Shanna Moakler, the mother of De La Hoya’s oldest daughter, sued the boxer for $62 million, alleging domestic violence and claiming he was an alcoholic. The case was eventually settled out of court.
In 1998, De La Hoya was accused of rape in Mexico. The case, according to The Los Angeles Times, was settled out of court. De La Hoya has been in and out of drug and alcohol treatment centers. De La Hoya has also admitted to using cocaine.
‘My life was just a big lie’
In a 2016 interview with Graham Bensinger, Oscar De La Hoya admitted he wasn’t The Golden Boy everyone thought he was. He was candid with Bensinger, saying he didn’t even want to go to his first trip to rehab. “I just didn’t accept the fact I had a problem,” said De La Hoya, who took his first drink when he was 8. “I couldn’t accept that.
“My life was just a big lie. I knew how to manipulate and I knew how to lie. I knew how to cover up. It was so exhausting, just so exhausting doing all that. I had to juggle this image – The Golden Boy – and being the perfect father and the perfect husband. Wow. And then knowing that it’s not true. That was exhausting.”
De La Hoya said he didn’t let anyone at all know what was going on in his life. “I would keep everybody away from what I was feeling,” he said. “I knew how to hide any type of feeling I was feeling. I even knew how to lie to myself. I would convince myself, this is right.”