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Jorge's Corner
The Voice of Boxing in Central and Northern California

Oscar De La Hoya vs Felix Strum

Las Vegas Nevada
June 5, 2004

Anyone who watched Oscar De La Hoya get his ass kicked by Felix Strum was a witness to what happens when advisors are afraid to be honest and just say what they think the boss wants to hear. Oscar’s habit of using people like toilet tissue has made those around him afraid to be honest.  They know how easily he flushes people.  How many coaches, trainers, fighters, etc. has he used, and then discarded?  One hundred, or was is one thousand?  We may never know, now it appears his indifference has come back to haunt him. Ronald Reagan said, “How we are remembered depends on how we keep our rendezvous with destiny”.  He might have also said, “we are remembered by who our friends are”.   “We are remembered by how we treat people”. “We are remembered by the kindness we displayed towards others”.  Oscar’s fight left a mighty unpleasant.  Oscar now also has a clothing line. After personally viewing his clothes, I gotta say, it looks like he purchased excess generic brand name sports wear form K-Mart, put his name and number on it, marked it up a thousand percent, then sent it to Mervyns. His clothing line is cheap, poorly designed and will probably make a profit. Hopefully, it will finally fill the emptiness in his life.  And his endless desire for riches.   There was another man with a golden touch, at least in fables. King Madias, a king with a magical golden touch, who accidentally turned his daughter into gold, thereby making a statue of someone he loved. The man died alone, surrounded by other greedy men, and lots of money. 

Oscar’s closet is stacked with skeletons of the hundreds of people he¹s used, pushed aside on just simply stepped on. I met his first coach years ago. To his credit, the man, a well-respected coach, never uttered a word of criticism about the Golden Boy. Even though Oscar used him to learn his trade, then dumped him. There have been many such individuals, but in Oscar’s defense, he can always hide behind that worn out phrase “its only business”. It would be considered normal business, especially in boxing. To take the knowledge, which has taken someone a lifetime to acquire, absorb it, then discard the person who shared it with you, is normal in boxing. Old gyms are filled with the ghosts of coaches who gave their lives to boxing and were rewarded with betrayal, and discarded once their fighter got a taste of money, glory and the extra benefits of being a champion.  That¹s boxing in a nutshell, a sad by true statement. 

My observations after an interaction with Oscar are that he is as phony as a three-dollar bill. He is a gifted performer who uses his appearance and boyish charm to accomplish his objectives.  He is a well-rehearsed, practiced actor, capable of playing the role of promoter, businessman, or any other he chooses.  Any business student could not find fault in such behavior, after all, you¹er suppose to use the gifts God gives you. To bad Oscar never the meaning of other values. Things like loyalty, dedication, and an obligation to repay all the people who helped him along the way. The tendency to abuse people is not traits normally associated with the ideal of hero. My question has always been the same of people who have risen from obscurity and poverty, “when did you change”, or was it that the veneer was simply fell off when having money become normal.  As disturbing as this trait is, it is not uncommon.  I have a brother who dropped the e z from his name, in order to make himself Whiter.  I am still stunned by his self-loathing and auto discrimination. A trait not often spoken off amongst Chicano scholars.  Now he refuses to speak to any Mexican members of the family. I avoid interacting with him and it matters little to me that he abandoned his family, culture and heritage.  I don¹t pay a lot of attention to what he does anymore.   I’ve learned that indifference is the opposite of love, not hate.   If it’s true we reap what we sow, if its true that what goes around, comes around? Then, there may be a few more disappointments in store for the Golden Boy, who uses people with the indifference of a third world tyrant. 

Oscar may not be a great human being, he may not even be a nice guy, but what ever else Oscar may or may not be, he is still a great attraction.  Me I think Oscar is bored, too rich and is surrounded by people who only see him as a dollar sign. They care more about what he is worth o them, rather than as human being.  AS a sportswriter gives I come across bits of information, which give me doubt about Oscar¹s honesty.  I also have to wonder what the hell he must be thinking. Does he really believe he can beat Hopkins?  And what are his trainers thinking? Who in the hell did they get to spar with him in preparation for the Strum fight? They couldn¹t have been hungry boxers looking for a real shot. Anyone who saw the fight saw that Strum¹s punches were rocking Oscar, who looked as pale as a flower tortilla and as fat as a bean burrito, compared to Strum who looked like one of the warriors in the movie Troy. He reminded me of Ben Affleck, only Strum was no turkey and Oscar didn¹t gable, gable. 

Even before the first bell, Oscar who flashed his boyish smile and posed so expertly for the camera seemed to lack the spark he usually possess.  He looked more like a late-night store clerk, rather than a warrior about to enter combat.  Maybe he should give up Puerto Rican food and come back to good old Mexican cooking.  Or maybe being married to a Latin Pop singer, something he failed at, has robbed him of the desire to fight for the mere pleasure of fighting. Winston Churchill once said “this is not the end, it is not even the middle of the being, it is however the being of the end”. I believe we have witnessed the end of an era.  As a sportswriter who has spent hours watching, writing and reporting on Oscar’s career, it brings me no pleasure to watch him crumble.  I personally would have preferred to watch him use his millions to take up acting, producing or promoting.  I would like to see him do something for boxing, not just exploit his position and keep taking, until time takes him.   I have no desire to watch Hopkins knock the a man I once admired and respected. I would not hold my breath, for Bernard Hopkins, Oscar is the golden goose and he wants to pluck it. 

Emmanuel Stewart once a respected coach, now just another politician, made several important observations about this fight. “Someone had to win the first rounds, and Oscar did so”. However, for all of his combinations, he failed to score effectively against Strum, who in my opinion seemed bemused by Oscar¹s lack of punching power, and over all game. Thoughts of “where¹s the beef” kept coming to me. Oscar was simply weak and no real threat to Strum.  Sadly, if Strum fights half as good as he did this last time, a rematch would prove lethal to Oscar. 

Lets pray for Oscar. Lets hope he finds better sparring partners.  Lets hope he gets fearless advisors, people not invested in anything other than winning the fight. Lets hope Oscar, withdraws from the fight with Hopkins, who I predict will make a super sized meatless, burrito out of him.  How much money does one man need?  How greedy is greedy enough. How much Gold did King Midas have before he learned that in the end its people who matter most.  No one is saying money is not important, of course it is, but in Oscar’s case, he has enough to buy everyone in his family a fat retirement. Why risk public humiliation and a royal ass whipping to boot. I’m sure his Puerto Rican sweet thing has already squeezed him for mountains of jewelry, several houses and at least one plastic surgery. 

Being an optimist.  I will continue to hope Oscar De La Hoya, finally becomes the nice guy he pretends to be. I will pray the spirit of Poncho Villa and Emiliano Zapata rekindle the fire within him. I hope his Mexican heart is reborn, that he give up his evil ways and just come back to being a good old fashion Mexican ass kicker.   I will light a candle to the Aztec God of War, and pray that Hopkins does not shove Oscar’s Gold Medal where the sun don¹t sun. As I said before, Bernard Hopkins sees Oscar, as the Golden Goose, and he plans to pluck him in three, rock-em in five and drop in six. Once again I gotta say, Thank God For Boxing.       

Comedy Corner

I am still seeking funny stories from any coach, trainer, promoter, ring girl, referee anywhere.  I am working on a book of boxing humor.  

See you Ringside,

Jorge A. Martinez