Full transcript of De La Hoya Univision interview
The following is a complete transcript of Oscar De La Hoya’s Aug. 30 appearance on the Univision show “Aqui y Ahora.” The show aired in Spanish. Univision translated the transcript and provided it to Yahoo! Sports.
Oscar De La Hoya: Obviously, people see me as a champion, what I was, as a gold medalist, a family man.
Show narrator: After a brilliant boxing career, the Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya, seemed to have it all: A happy marriage with a former Puerto Rican singer, Millie Corretjer, with whom he had two children, Oscar Gabriel and Nina Lauren.
He also achieved an impressive boxing record: Six world titles in six different weight categories, and he managed to generate $696 million in profits from his fights on pay-per-view, more money than any other boxer in history.
Univision interviewer Teresa Rodriguez: What do you like remembering the most of your boxing career?
Oscar: The Olympics is what I like to remember the most. The fact that I dedicated it to my mother, may she rest in peace, was a dream come true.
Narrator: De La Hoya is referring to a gold medal he won in Barcelona, Spain, in 1992, soon after he graduated from Garfield High School in East Los Angeles.
Oscar: That medal was the start of it all, in terms of boxing and emotionally. It made me a positive person for the community, for people.
Rodriguez: And what point of your life do you least like to remember?
Oscar: My mother’s death. That death was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.
Narrator: His mother, Cecilia, died from breast cancer when Oscar was 17. Ever since, he has dedicated all his fights to her, his No. 1 fan.
Oscar: She was a fan until the bitter end and now I remember the many fights she went to where she’s screaming, and not screaming, telling me, “Take care,” or “Cover your face,” she’s screaming, “Hit him, knock him out.” [laughs] She was a mother with a strong character, but very loving, and she supported me 100 percent.
Narrator: In 2001, De La Hoya founded Golden Boy Promotions, becoming the first Hispanic American to own a boxer promotions company and opening doors for other young men.
Oscar: To me, it’s very important to follow that tradition and try to find those champions, role models for the next generation.
Narrator: Although he feels very proud of his company and his accomplishments, he admits that he misses the boxing ring.
Rodriguez: Would you go back to the ring?
Oscar: No, never!
Rodriguez: Why not?
Oscar: I love the sport. I love the sport very much, but physically and mentally, I can’t do it.
Narrator: In what was one of the most anticipated fights in his career, in December of 2008, De La Hoya faced off with the man who up until then had been his last challenger.
Oscar: The last fight I had with Manny Pacquiao was like a sign given to me, “Look, it’s time to retire. Your body, your mind are no longer in this.”
Narrator: Pacquiao beat the “Golden Boy” with a technical KO at the beginning of the ninth round, when De La Hoya decided not to return to the ring. After that defeat, the 36-year-old boxer put the gloves aside.
Oscar: It was a very hard life, a life with many sacrifices, a lot of work and a lot of responsibility, a lot of pressure, and I think that I was unable to manage that life on many occasions.
Rodriguez: What goals did you have when you retired in 2009?
Oscar: A healthy, clean life, no problems, having a beautiful family, a satisfying life and, obviously, retiring like a champion. That is what I wanted.
Rodriguez: Do you think losing that match affected you?
Oscar: It didn’t affect me at all. I was already affected. I was already in a different world.
Narrator: According to him, that other world was full of demons.
Oscar: It was my secret. I felt very powerful being alone, being alone, by myself, drinking and doing bad things. I felt very powerful, but at the same time, I was crying and feeling lonely.
Rodriguez: Because perhaps a part of you realized it?
Oscar: I realized it. I have very good values. I come from a very good family, I realized it, but this addiction, this “monster” as we call it, took over me.
Narrator: And with those words, for the first time, the world-boxing champion admits publicly for the first time that he had hit rock bottom and had to seek urgent help.
Rodriguez: Oscar, last May you entered a rehab center voluntarily. What led you to do that?
Oscar: Well, where do I start? First, I want to tell you, and nobody knows this, that I started drinking at 9.
Rodriguez: And why so young?
Oscar: You know that sometimes there are parties that families organize. You go to your uncle’s house, to your cousins’, and the men hang out with the men in the backyard, the women are in the kitchen – which was typical – “Let’s ask Oscarito to go get us a beer from the kitchen” and, well, obviously, I went, opened it, tried a bit. My uncles, nobody said anything, it was a sip, there was nothing wrong with that, and after going 20, 30 times to that refrigerator, well I was already … Nine years old, imagine that.
Narrator: And he remembers how his mother reprimanded him when she saw him inebriated one day.
Oscar: I thought my mom was going to give me a hug, a “Son, are you OK?” But of course, she slapped me, she scolded me with a, “What are you doing?” She hit me and I thought it was going to be the last time, but it wasn’t, and it went on for many years. I started to like it. And it wasn’t that I liked it, but that I needed it.
Since I was an athlete who was already boxing, it wasn’t like I’d drink every day. Once a month, whenever I could, and I could hide it, and that was what my life was like for many years.
Rodriguez: Do you think you sought alcohol because there something missing in your life. Were you missing something?
Oscar: There was a void, obviously. A void that was eating me up inside, and it is the affection, the love a son needs, that a boy needs, from his parents, from his mother.
Narrator: Oscar recognizes that he never recovered from the loss of his mother. It was such a blow that alcohol became a balm for his wounds, robbing him, according to him, of five years as professional boxer.
Oscar: Often I’d cancel fights. Sometimes I’d pretend to be hurt so I wouldn’t have to fight because I was partying, because I needed it. That is what I wanted.
I’d sometimes drink a little tequila to settle the nerves before a fight. You can’t be the greatest athlete in the world doing that kind of thing. You can’t do that. This addiction ruined my life.
Rodriguez: In addition to alcohol, are you addicted to drugs?
Oscar: Let me tell you that.
I would hide to do those things. Nobody knew a thing. I never did it in front of my friends, in front of my family, in front of anybody. That was my secret.
Narrator: Oscar De La Hoya, the so-called “Golden Boy” of boxing, confessed during our exclusive interview that he’s been an alcoholic since he was a child.
Rodriguez: Did you drink every day?
Oscar: Not every day, because, you see, to run a business, to try to be a father, to try to be a husband, it was work I was fed up with, tired of, I was already exhausted, and to go on with the lies.
Narrator: Lies that started to multiply while his empire grew.
Oscar: Partying day in and day out, being with friends, coming home at 3, 4 in the morning and try to go running at 5, 6 in the morning and not sleeping. You can’t function like that and so, at 22, 23, you can do it because you are young, your body can handle it, but now, after 32, I was already noticing a change in my physical condition.
Rodriguez: Due to the alcohol and drugs also, Oscar?
Oscar: Yes, I was involved in drugs, not my whole life, not my whole career. This happened two years ago. I almost died. This addiction is so strong.
Rodriguez: To cocaine?
Oscar: Yes, cocaine, yes, partying, the alleged friends. It was a very bad life, a life in which I didn’t want to think about a thing, I didn’t want to think about my children, my friends, I didn’t want to think about my wife. I just wanted to party, be addicted.
Rodriguez: Did you also try marijuana?
Rodriguez: Other drugs?
Oscar: No other drugs, just cocaine and alcohol.
Narrator: And according to the young promoter and former boxer, his need for both was so strong, that he didn’t mind consuming them anywhere and anytime of the day. It was a habit that landed him in the emergency room of an LA hospital in 2009.
Rodriguez: Was it a cocaine overdose?
Oscar: Yes, for alcohol, not sleeping, until yes, I ended up at the hospital.
Rodriguez: What did they tell you when you arrived at the hospital?
Oscar: You know? They didn’t say a thing to me. (They asked0 “Are you tired?” I know they were covering it up. At that time I was not going to say a thing, I’d react like, “Give me some medicine to recover and keep going.”
Rodriguez: Did your friends take you?
Oscar: I don’t want to say they were friends. I only have one friend. But they were people who supposedly wanted to help me.
Rodriguez: But they saw that you were in such bad shape that they decided to take you to the hospital or was it a decision of yours, where you said, “No, I don’t feel well.”
Oscar: It was my decision.
Narrator: The parties went on until last May, when he realized that he couldn’t continue down that path.
Oscar: I could no longer control it and I swear to you that I was going to end up dying or going to jail.
Narrator: De la Hoya remembers vividly the night he decided to check himself in and seek professional help.
Oscar: I left work and, well, I had obviously drank too much and I talked to Millie that night at about 12, 1 a.m., I was talking to her, crying, with a tequila bottle in hand, well, crying and telling her, “I don’t know why I’m doing this, I don’t know,” and she said, “Look, let’s stay on the phone, throw the bottle away,” and I remember I threw the bottle on the street.
Narrator: And he says that his wife, Millie, stayed on the phone until his driver brought him home.
Oscar: I went into another room to sleep and the next morning, the next morning Millie was on the stairs and I went towards her and told her, “You know? It’s over. I can’t do this anymore.” I was so tired of asking her to forgive me, so many times, that I didn’t even say anything to her. I just said, “I’m leaving. I’m going to do it for myself and because I have to do it,” and I left that day.
Narrator: After that, he checked himself into a well-known rehab center in California. These exclusive images captured by the “El Gordo y la Flaca” cameras went public and showed a defeated champion, like he’d been seen in few occasions.
Oscar: I remember that when I went into that center in Malibu, the first few days I didn’t want to be there. I was regretting being there – the addiction was talking to me – that monster that always waited outside my door was talking to me. It was talking to me and I was lost.
Narrator: With great effort, he managed to resist those voices and went on with rehab.
Rodriguez: What were those sessions like?
Oscar: The first few days it was what they call detox, so you can rest. They give you a lot of medicine so you can sleep and then, after three or four days, the process starts.
Narrator: According to De La Hoya, there are specialists from different fields, who during conversations help you understand how an addiction works, and how to try to defeat it.
Rodriguez: How long were you in rehab?
Oscar: It is a 30-day program and I stayed there another three weeks, because I thought I wasn’t ready. I was afraid of stepping out those doors because I was so secure in that center.
Rodriguez: Yes, because you were in a controlled environment.
Oscar: Controlled, an environment, I don’t know, like what it feels to be in heaven, very peaceful, where everybody really wants to be your friend and wants what’s good for you.
Narrator: He explains that he had limited contact with his family, particularly Millie.
Oscar: I talked to Millie and said, “Look, I’m OK.” This program really works, I want to do it, and after a while she was very happy, you could hear it in her voice that she was very happy that I was doing that.
Narrator: However, the steps that led him to this left in Millie, his current wife, a wound that Oscar is trying to heal with love, gentleness and good deeds.
Rodriguez: Are you very much in love with her?
Oscar: I’m very much in love with her. She is the love of my life. She – there is no other woman, I can’t even think of one – is the love of my life and I love her with all my heart.
Narrator: He recognizes that in addition to the alcohol and drug abuse, there were other women in his life.
Oscar: My wife suffered, I made her suffer very much.
Narrator: Oscar De La Hoya has faced many challenges and now admits that he is going through his toughest battle yet as he tries to leave behind the shadow of addiction and earn back the love and trust of many people he hurt, primarily his wife.
Rodriguez: How many times were you unfaithful to Millie?
Oscar: I don’t want to talk about the details, but it was more than once.
Rodriguez: Oscar, there’s also a lot of talk about Tiger Woods and his sex addiction. Did you reach that point?
Oscar: I didn’t reach that point, but I was unfaithful to my wife, Millie. But I do want to take this opportunity to say, look, please forgive me because we were – I don’t want to say that we are OK. Millie is a good person and I’m very sorry I did that to her.
Rodriguez: Was there a time when she said, “Choose continue down that path or I’m leaving?”
Oscar: Sure, she said that to me. We separated for a while. I still went over to my house, obviously, to see my children. We were trying to handle it well so it wouldn’t affect our children.
Rodriguez: How long were you separated?
Oscar: It was more or less two years, a year-and-a-half. We’re here in California and I had another place where I was staying.
Rodriguez: Did she ever propose getting divorced?
Oscar: Yes, to the point that she already had lawyers, she was ready, but she believes strongly in God, she believes strongly in marriage, and, thank God, I ended up with a woman like her.
Narrator: De la Hoya doesn’t hesitate to admit that he regrets the pain he caused her.
Oscar: My wife suffered. I made her suffer quite a bit, and quite frankly, I’m very thankful that she stayed by my side because I know that any other woman would have left, but she believes in marriage and that’s important.
Rodriguez: Are you going to therapy?
Oscar: Yes. We are going to therapy, I’m going to therapy on my own, and she is going to therapy by herself, and we are going to therapy together. It’s not easy, because I need to make an effort every day to show her that I want this life with her, you understand, every day.
Rodriguez: Do you feel you have failed your family?
Oscar: Yes, I have failed my family a lot, my family who loves me very much. But my family is already seeing, is already noticing a difference in me.
Narrator: The former champion says that he wants to leave behind what he started on September of 2007.
Oscar: Let me tell you that it started when there was a scandal about a woman and I several years ago.
Rodriguez: Was it that famous photo in which you are wearing women’s lingerie?
Rodriguez: What happened with that? But also, was it you or was it fake?
Oscar: Let me tell you, yes, it was me. I’m tired of lying, lying to people, lying to myself.
Rodriguez: In that photo, Oscar, were you under the influence of alcohol and cocaine?
Oscar: Alcohol and cocaine. Yes, both. Yes, and it was the first time I used it, and the drugs were not like alcohol. For me, I know I need alcohol more than drugs, and so, but I got into very bad things.
Rodriguez: Were you out of control?
Oscar: I was reaching that point where I could no longer control it.
Rodriguez: Did you get to the point where you didn’t want to keep on living?
Oscar: Yes. One of those nights when I was drunk and I was alone again. I asked myself, is it worth to be alive? I was already feeling like I had nothing, and what is going through your mind are your children, your wife, the people who love you and were strong. I thought about it. I’m not capable of doing something like that, but I did think about it. I did think about it.
Narrator: He recognizes, however, that the addiction was stronger and was leading him to an overindulgent life, including parties with exotic dancers.
Oscar:There were women, there were drugs, there was alcohol. Yes, it’s all true and I’m telling you that it was. I’m starting to remember everything because now I can think clearly and it was not fun, none of it. It wasn’t even fun.
Narrator: At a time of family and personal crisis, his addiction also started to affect his business decisions. Last March, Golden Boy Promotions signed an agreement with a well-known tequila brand in what promised to be an excellent opportunity for both companies to make millions of dollars. De la Hoya, recognizing that his well-being was at stake took action.
Oscar: I got rid of the company. And let me explain to you what this addiction, this “monster” is like. I partnered up with a tequila company, knowing that I’m an alcoholic. Understand? That’s how strong it is.
Narrator: He had become an ambassador for that brand.
Oscar: Yes, it was truly a good deal, but now that I’m seeing things more clearly, I didn’t get rid of it without thinking it twice, and it was the right thing to do. How can I lead a clean, healthy life while I’m partnered with a tequila company?
Rodriguez: When was the last time you drank?
Oscar: I do not regret. I cannot regret what I lived because now I honestly feel as if I’d been born again.
Narrator: A new Oscar De La Hoya. That’s how the former boxer describes himself, since he states that his life no longer depends on alcohol and cocaine.
Oscar: I’m now living one day at a time. I feel good. I feel better than ever before.
Rodriguez: How long has it been since your last drink?
Oscar: It’s been 109 days.
Rodriguez: And without using cocaine?
Oscar: 110 days.
Narrator: It is with this conviction that De La Hoya faces life from now on. The Mexican-American athlete fell in love with Puerto Rican Millie Corretjer 11 years ago when she was still a singer. After she got married, Millie left music behind to devote herself exclusively to her family.
Rodriguez: Five years ago when we sat down to talk, you told me that she might get back on stage once the kids were older.
Oscar: She wants to go back. She adores and loves her fans and her music a lot. Obviously now she’s a mother, a wife 100 percent and no longer thinks of anything other than her children and her husband. Obviously, given what we’re going through, it’s very difficult to say if she’ll go back or not, because we are fighting for, we’re working hard on our marriage.
I married her 10 years ago, October 5, and our anniversary is coming up, and I want to be with her until I die, very old, a happy old couple, and see this experience not as a bad experience but as a good experience, because it changed my life in order to be a better person, to be a better father, a better husband.
Rodriguez: And does she love you, Oscar?
Oscar: She loves me very much. She doesn’t have to say it to me, but I see it in her eyes and now, for the first time, she is going to see it in my eyes, that I love her very much.
Narrator: At home, their children, Oscar Gabriel, 5 years old, and Nina Lauren, 3 years old, are who make them both happy …
Oscar:Oscar Gabriel is like his mother and Nina is like her father. With Nina Lauren I’m going to pay for my sins. Nina Lauren is very young, she’s three. Every day when she gets up she wants me to put her princess dress on her. Her closet has some 40 princess dresses, one for I don’t know how many days. Oscarito Gabriel is very affectionate, very sentimental and like his mother. He worries about everything, worries about everything – “Mom, Why this? Mom, Dad.” He’s always asking questions. They’re two beautiful children, and it’s beautiful to live with them and be with them every day.
Rodriguez: Your face even brightens up quite a bit when you talk about them!
Oscar: The thing is, they’re great. One minute they may be fighting and the next they’re best friends, kissing and hugging. The fact is, they are the loves of my life.
Narrator: Oscar has three other children who don’t live with them, from previous relationships, Jacobo, 13, Atiana, 7, and Devon, 9.
Rodriguez: Have you told your other kids about your problems?
Oscar: No, not about my problems.
Rodriguez: Do they know?
Oscar: They do know. It’s a difficult process, it’s a process in which I must sit down with my son, Jacobo and my daughter, Atiana, Devon, and tell them, look, first of all, I’m sorry, I’m sorry for not being there for you, but I’m here now and I love you very much, with all my heart. I don’t know how I’m going to react with that or how am I going to do it, but I have to do it and I’m going to do it.
Rodriguez: How is your relationship with them, Oscar?
Oscar: My relationship with my son, Jacobo, is good. He’s almost taller than I am, and he’s not going to be a boxer, he is going to be a baseball player.
Narrator: Regarding his other two children, de la Hoya recognizes that he needs to get closer to them.
Oscar: There has been little communication with them and, like I told you, I need to sit down with them and explain to them why their father has not been part of their lives.
Rodriguez: Some say that some cases of alcoholism can be hereditary in part – In your family, as far as you know, were there any alcoholics?
Oscar: Yes, you make a good point because as a matter of fact, this worries me a lot, but they also explain that at the Malibu center. You must not expose your kids to that, you must no longer drink in front of them, you must not tell them, “Hey, look, buy me a beer at the store or grab me a beer from the refrigerator.” I can talk to them, I can educate them. That is what I can do as a father and pray that they don’t turn out like me.
Narrator: Many members of the media have tried to ask De La Hoya for details about his problem, but the champ decided to keep silent for a long time, up until now.
Rodriguez: Why is it that you now want to tell the world what happened to you?
Oscar: Well, because I feel capable of talking to the public honestly about what I’m feeling. Look, obviously I could have chosen not to talk about it and go on with my life as if nothing had happened, but it was very important to talk about it. Because, first, for my wife and my family, and I think, the public, to explain to them, to educate them about how this works, to tell them that I’m going to be OK.
Narrator: He says he doesn’t want to disappoint his fans and betray his roots.
Oscar: Now, careful, careful, because we’re going to work, we’re going to fight, we’re going to keep working for what is Latino, I’ve always done that. It’s a personal goal that we, Latinos, excel in this country, which is very important.
Narrator: He swears that behind all this effort, he still feels the presence of his deceased mother, Cecilia, and her lessons.
Oscar: I thank my Mom for watching over me. I feel that she’s watching over me.
Rodriguez: How do you think she would have reacted to this news?
Oscar: First, I think what I went through would not have gotten to this point. I had a good relationship with my mom. I was very close to her. She scolded me a lot, she knew me better than anyone else, and she would have taken me down the right path.
Rodriguez: Do you feel that a weight has lifted off you?
Oscar: A very big weight.
Narrator: Nowadays, Oscar De La Hoya devotes a great deal of his time and energy to his company, Golden Boy Promotions. His priority is to search for new boxing talent and manage their careers.
Rodriguez: What attributes are you looking for in a young boxer?
Oscar: For him to be a good person, a healthy person, a clean person, hardworking, with a close family, but you must also recognize that he must know how to fight.
Rodriguez: Are you looking for Mexican talent, Latino talent or not?
Oscar: If they’re American, it doesn’t matter where they’re from. Part of me and my heart is watching Mexicans, Latinos.
Narrator: Proudly, De La Hoya points out that his company is now promoting several young men with lots of potential.
Oscar: His name is “El Canelo” Álvarez, Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez, from Mexico. People have that desire of seeing him become a world champion and represent the Latino people, and he’s going to do it.
Narrator: Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez, who aspires to be a champ, is 20 years old.
Oscar: Many people say that it’s too soon, many people say it’s time, but instinct tells me that perhaps in six or nine months, he’ll be ready for the best in the world.
Narrator: And although it’s not the Golden Boy who trains them, he does guide them professionally.
Oscar: Every once in a while I want to get into a ring and teach them a few moves, a few combinations, but I believe that’s not my role and obviously, I’m not in shape to do it, especially with these youngsters.
Rodriguez: What are the three most important pieces of advice that you offer future champions?
Oscar: The first piece of advice is one that they always remain humble and, obviously, that they not forget where they came from, their roots. And I believe that perhaps, the most important thing, and it’s a problem not only for boxers but for many athletes, for many celebrities, is drinking. Stay healthy. If you’re an athlete, you must focus and work and lead a clean life.
Rodriguez: How hard will it be for you to live in an environment in which you know there will be alcohol, there will be drugs?
Oscar: Manny Pacquiao, Vargas, Mayweather, Mayorga, all of them combined in one ring, fighting against them, I can knock them all out, but this addiction is going to be the toughest fight of my life.
Narrator: He recognizes that it will be a big challenge, although he says he has an action plan.
Oscar: As long as I don’t drink at all, don’t use any drugs, stick to my program to be clean, I’ll have a brilliant life, a happy life. That is what I want.
Narrator: At this time he is preparing for two very important fights on September 17 …
Oscar: We have Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez fighting in Los Angeles Staples Center, and Mayweather and Ortiz in Las Vegas.
Narrator: He’s referring to Mexican-American boxer Victor Ortiz, whom he represents.
Rodriguez: Macho Camacho was in this program “Mira Quién Baila”
Oscar: I can just see Macho Camacho dancing. He must be a clown. [Laughs] Two left feet! [Laughs]
Rodriguez: Do you even dare to be part of a television competition? [Laughs]
Oscar: I’d first go back to the ring. Never!
Narrator: Obviously, dancing is not his priority, but what is very much on his mind is the commitment to his family, saving his marriage, being a model father and focusing on his business with a clear mind.
Rodriguez: How different is the Oscar De La Hoya who went into a rehab center in May from the one sitting in front of me today?
Oscar: Oh! Night and day. I feel as if somebody up there has given me a second chance in my life, and this time I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to use it well to become the best person I can be. It’s a daily struggle. One day at a time, like preparing for a fight that never ends.
The official Yahoo! Sports boxing Twitter page is live. Follow @YahooSportsBOX