Sunday, December 07, 2008

On Oscar De La Hoya

By Rick Farris

After sixteen successful years of fighting the best, it's time for Oscar to hang 'em up. I will never forget the first time I heard his name. My former manager Johnnie Flores told me of Oscar in December, 1989, while attending the funeral of one of my stablemates. Flores was very excited about a 16-year-old amateur world champ named Oscar De La Hoya. Johnnie was Mr. Golden Gloves in Los Angeles, and the fighter was nearly three years from winning Olympic gold.

"He's the best amateur I have ever seen" Those were Johnnie Flores words, and Johnny had seen Mando Ramos, another youthful over-achiever just a few years back. Johnny had brought Jerry Quarry thru the amateurs to a National GG heavyweight title and on to a pro career that included world title bouts with Ali & Frazier. Even so, Flores told me on that day that Oscar was the best 16-year-old he'd seen. I started to tell Flores about the Ruelas brothers, who were about the same age and fighting amateur under the Goossens. Flores acknowledged Gabe and Rafael, but he waved off any suggestion that they were equal to Oscar. I'm then thinking back over Johnny's L.A. amateur experience and his familiarization with the Baltazar Boys, and Thurman Durden, Ed Sanders, Clay Hodges, Keeny Teran, Gil Cadilli . . . nope, this kid De La Hoya was the best he said he'd ever seen. Johnnie rarely made such statements, but I heard this, and a couple years later I'd see the Los Angeles boy win the Olympics, and everything else he touched.

Here's my feelings. Oscar is an L.A. guy, who came out of the same tournaments that I did, as did Mando Ramos, the Baltazar boys, Davila, Sandovals, the Quarry's, and so many more. He did it right. Was he lucky, maybe, but more so he was tough & talented. He did his mother proud, and he did all of former L.A. boxers proud, even the ones who are envious and bitter. 

VIVA Oscar!

Now hang 'em up, it's over.


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