Boxing and Masculinity The History and (Her)stary

of Oscar de 10 Haya

Gregory Rodriguez

AT THE DAWN of the new millennium

as Chicanas!os consider the possibilities and paradoxes of their place in an evolving global culture, some Chicana! 0 scholars are delineating the contours of what they claim is nothing less than a Chicano cultural "renaissance."? The renaissance is not a renaissance at all, to the extent that it marks a "rebirth." Chicanas! os have been a cultural force in the West since the seventeenth century. The renaissance instead reveals in large part generations of ethnic Mexicans branching out together in forms of intercultural communication such as popular music, theater, sport, art, poetry, dance, and literature, to name but a few. This flourishing of popular cultural forms serves to reconnect individuals to their communities and helps them construct forms of identification that are often political and capable of bridging generational, national, and class divides. In other words, the swell of popular cultural activity is not just about entertainment. While it might be "fun," it tends to be a form of "serious fun." Latina! 0 popular cultural icons have based. lucrative careers not just on their abilities as actors, musicians, performance artists, and athletes, but also on their ability to identify with fans as proud members of Latino communities in often hostile United States cultural settings. Yet popular culture not only offers a domain for the affirmation of ethnic identity, it also offers a means to affirm, shape, and contest gender identity. It provides us with chances to express ourselves and intervene in cultural processes that shape what it means to be male or female, masculine or feminine. These relationships of gender often revolve around issues of ethnicity, which often revolve around issues of gender

and sexuality, making identity something difficult to understand unless we consider a wide range of specific historical circumstances. Chicana! 0 boxing offers one form of serious fun where we see people at work constructing or deconstructing ways of being this or that kind of "man," or this or that kind of American," or this or that kind of "Latino." The career of Los Angeles boxing champion Oscar de la Hoya is a perfect example of a popular cultural process in which fans have been imagining new ways of being Latina! 0 in the United States. . In the first half of the twentieth century, Los Angeles boxing contributed to a sense of ethnic belonging among Mexican-descent people much the way flags, anthems, religious icons, geographical boundaries, commonality of language, political structures, and the ideas of a shared culture did. In the second half of the century, movements for Mexican American self-determination in the United States heightened awareness of group differences; nationalistic and ethnic expressions in boxing permitted the blurring of differences and helped to unite a multiethnic people behind a single sporting ideal. By the 1970s the great unifying quality emerging in boxing was that it offered a community of involvement that provided a place for everyone, whatever her age or station, whether fan or player. The sport came to represent the dreams of ethnic Mexicans who were White or Black, middle-class or workingclass, older or younger, "right-wing" or "left-wing," male or female, "gay" or "straight." By the 1980s new ethnic Mexican boxing idols emerged within a postindustrial era where a corporate order manufactured their celebrity within an ever-expanding media network. The career of Oscar de 1a Hoya emerged. from this rich boxing history of Mexican Los Angeles. Oscar de la Hoya was a second-generation Mexican American born in Los Angeles in 1971. Vicente de la Hoya, Oscar's abuelito (grandfather), came to Los Angeles in 1956 and, among other jobs, worked as an auto mechanic in a garage at Seventh Street and Central Avenue. In 1957 he had saved enough to open a small Mexican restaurant half a block away that he named VIrginia's Place. Shortly thereafter he entered the demolition business. He would bid on home demolition jobs, knock the houses down, haul the scrap lumber to Mexicali, and sell it. According to one of Oscar's cousins, lots of families live in Mexicali homes that were built of lumber hauled there by Oscar de la Hoya's grandfather. Vicente de la Hoya, who boxed as an amateur in Durango, Mexico, following World War II, ultimately returned to Mexico, retiring

"s De la Hoya's "golden boy" image was so attractive that he was made into a parody of the quintessential" American. in instilling values necessary for success in life. Oscar's father. Joel de la Hoya. gyms. to be worth close to $100 million+ Today in 2001 he is worth at least twice that amount. working-class form of masculinity that resonated with the lives of ethnic Mexican males beyond the ring. In his amateur career he won 223 bouts and lost only five..:" Carol Koshi. family-oriented. and wholesome."? Much was made of de la Hoya's dedication of his Olympian quest to his "best friend.. Talking trash has become an American hallmark. I don't say he has to go to prison. Oscar doesn't have to work on his jab. Some fans expected de la Hoya to reproduce the warrior image they had cultivated in Los Angeles boxing for over eighty years.. was thought of as being "down with the boys. ever once complained about what he was doing or how much it was taking of his life. In 1975 he became a dispatcher for an Azusa firm that made industrial heating and air-conditioning systems and would remain in that job until his son made sure that he would never have to work again." and this must be understood in part as a reference to his ethnicity and gender.. As comedian Paul Rodriguez put it. "He always had a goal and worked toward it.. He really is a single-minded young man .. as well as education. and he's not the kind of guy to go out to Lincoln Park and have Budweiser with the boys.. threaterring Mexican masculinity so often represented by the media. turned pro. learned to box in East L. who died a year before he became a professional champion. his public conflicts with ethnic Mexican fans over the meaning of manhood in boxing provide good examples of these debates in everyday life. in boxing in 1979. mother Teresa? So far as anyone knows. on the other hand. I mean..A." she said. gave a glowing report of de la Hoya's own school behavior." Although de la Hoya's image spoke to idealized forms and styles of masculinity that varied according to the cultures in which they were framed and performed. a former nun who was de 1a Hoya's principal at Garfield High School.'s world famous Olympic Auditorium.254 GREGORY RODRIGUEZ BOXING AND MASCULINITY 255 in Mexicali." because he knew when "to hit the ceroeza instead of the heavy bag. drink.'? The story of Maria Elena Tostado. It's part and parcel of the way we compete . fool around-he's very dedicated to boxing and his schoolwork." an astonished Jim Murray observed: Look at him! You ever see a prizefighter like him? Even Dempsey bragged a little. He went to Roosevelt High School. "The most important thing in life. Oscar is not a very talkative guy. must have seen he had special qualities. the referee a crook. He has to learn his opponent is a bum. But he can't do that. he too boxed several times at L.. de la Hoya's elementary school teacher at Ford Boulevard Elementary School.. His mother . Part of de la Hoya's fanfare involved repetitive references to de la Hoya as a "good Mexican. 'Thanks for taking care of me. circulated in numerous accounts. who does he think he is. Not our Oscar . Even after two recent losses to Felix Trinidad and Sugar Shane Mosely he remains the number one draw in the boxing world today and ranks second only to the recently retired Michael Jordan and golf star TIger Woods in endorsement earnings by sports figures.' They'll love you even more. a distinctive East L.m. and fashioned. I mean. he doesn't smoke. difference of opinion with a bartender is indicated... Joe Louis too." "He doesn't look right... And he didn't get into fights. Oscar never even stole a Hershey bar." he once told an elementary school gathering. He should learn to scowl a lot.A. Trash his opponent. De la Hoya appealed to many corporate sponsors because he was telegenic. many ethnic Mexican fighters before rum. was sixteen when he arrived in Los Angeles in 1956." she was quoted as saying.. to speak publicly to "inner-city kids" about the importance of family.A. "He was so nice. In 1992 he won Olympic gold at Barcelona and in less than nine years has earned four world titles and established a record of thirtythree wins and two losses. What kind of record is that for a champion? It's unAmerican . Reports repeatedly recorded the quote from de la Hoya's father that "Oscar's a very good boy. Like so . nonstop. but he has to work on his vocabulary. He was encouraged.. at the age of eight. He's never."!' . in tournaments at the Pica Rivera Boys Club. His promoters portrayed him as "all-American. "He knew what he wanted from Day I. That's what they want. it's not in his system/"? World champion and Mexican national Julio Cesar Chavez." the antithesis of the stereotypical. his uppercut.? Oscar de la Hoya first competed.. a 9-3-1 record. Oscar is reserved and shy. give your mom a big hug and tell her that you love her and tell your parents. Travel around with an entourage. "A lot of my Chicano friends misunderstand being shy for arrogance. and that bad manners sell tickets.." his mother. but maybe a 2 a.' In 1992 he was estimated. . "is to love and listen to your parents: When you go home. "He did everything I asked of rum.

none "specifically mentioned de la Hoya's country of birth as an issue.. on the other hand. jubilantly yelling to the crowd. when in 1996 de la Hoya was billed to meet Chavez in the ring. I kind of went through a little bit of that with Tommy Hearns. there's room to change. and the crowd rapturously chanted back to him. And you turn around and they're saying. at the very end. And they say good luck and this and that-kick his butt. tell you what dependlllg who wins this fight and how impressive it is. . Then he would batter you. 1 used to like him when he won the gold medal. De la Hoya? He left East L. "Oh. body part by body part." he said. But. His approach to boxing reflected middle-class values whereby the body is seen less as a means to an end-as in the working body-than as an end in itself." You sense it right away. Instead. who attended neighboring Roosevelt High at the same time that de la Hoya attended Garfield. sacrificed the body in order to "work inside. his background and his culture. As one Mexican American high school student argued. Chavez enjoyed a popularity that transcended national identities. I mean they're just after you for your autograph. he bled for them. he's going to get his butt kicked.. De la Hoya. really is blue-collar. fervently. they believed. "Chavez was exactly what Mexicans loved in a fighter.A. De 1a Hoya disrupted the hopes of some ethnic Mexican fans by varying widely from the traditional "slug-it-out" style (or. "Oh. "workmanlike" style) that had been popularized in local arenas.. But when a reporter for the Los Angeles Times tested this theory among a sample of Mexicans. Kawakami. Sinaloa. Chicanos. He couldn't drive that Corvette or whatever fast enough out of here. and see he hasn't changed. a number of East L. Chavez soaked it all up. when you're not looking. he would allow you to hit him with everything you had. until.the moment it was announced that de la Hoya would face the legendary Mexican champion Julio Cesar Chavez."14 Deemed "Kid Barrio" by an adoring public. To the people of those [Los Angeles} streets." De la Hoya."17 Ethnic Mexican fans and fighters also read boxing style as another distinguishing feature of a prizefighter's masculinity. and beautiful body. who experienced some of the same coldness in his neighborhood in Maryland until late in his career. the split in fan allegiances reflected roughly the split between Mexican nationals and Chicanos in East L. had a much different experience walking the streets of his hometown. he's going to lose. ''You go down to the neighborhood and you shake people's hands. to the immigrant Mexicans and the fight fans of the Latino populace. "He moved out of here and went to the Montebello Hills. meanwhile. at least within the ethnic Mexican community. let's take a picture. "I think it's all about the perception here that Chavez. The way it was :mth me wasn't on this grand of a scale . Consequently."13 Sugar Ray Leonard." Leonard suggested. and one Nicaraguan. arms and hands were everywhere. But. Chavez stood for Mexican pride. All the people that I know.A:s deep affection for the "workmanlike" boxing style of Chavez. "And Oscar is a white-collar fighter. is as a struggle over the meaning of manhood. When Chavez bled. "12 One way to think about debates over the "Latino ideal. de la Hoya endorsed an approach to boxing as a means to a fit." especially in boxing. He's too much of a showoff. had just commissioned the design of his . "VVhat was the first thing [Oscar] did after he came back from the Olympics?" asked Gladys Martinez. healthy. beat him for us. the main theme was that Chavez [had] stayed true to the Latino ideal-and that de la Hoya [was] aiming for success as measured by Anglo-America. reaching out to him and touching him and chasing him.. The stereotypical boxing style of ethnic Mexicans. on the other hand. that is. On a walk with Chavez down Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles one afternoon. who never moved from his impover~ed hometown of Culiacan. interpreting his actions as unmanly. When de la Hoya became rich and moved from the barrio of "East Los" (as it was known among Chicanas/os) to a suburban home to the south in Montebello. as Sugar Ray Leonard called it.A. Chavez was instantly embraced as the hero of barrios everywhere. didn't he?"15 According to TlIIl. You look at Chavez." attacking the body and allowing oneself to be attacked.256 GREGORY RODRIGUEZ BOXING AND MASCULINITY 257 According to Paul Rodriguez. they want Julio to beat his butt. it seemed like.. Chavez embraced the barrios-e-and the people embraced him right back.. fans felt snubbed. "I don't like de la Hoya at all. you were swallowing your own blood and dizzy from the experience. believed that most of the strong feelings emanated from East L. through a narrow corridor lined with outdoor booths." noted Tim Kawakami: To hit you.A.

Almost immediately followmg his professional debut. I'm not just any fighter. de la Hoya continually thought of himself as both "Mexican" and "American" and clearly had set his mind on trying to be "both." de la Hoya challenged commonly held assumptions about masculine pride and raised the profile of the "pretty boy. Consequently. according to JIm Murray for the Los Angeles Times. I'm gOing to go out there. "19 In defying the stereotypical image of the "Mexican boxer who fights with his face. one fan. Jose Angel. and national power. Females especially appreciated stories about de la Hoya s ost:n~l1bly progressive relationships with the women in ~s life. the desire to be free to express a complex identity grows strong in a world that makes such hybrid expressions possible. I would like to be the way he made his money and was very smart-exactly like that. in which survival has meant negotiating identi- ties in the borderlands of racial.P His apparent openness to the influence of women in shaping the production a:nd consumption of his career generated a widespread fem~e follo~g. I want to make my money and I want to live well. East Los Angeles "would accept me more. If Ilooked like a fighter. and he surely never talked about them. more altar boy than home boy. sexual." De la Hoya-with his millions of dollars. De la Hoya's "difference" mattered ~ecause Ul. And he wouldn't even comment on the hot-button issue of the day-the California proposition [187]that . anyway. To Anzaldua." As Gloria Anzaldua has argued about life in the borderlands. de la Hoya explains that the tradition is that you're going to see a brutal fight and you have to go in there and bleed. I'm not going to give them that. All staying clean means is that he knows how to kick ass With his brain." or a "pretty boy Mexican" and a "macho American. No other boxing champion h~s had t:ns masculinity called into question like de la Hoya. I'll get it over with and that's it." This meant possibly being both a "macho Mexican" and a "pretty boy American. was "more priest than pug.. movie-star looks. l'msorry." he announced.up space for ethnic Mexicans to imagine and cel~b~~te the mor~ sensitive and intelligent aspects of the violent masculinities of the M~es and females found in de la Hoya a masculinity constructed in pnzefighting that could be upheld beyond the ring. that's it. some. My image is like a star image. but I'm not going out there to put on a brutal show. not a Mexican American. Or maybe archbishop." he continues..thnic M~can men f~~~ in de la Hoya a fitting example of a redefinition of their own sensibilities as ethnic men. who died of breast nn? . history and culture in the ethnic Mexican experience involves processes of mestizaje. De la Hoya's projection of the If damn near perfect man.. ~ founding s~ory ~f his fandom centered on his mother. de la Hoya drew criticism from males and praise from females for being a "momma's boy. we in Houston think h:'s too s~art :or th~t. "As a champion. Keep outsmarting' em Oscar!"23 Thus. I want to have as few fights as possible and make the most money. He. If de la Hoya ever bled. . e. For ~xampie. Stay clean. If fans don't like that. love of golf." as comedian Paul Rodriguez once described him. d~fining and~lenging dominant representations of boxmg masculini. "I want to be like Sugar Ray Leonard.'?' To Vic Ziegel writing for Playbcry. opene~ . along Wl~ his fans and detractors. if Ihad scars. "Well. I think he got cut one time. expressed his confusion over the reaction of East Los Angeles boxing fans to de lei Hoya. in constructing his own sense of masculine difference de la Hoya chose to emulate the career of an African American.~ he.258 GREGORY RODRrGUEZ BOXING AND MASCULINITY 259 own private bus. IS In a Playboy interview. de la Hoya was "the thinking man's fighter. or cultural syncretism.. The result has been an ethnic Mexican community with rich cultural resources and an increasingly panoramic vision of social change: . Cecilia. and seeming devotion to women and children-cu1tivated what he believed to be the best "heroic ideal" to fit his time and place. painted with his face. in and out of the ring. "Why do so many from Oscar's hometown claim they want to see him take punches? Is that manly?" he asked." He always claimed that the focal point of his inspiration was his mother." leading "some [to] question whether Oscar loves [boxing] that much. raised awareness of new conditions and POSSIbilities for gender identification."ll Some men openly embrac~ de la Hoya's more genteel approach to masculinity inside and outside the ring. They took pleasure in de la Hoya as a "cerebral" boxer. While it is difficult to ascertain to what extent women challenged social conventions in their roles as boxing fans. and they knew it wasn't for them."20 Nonetheless. we can be sure that their enthusiasm for Oscar de la Hoya was unprecedented. be careful and not get hit. the people of the barrio never saw it. was widely viewed as part of a slightly veiled anti-Latino movement. He talks vaguely of becoming an architect. De la Hoya didn't think about such things.

"I am. Then he made the speed bag sound like a machine gun for about 10 minutes. This is like Hoya's unique cast of female supporters. "His every move [was] closely monitored . "In some ways. "I've never seen anything like this. Nobody will ever be able to replace the loss of his mother." \'\lhitaker said at the postfight press conference that was broadcast on the public address system to the thousand or so fans still in the arena. de la Hoya's effect on El Paso. was without precedent. For example. He says sometimes that he has so much now that he wishes his mom had just a tiny part of it. He missed." she noted. A reporter described one such workout: His sisters. "1 hope 1f . In 1995...Z BOXING AND MASCULINITY 261 cancer in 1990. "she was my best friend." Again and again. cover that f a~e. boos from some of their boyfriends. Sometimes when we go to the cemetery.F" In 1998. He has a great left hook and he's gorgeouS. And those judges reacted.I admire you. they screamed. lonely boy in need of mothering that infuriated so many male boxing fans made him an attractive commodity to females. This is beyond boxing. the somewhat faulty logic of becoming a boxer with the hope of preserving one's face was not lost on female fans. truly proud of your suecess. "She was more than my mother. "we love him in our household. where he believed his mother watched over him. Women. In his professional career. We will pay top dollar to see you prance around in white boxers. More polite applause. when he fought Patrick Charpentier. "From all of the sexy fans in west Texas.. Thousands of them who had never even thought of watching boxing were sure they watched de la Hoya. 'Oooooh. proudly announced. Then he lay on his back. For example.. the big city of Odessa. Stories about the ways de la Hoya kept the memory of his mother alive were elaborated in the media by a girlfriend. as he pointed to the female fans who were yelling and screaming and waving as de Ia Hoya sparred a few rounds in the ~g. Sue." Amber wrote. female fans began lavishing praise on de la Hoya as a model of manliness and filial pride. female fans were more critical and ambivalent in their assessments of de la Hoya's chosen profession.F" According to Fred Albers. he met "shrieks of joy from the girls. when he made his way into the ring to fight Genaro Hernandez. They responded with polite applause. "God. Polite applause. As the media hyped the issue of de la Hoya's relationship to his deceased mother. Lorraine. For example. you are a great role model. mllll"33 "You make boxing worth wat chin g. he says. We love you!!!!!! And we will keep you in our prayers always!Jfl34 Another fan. If his mom was around."2!5 During the Olympic Games. Next was a demonstration of high speed rope-jumping. praised de Ia Hoya. They were now playing fundame~tal roles shaping masculinities in boxing as they had always done in their ethnic Mexican families and communities." he claimed with conviction. however. females demonstrated their devotion to de la Hoya because of his sex appeal and his boxing skills. female fans made it known to de la Hoya that they shared his desire that he box and stay "pretty. what is he thinking? Is he talking to her?"26 Portrayals of de la Hoya as a rich."31 The public recognition of female participation in de la Hoya' s ~areer opened space for female fans to be key articulators of the masculine hierarchies taking shape in boxing. she would be his counselor. More polite applause. We are like a little El Paso. friend." wrote Stephanie.. 32 One fan. Finally. Veronica Peralta.GORY RODRIGUE. I think he will always be lonely.If35 Even de la Hoya's opponents began to fear the impact of de . of the local television station KTSM. Good for the circulation. blamed the undue influen~e of women in attendance for his demise. de la Hoya stood on his head in the corner. "Tell you what. "Oscar ought to thank every one of those girls who were screaming for him the whole fight. exclaiming. cousins and aunts seemed startled at the pistol shot-like noise de la Hoya's gloved fists made in the closed gym when he hit trainer Robert Alcazar's sparring mitts. he'll just sit there. especially on the females of the city. Pern~ Whitaker. after each of his victories de la Hoya fell to his knees and blew a kiss toward the sky to let his mother know he was working on keeping his promise to her of winning the gold medal. More polite applause.30 Sports journalist Tim Kawakami offered "~e huge. demographic~ly obvious reason why de la Hoya was sconng the monster box-office numbers. Oscar!' And he never hit me. while Alcazar hammered his stomach with judo chops. on a towel.260 GRE. helper... I wonder." said Albers. Stay sat e. especially by the female population. at the start of his fights de la Hoya stared into the skies."36 At times. Early in his career de la Hoya held special workouts for female audiences. after losing a decision to de Ia Hoya.

According to TIm Kawakami. I could see that right away." she reminisced: [HJewas only 19 and he was a wild one because he used to love to go out. who pressured him to avoid a longterm relationship at any cost. produced a moment in de la Hoya's life when he could have challenged systems of gender domination that he confronted in his everyday life.. brother. _I'm Mexican too.. ''but they pushed her away to keep exploiting him. a fan of de la Hoya. They wanted him alone. don't realize what he really is. and dose advisers.262 GREGORY RODRIGUEZ BOXING AND MASCULINITY 263 to attend one of your fights someday __. I fear for him when you have so much power . I kind of test them. argued that "it is probably true that the only reason you [men] hate him is because every female including myself thinks that he is fine. to elaborate on her critical insights into Oscar and their private lives together." recalled Jesus Rivero. Her interviews made public a particular ethnic Mexican female's prescription of what an ethnic Mexican man ought to be as much as what de Ia Hoya actually was. My father hated her. a former Miss Mexico-Los Angeles. but about making money for themselves and protecting their precious treasure. they're all a bunch of snakes. Only Jesus Rivero. and making money."45 . They didn't care so much about boxing history. it was something he wasn't exposed to before. parasites that surround him.. My brother hated her guts. he explained." he said about his fiancee "and she told me too. He and his father and brother were happy that his new fiancee was not like his old girlfriend. But de laoHoya would capitulate to the wishes of his father. Peralta. the legendary Mexican trainer and mentor to de la Hoya. 'I don't want to be a picture in the news. "1 want her very low profile. I don't'want anybody to know me."45 Swayed by the men in his family. They wanted him up in the mountains and tethered to no one and nothing but themselves. They're thieves.. his female fans. He had to learn how to deal with it. "Man. she passed the teSt. to see if they're inter- ar:ythin_g ested in money . Sometimes. hit the party scene and meet the girls. combined with his instant wealth and popularity. I relate to you in 50 many ways though __. I'm very c~reful about that.. and the social distribution of violence. and I didn't want to belie~e it. One way de la Hoya attempted to prove this was to encourage his onetime girlfriend. Can I ask you a personal question? Do you ever worry that in the long run boxing will do damage to your physical health? Anyway. good luck in the future. 1 tell him "You know what? I don't need you to be king of the ring so you can die on the road. Loretta Barela. tried to keep the young man aware of life's options by pointing out that "changing women. you know. and [automobile dealer and close adviser] Mike Hernandez. and his understanding male friends.."40 In time. "38 We get a real sense from de la Hoya's female fanfare of the important role women play in the reproduction and instantiation of dominant forms of manhood as they engage them in their everyday lives.. his trainer. I love yoU!"37 We cannot be sure de la Hoya' 5 popularity among females is unprecedented in Mexican American boxing history. men's power over women. however. De la Hoya attracted females precisely because he seemed willing to join them in denaturalizing the links between sport. de la Hoya responded. it almost has to be like a hunch. that females have used de la Hoya's career to challenge and debate the meaning of ideal masculinities. de la Hoya now sought out a different kind of partner. [Another thing] I hate that Lamborghini [ofhis] so bad. I think the critics should look at him and see what a real man looks and acts like. And I would always tell Oscar that."'44 When asked how he picke~ his bride-to-be. don't know him when he's lonely. Evidence of this abounds in boxing Web site chat rooms. In 1998.4l "I thought Veronica was magnificent and independent and exactly right for Oscar. They are a bunch of leeches. however. "I remember when I first met him. "loved attention. the champion's male entourage didn't want Oscar to connect with anythlng that could lead him away from his father. He gets 9 percent for every fight. de la Hoya's biographer. when he's sad. Veronica Peralta."39 The influence of his mother. Those girls who go after him . We do know. his girlfriend. Yes. I trunk since he got famous quick and he got rich quick. de 1a Hoya capItulated to the wishes of his father-who never hid his antipathy for Peralta-by breaking off his long-standing relationship with her. like the bees who don't do but eat. for example. when he's depressed. I'm aware of it. His dad is a parasite. I call them sanganos."42 In the fall of 1997 de 1a Hoya became engaged to an eighteen-yearold "virgin" who was willing to stay in the background during his hig~profile endeavors. They would always see what she was trying to do to me. was not like changing c1othes.

He's living everybody'S dream . the breakup boys. such as composure.. because of that group. King Taco. and gait. How many can truly say they'd rather be down with raza doing nothing than enjoying fast cars and fine clothes or playing golf in Cabo? Let's face it. not mine. and finally to Bel Air. I just don't feel welcomed. or males and females who simply aspired to be middle-class. I'm always hiding. de la Hoya has not yet openly embraced a feminist cause for gender equity. eh?"46 But de 1a Hoya's father and brother would eventually reconcile with their partners while de 1a Hoya would not. then to Newport Beach. He was not consciously the champion of women and of working-class men. If I want to go back to my favorite place to eat tacos. On another level. r don't. revealing their own desires for and imagination of middle-class life. They're driving me away. we know that he was the subject of (her)story. I don't see too many Mexican Americans doing commercials." he claimed. we're afraid that Oscar's going to take her away. praised de la Hoya for his assimilation. A number of de la Hoya's actions did not bode well for him in the eyes of fans. During his frequent trips to Cabo San Lucas. breaking off his relationship as he joined the ranks of the other troubled men in his family. always.t? reason so many despise de 1a Hoya is because he has made it. Much of this criticism focused on his treatment of women..A. were always sure to draw criticism. on issues ranging from boxing technique to the business of boxing." Maybe it'll change when I get married. and it'll never change. even among his most adoring fans his golden boy image would tarnish in a short period of time. We're the de la Hoya boys . His moves to Montebello. Because I don't feel welcomed. I don't feel welcomed. Oscar can never be a rich white pretty boy in this country because he's Mexican. then Pasadena. that crowd that has the pretty girlfriend and. His critique of ethnic Mexican boxing masculinity did not make him a true champion of women. where he currently occupies a mansion in Los Angeles's most expensive neighborhood.. There's always going to be that jealousy. 111 stay in the car... I always hide. I'm happy for him. he decided to pursue a bilingual singing career that has yet to materialize into anything other than his self-eroticization and his repeated disparagement in the media and among fans. but only a sexually attractive commodity. but increasingly seen as an icon of middle-class. I just don't feel welcomed. and whose mother he had no intention of marrying.264 GREGORY RODRIGUEZ BOXING AND MASCULINITY 265 In the end de la Hoya would not marry his virgin bride. YOU GO 0SCARJ!!48 H for some de 1a Hoya's masculinity eschewed the signs of the life of struggle by appearing as a conscious removal of the signs of the barrio streets. Although it may seem ridiculous to think that de la Hoya's best legacy was the attraction and elevation of female boxing fans to the level of expert authorities. "I'm scared to go back to East L. "Oh. It's their fault. never. On one level de 1a Hoya's wealth and good looks threatened the work- Unfortunately for de 1a Hoya. at least in the present moment. So I hope my father realizes he's blind. he developed a reputation for carousing and lascivious behavior. Yet it was precisely these female boxing aficionados who would begin launching criticism at de la Hoya that would permanently discredit him. Never. In this way. And it's that younger crowd. It's an ugly feeling. Mexican American masculinity." he claimed. If I'm in a car with a bunch of friends. banter. He drew the ire of loud female fans when he admitted that he fathered a daughter.. He's living my dream. I know it won't. In spite of his intense female following. It's so obvious to any self-respecting East LA Mexican that the only ing-class masculinities of the streets. Some working-class men. Mexico. I'll go anywhere around the world and I'll guarantee you they love me."47 Another fan on the Home Box Office Web site claimed. for others this represented a positive. de la Hoya's signification of the pretensions of middle-class life intensified the tension in his relationship with working-class ethnic Mexicans on the streets of East Los Angeles. I'm not jealous of him. On one of these trips . They're driving me away. Though he dreamed of becoming an actor. Nevertheless. de 1a Hoya was threatened. whom he intended to raise from a distance. "I was blind. de 1a Hoya resonated with the tastes of middle-class ethnic Mexican males and-females. however. Boxing fan Ray Rivera of Monterrey Park explained why he admired de la Hoya: "I'm glad he's doing commercials. uncompromising refusal to conform to the will of others. He can only be a bad ass Mexican American. Maybe they'll respect me then. "My brother was blind-he finally broke up with his girlfriend. Anywhere except East L. and breaks up with [his wife].A. His refusal to fight rematches did not win him the favor of fans.

Golden Boy. Golden Boy. "Have No Fear. I consider Oscar a 'Corporate Fighter. Gutskey. 1. C. 5. "No Cutting de la Hoya Off at El Paso. 6 June 1996. 22. 17. 26. 19." riveraa noted. Julio Cesar Is Here. 24. Julio Cesar Is Here. "riveraa. David R. 2000).. This is attested to in numerous accounts. sec. Tun Kawakami. Ibid. What a man??? ." Los Angeles Times. Kawakami. Kawakami.1999). As one fan. many of which are neatly summarized in Kawakami." 10. 5.' tool That album has more filter than a pack of cigarettes!! Dang. "Boxing's Twister: De la Hoya Has Stormed the Sport. Oscar played it wrong. Kawakami. 2. 20.. NOTES 1. Kawakami. and Maria Herrera-Sobek. cuz he kicked out his living [sic] girlfriend and son [sic lout of his house. C. Kawakami. 30 April. sec. 1 July 1992. "Boxing's Twister. Boxing Fan Forum. Ibid. 6. Chicano Renaissance: Contemporary Cultural Trends (Tucson: University of Arizona Press. Tim Kawakami." Los Angeles Times. 7. 28. Tim Kawakami. Maciel. fighter and person . but himself. Gutskey. "Relative Humility. and Mystery of Oscar de la Hoya (Kansas City: Andrews McM:eel. Oscar de la Hoya's major achievement involved the opening of space for females to disrupt or reinforce stereotypical thinking and to intervene in a realm of masculinity once thought sacrosanct. Golden Bay. 10." Los Angeles Times. 14. c. Vic Ziegal." Los Angeles Times. B.A. Ibid. 278. "Relative Humility." Playboy. sec.220. Oscar de la Hoya Says He's Still Hungry. 24 June 1997. "I heard the single. TlID Kawakami. C. 1.A. Golden Boy." 10. Earl Gutskey. 3. 4." 1..? Not Much de la Hoya Can Do about It. Kawakami. he sent one of his workers to do the job for him." Los Angeles Times. "boxinglady. riveraa!!" responded boxinglady. 6 June 1996. 8. 220-2l. "Relative Humility. 13 June 1998. 27. eds. "Scorn in East LA?" 5. Ibid. Oscar's CD." Los Angeles Times." responding to boxinglady: "The Spanish radio stations are driving me crazy with. Hereafter HBOWCBW. Jim Murray." 15. Golden Boy: The Fame. 12. "Golden Boy. 31 October 1990. C. 29. Karma is like an angry divorced woman looking for alimony. 10. Oscar tried to establish himself as the perfect citizen. 21. 1. C. who is currently pursuing charges against him in court. Kawakami. Golden Boy. what goes around comes around. "Thoughts of Gold in East L."S2 "Ditto. Oscar better watch outl"53 The play of stereotypes such as those above and throughout this chapter should not be understood as merely falsehoods to be corrected.. "Scorn in East L. Jose Angel." Los Angeles Times. 4. Oscar is not worth a penny." 10. 5. Murray. 25. C.. Murray. Jim Murray.llls1 Another fan. sec.."SG Another fan responding to boxinglady noted that de la Heya's "smile [and] charm cannot cover the deficits he always had ." put it. 12 June 1998. sec.. sec. sec. "Golden Boy. 'Ven aMi.. for women a prizefighter's career signifies a great deal more than just boxing. 11. 18. "De la Hoya Doesn't Pull Punches on Education during Visit to School. He is self-centered and does not care about anybody. sec.?" 5. Wake up Americans and Mexicans. 8." Los Angeles Times. Isidro D. but He Plans to Cut a Wider Swath. But he did not speak to her. Steve Springer. 23.sec. "He is. do not waste your time buying a CD from the "fraud master." Los Angeles Times. Although it remains unclear whether or not females have won widespread approval as legitimate boxing experts. he threw out his OWN DAUGHIER? Well. "Scorn in East L. Money. 16. Ibid. precisely the type of person he said he would never be. 1.253. 30. 13. 1995." 116.A. Ziegal.. July 1996. 159. quite clearly. 31. 7 June 1996. 1. . 9. C. 191. 16. "He Doesn't Look Right-Until He Gets in the Ring. The voices we have heard can teach us to think about how stereotypes function to unite and divide communities.. one thing is certain. "He Doesn't Look Right. 2 June 1996. Ortiz.266 GREGORY RODRIGUEZ ·BOXING AND MASCULINITY 267 he allegedly raped a fifteen-year-old female. Earl Gutskey. "$8 Million Later. "Have No Fear. Home Box Office World Championship Boxing Website..

28 September 2000. Riveraa. Kawakami. 12 September 1997.32. 250. 13 June 1998.A. Boxing Fan Forum. 280-81. 46. 33. Javier. HBOWCBW. Lorraine. C. 49. Boxing Fan Forum. The responses of females at any of de la Hoya's Web sites. 39. 28I. 2 October 2000. Boxing Fan Forum. HBOWCBW. Stephanie. HBOWCBW. 40. Amber. Ibid. 28 September 2000. 45. 52. HBOWCBW. HBOWCBW. HBOWCBW. Kawakami.?" 5. 48. . 231. Golden Boy.25O. 44. 11. 13 June 1998. TIm Kawakami. Ibid. "After a Near Tragedy. Golden Boy. 1 October 2000. 10 June 1998. de la Hoya Gets a Reality Check. Ibid. 38. 13 June 1998. 43. or in the discussion fonuns and billboards dedicated to him at the leading sports Web sites. Boxinglady. Golden Boy. HBOWCBW. Ibid." 10. Golden Boy. 275. Boxinglady. Boxing Fan Forum. Kawakami. Loretta.. "Scorn in East L. 42. 47.. 53. Kevnight. a Recent Engagement and the Prospect of Fatherhood. 50. 196. HBOWCBW. HBOWCBW. 13 June 1998. Boxing Fan Forum. 41. prove this point. HBOWCBW.. 13 June 1998. Sue. Kawakami. 36. Boxing Fan Forum. "Boxing's Twister. 34. 37. Kawakami. Kawakami. S1." Los Angeles Times. 35. sec.

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