Oscar De La Hoya isn't afraid to wear pink. The Mexican-American fighter, known as "The Golden Boy" during his legendary boxing career, has given his star power and big heart to breast cancer awareness and research, in honor of his late mother.
The Cecilia Gonzalez De La Hoya Cancer Center in Los Angeles is a state of the art facility dedicated to cancer treatment, and reminds Oscar daily of his mother’s brave breast cancer fight. In addition to the center, Susan G. Komen's More Than Pink initiative celebrates the boxing great this year for encouraging millions to take action to beat breast cancer. More Than Pink's Big Bold Goal is to reduce the nation's current 40,000 cases of breast cancer by half within the next decade.
We spoke with Oscar about his philanthropy and the brave lessons he learned from his mom's biggest fight. He even shared some beginner boxing tips that you can use in your next gym class!
Your mother's name is now a symbol for so many women battling cancer. How did her health journey inspire your own life, even with boxing?
It definitely taught me that my mother was a lot stronger than I was at any given day, whether it was inside the ring or outside the ring. What she unfortunately went through was difficult for us kids to live through. Here you have a woman who is too proud to go to the hospital and get treatments, or to get mammograms because she didn’t want to leave the household and make us worry. She was the toughest person that I will ever know—she taught me courage, to stand up for myself, and confidence.
That’s so common with mothers of color. Preventative care usually take a backseat to taking care of the family. Is there anything you would say to encourage women to get necessary screenings?
You’re preparing yourself and getting ready for the fight of your life if you have breast cancer. I can’t win a fight without secluding myself, going to the mountains, training, running five miles, eating healthy and doing the necessary work to potentially win a fight. A woman gives herself less chances to win this fight against breast cancer if she doesn’t prepare herself, and the preparation is going to get the check-ups and going to get the mammograms. My number one message to women is that you’ve taken care of others all your life, it is time to take care of yourself.
We love that you’re not afraid to wear pink! How would you encourage other men to stand up for women’s issues?
I would encourage them to be a real man and fight for women because these are issues that affect all of us. From our sisters to our wives to our grandmothers, what is a man without a woman?
Another way women can empower themselves is with fitness! What’s your advice for someone who is taking up boxing and is really starting to feel that confidence?
Right from the first day you are going to feel empowered, you are going to feel strong and confident. You’re just going to feel good about yourself. But the second day when you wake up in the morning you are going to feel sore, you are going to feel like discouraged. Continue the fight, continue through that soreness, and continue through the pain because there is nothing sweeter than continuing that training for your body. Once you get over that hump you are home free. After that I you’ll feel like a superwoman.
Everyone has there like gym fight song that kind of gets you in the zone and makes you feel you can do anything. What are some songs that make you feel unstoppable?
Definitely Rocky! When I really get pumped up and ready for war, the Rocky theme song. Then I move on to Juan Gabriel’s “Amor Eterno” which is my all-time favorite song because that was my mother’s song.