American Son: My Story

American Son: My Story

by Oscar De La Hoya, Steve Springer


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From Oscar De La Hoya, one of the most celebrated fighters in the history of boxing, comes a frank and touching memoir about achieving the American Dream: his rise to the top, the power of a solid work ethic, his mother's painful death from cancer, the pitfalls of stardom, and a very personal take on what it means to be an American

The son of Mexican-born parents, Oscar "The Golden Boy" De La Hoya has had an astonishing career. From boxing to business, from the recording industry to the charitable accomplishments of his foundation, his success is a testament to what one can achieve in the United States. But who is this man who has changed the lives of so many? Who has imprinted a positive mark upon the sport of boxing, for which many have all but given up hope? Who has become a symbol of success for an entire community, without many heroes to call their own?

American Son answers these questions.

Born into a boxing family, De La Hoya has defeated more than a dozen world champions and won six world titles as well as an Olympic gold medal—a moment forever marked in the memory of anyone who has followed his career. Yet within the maelstrom of this success lay a man whose earnest belief in the goodness of everyone around him sometimes led him to stray far from his intended path. This book is The Golden Boy, and he bares his most heartbreaking mistakes as well as his most stunning triumphs for all of the world to see.

This thrilling tale of an immigrant's son—a quintessentially American story—is the chronicle of an amazing journey that will provide readers with new insight into the private life of afigure who has to many reached iconic status.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061573125
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/28/2009
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 531,701
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Oscar De La Hoya is one of the most beloved athletes in America and one of the greatest boxers of all time. He was born in Los Angeles and now divides his time between Puerto Rico and southern California.

Oscar De La Hoya es uno de los deportistas más queridos de Estados Unidos, y uno de los mejores boxeadores de todos los tiempos. Nació en Los Ángeles, y ahora reparte su tiempo entre Puerto Rico y el sur de California.

Steve Springer is the author of five books, including two bestsellers, and has been a journalist for more than thirty years, the last twenty-five with the Los Angeles Times.

Steve Springer es el autor de cinco libros, incluyendo dos bestsellers, y ha sido periodista por más de 30 años—los últimos 25 han sido con el Los Angeles Times. Es ganador del Nate Fleischer Award, un gran logro profesional y honor otorgado por el Boxing Writers' Association of America. Actualmente vive en Los Ángeles con su familia.

Read an Excerpt

American Son

Chapter One

A Promise Made

What mother wants her son to be a fighter?

But considering that my grandfather Vicente was a fighter, my father, Joel, was a fighter, and my older brother, Joel Jr., was briefly a fighter, we had no choice but to be fighters. When I say "we," I'm talking about my mother and me.

We were a team.

She learned to love the sport. She'd go to my fights and overcome her fear that I was going to get hurt.

When I was in the sixth grade at Ford Boulevard Elementary School, my class was asked to write an essay on what we wanted to be when we grew up. We then had to get up and read our assignment aloud. Kids said they wanted to be doctors, policemen, firemen.

I got up and said I wanted to be an Olympic gold medalist in boxing. The class burst into laughter. They thought I was kidding. One kid said, "Yeah, right, you're from East L.A. How are you going to be a gold medalist?"

The teacher thought I wasn't taking the assignment seriously, so she punished me by keeping me after class.

I started crying, telling her, "I'm not kidding. That's what I want to be."

When I was twelve, I had this poster from the Olympic Games...I don't even remember where I got it...and I signed it Oscar De La Hoya, '92 Olympic Gold.

I still have that poster today.

Around my family, that became the goal: Oscar goes to the Olympics.

Whatever my goal, it became my mother's goal as well.

When I would go running in the morning, she would get up with me to make me a little breakfast before I left. That meant having something on the table before I went racing out the door at4:30 A.M.

When my amateur career started to take off, I began to get noticed in the neighborhood. I remember being so excited because my name started to appear in our small local paper. No picture. No real story. Just an occasional line saying I had qualified for a tournament or won a trophy or knocked some guy out. To me, however, it was like being on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

I told my mother about it and she was thrilled for me, but it was kind of sad because she didn't read English and those references to me were only in English-language papers.

She didn't need to speak English to be my number one cheerleader. Her Spanish served her just as well. She was my inspiration even before I saw her fight a battle that was much tougher than anything I ever faced in the ring.

I didn't find out she had breast cancer for a while after she was diagnosed.

I remember I had come home from school...I was seventeen at the time...and my mother came up to me in our living room, crying, and gave me a big hug. She was trying to hold it in and be strong.

I said to her, "What's going on? What's wrong?"

Instead of answering, she asked me if I could apply some cream, from a jar she had in her hand, to her back. I scooped up a handful of the cream and reached down under her shirt to spread it across her back.

It was then that I felt something rough, like a scab. Her whole back was like that.I said, "What's this?"

She hugged me again and now I'm crying.

She said three words I will never forget: "I have cancer."

I have never been hit harder in my life.

I started hugging her through my tears and telling her it was going to be okay. All of the emotion that had been missing in our household burst free. I told her we were going to get through this. I believed it.

Obviously, I wasn't educated about the disease and she had been very effective in keeping things from us. She wore wigs or hats to hide the fact that her hair had fallen out.

One time, when I finally noticed she had no hair, she said she had shaved it so it would grow back thicker.

My mother had been a heavy smoker. She would send me to buy cigarettes when my father wasn't around. Every two or three days, she'd tell me she needed more. I remember she smoked Kent cigarettes and they cost $1.05 a pack.

As time went on, my mother was getting worse and worse. And the doctors weren't being very positive about her condition.

At that point I decided to quit boxing, hang it up. I felt like I couldn't do it anymore even though the Olympics were less than two years away.

My mother spent her final days in the hospital, where I would visit her every day.

There was one time she didn't even recognize me. I walked into her hospital room, filled with relatives and friends, and she said, "Who is this person? What are you doing here?"

I told her, "It's me. It's your son."

I turned, walked down the hallway, and had a good cry. I knew it was the medication and her worsening condition that were causing the mental lapses, but it still hurt deeply. Especially because she knew everybody else in the room.

When next I saw her, that sparkle of recognition was back in her eyes. We held each other and cried together.

One day we were together five, six hours, even enjoying a few rare laughs. It was then I noticed that on the finger where she normally had her wedding ring, she was wearing a ring with a little diamond in it, a championship ring I had won in the bantamweight division at the 1989 National Golden Gloves tournament.

It was the first championship I had won on a national level, but to my mother, it was like a world championship. Her son had achieved success in a world she couldn't imagine. How much additional joy would she have gotten out of putting my gold medal around her neck, or seeing me win professional championships in six weight classes? At least she had the thrill of wearing that ring.

American Son. Copyright © by Oscar De La Hoya. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents

Preface     xiii
A Promise Made     1
A Promise Kept     7
The Cleanest Window in Mexico     23
My Last Fight, at Age Four     27
Comback at Six     31
Food Stamps and Muggers: Life in the Hood     37
My Roots     53
Tacos at Dawn     59
Noise Monitor for Budweiser     73
Shysters on My Doorstep     77
Neon Warrior     85
Starving for Recognition     99
The Men in my Corner     107
The Biggest Bra I Ever Saw     119
Chavez: The Myth and the Man     125
Straddling the Border     135
Anguish to Rage     143
Searching for Love     153
Tito     161
Shooting for the Moon     167
Enter Richard Schaefer     177
Losing the Gold     193
Burned     203
Golden Boy Takes on the Big Boys     211
The Love of My Life     223
My Guardian Angel     237
Cashing in My Chips: A Gambler Reforms     245
More Men in My Corner     249
Baring My Soul     259
Acknowledgments     267

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American Son: My Story 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For some the struggle is real. You keep moving towards that goal and things fall in place.
AnabellesMommy More than 1 year ago
Already being a HUGE Oscar De La Hoya fan, I seen this book, and had to have it! Even though I like him before, I now LOVE him. I have a much bigger respect for him. VERY good read....even if you don't like him, you'll have a whole new outlook and respect for him by the time you are done with this book!
Kristina_Osborne14 More than 1 year ago
Oscar de la Hoya is a man of many achievements. One was his book, the American Son. In this book Oscar explains how a boy of four years old, being scared of being punched by his seven year old cousin at a cookout, to a man known all over the world. I found this book to be moving in some ways. In the beginning of the book Oscar talks about being in his teens, and his mom being diagnosed with breast cancer. She soon passed away, and that¿s when Oscar thought he would not be able to fight because he felt he wasn¿t strong enough without her there, cheering him on. I felt like I could relate to him because when I was only nine my dad passed away, thinking I couldn¿t go on, or I didn¿t know how to live on without him. I soon discovered, like Oscar did, that your lost ones are always going to be in your heart, cheering you on, and being there when you need them; maybe not beside you but always in your heart. Another thing I enjoyed is that about in the middle of the book they show pictures of Oscar either fighting or with his family. I liked this because it gave me an image of what he looked like and to notice how hard he fought every match. Oscar I think is a great role model for kids. This is because he never gives up and keeps trying. When he gets pushed down he always rises up again. Oscar¿s book the American Son explains how to live life to the fullest and never give up, and that¿s why I liked this book. I felt that this book did have only a couple of downs to it. One thing that I noticed was in each chapter he tells about every fight he¿s ever had. I feel that he told too many stories of boxing and not enough on how he had his own fundraisers and such. Another thing I picked up on was that Oscar only really recognized his Hispanic back ground in one chapter. He did refer to it a couple times in the beginning, but I don¿t think he spoke enough of it throughout the rest of the book. I feel that¿s about it that I didn¿t really like about the book because I think over all it was pretty good. I highly recommend this book to anyone. It talks about a man, Oscar de la Hoya, and how he became known to the world. This was a really good book and felt like I knew Oscar personally. Therefore, I rate it about a 9.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I am and 18 year old whose currently reading this book and i gotta say Oscar did a wonderful job in providing such detail that to me are pictures in my mind! His title caught my attention and i gotta say it was worth it.He went through so much but to be what he is right now took a lot of effort and overcame so many obstacles like the loss of his mom at his age of 17 and her age of 39...those were the pages that caught my attention and made me cry...!!! Overall 'American Son' is such an extraordinary and inspiring book no doubt about it
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the first chapter and i couldnt stop my self from crying. You can tell that oscar put alot of emotion and got personable in his book. I recommend it everyone that has watched oscar fight in the past, this book will make you feel like you are connected to him in a personal level. Also understand his position in achieving his 'American Dream' even in the most devatating of moments he was forced to go threw.