You don’t have to be a boxing aficionado or even a fan — which I’m not — to be intrigued by the recent news about Oscar De La Hoya and his self-professed battle with alcoholism. The Golden Boy has apparently been battling his inner desire to drink and do drugs for quite some time now, and according to him, it was time to stop living the lie and come clean about his disease. Doing so has clearly helped De La Hoya start down the road to recovery — you can hear it in his voice. Whether he stays on the wagon (or is it off the wagon?) remains to be seen, but best of luck to him in his recovery.
De La Hoya joined ESPN Radio Los Angeles to talk about coming clean about his alcohol and drug related addictions, why he chose to share those personal struggles with the world, how he believes his career would have been longer and more successful had he not been drinking, when he took his first drink, how he’d drink while training for important fights, the shocking photo of him in fishnets that surfaced of him on the web, and how he’s content with his work running Golden Boy Promotions to stay focused on beating his disease.
On the news he just broke about his personal battle with alcohol and drugs:
“It was actually big news to myself, big news to a lot of people all over the world — even non-sports fans. I came out with the truth, all the secrets and lies I was living with all these years with my alcohol addiction and recently with my drug addiction. And I wasn’t afraid to say it; I kind of had to say it. Therefore I feel much better, I feel relieved, I just feel pure, I feel honest, I feel I can just look into your eyes and talk to you and not feel any shame. I’ve been dealing with my problem — my alcoholism — for many, many years at a young age. I’m just glad I did it. I’m glad I did it because I can now live life.”
On what prompted him to go public with this news:
“Well the fact that it’s kind of like I had this 800 pound gorilla on my back, and I felt so good about myself after I did it. I checked myself into a program for two months, so it was just something I had to do because nobody talks about this, even people who have this problem. There’s millions and millions of people who live under a rock with this problem, and I just felt that I had to do it. I had to do it because enough is enough because this is affecting so many people; it’s like people are dying from this. You hear all these stories about celebrities with this and that and problems, and even normal people with just tons of problems — I just had to do it and I feel so much better.”
Does he think his career would have been even more successful had he not been drinking like he was for so many years:
“Oh, absolutely. First of all, my first drink was at eight years old and it’s a disease that’s haunted me forever, and it still haunts me and it’s going to continue to haunt me.”
Was he drinking during training camps leading up to important fights?
“Oh absolutely. The training kind of controls my cravings, but still I had to have that one glass of wine after training, or those two glasses of wine after a training camp or after a training day. Yeah, absolutely, it was a big problem. I’m glad it’s over. I do realize it probably shaved off four or five years from my boxing career.”
On the pictures of him in fishnets and how those came to be:
“Well let’s just put it this way — and I’ve talked about this already and people know — but let’s just put it this way: when you’re drunk, when you’re not thinking straight, when you’re doing drugs, you do stupid things. And obviously that’s what happened to me. And like I said, there’s no more lies, there’s no more secrets, I’m an open book now. People when they drink, people when they do drugs, they do stupid things. And obviously that’s what I did.”
If his work running Golden Boy promotions is enough to keep him distracted from his disease:
“Now that I’ve found help I have no void whatsoever to fulfill. Obviously I still have the drive, I still have the energy, and I still have those big goals that I want to accomplish. My first goal obviously is to grow the sport as much as I can, to help the sport as much as I can. But, yeah, now that I’ve gotten my health and I have to continue to fight — this is the toughest fight of my life — forget about Pacquiao, Mayweather, and Hopkins and all those guys. You can throw all those guys into one ring and they wouldn’t be even as tough as what this disease is; this is the toughest fight of my life. So as long as I continue doing what I’m doing and helping myself and thinking about myself first, I can really be the person that I am — or that I was — when I was 12, 13, 14 years old. So it’s just a matter of living one day at a time, so that’s what I’m going to continue doing.”
Listen here to De La Hoya with Max & Marcellus on ESPN Radio LA (interview begins at 10:00 mark)