Sport of Money: Oscar De La Hoya, Champion In and Out of the Ring

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In 1992 Oscar De La Hoya won his first world title and Olympic Gold Medal before turning 21 years old. Over the next two decades, the “Golden Boy” would dominate in the ring and win the hearts of boxing fans around the world. Throughout his professional career he’s fought the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr, Manny Pacquiao, Julio Cesar Chavez II, Hector Camacho, Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley, and Bernard Hopkins. With an incredible record of 39 wins (30 by KO) and six losses, De La Hoya won titles in six different weight classes and is widely considered one of the greatest boxers of all time.

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That amount of success in the ring took an incredible amount of hard work and focus, which has also translated to his tremendous success as an entrepreneur. De La Hoya was one of the first boxers to start a promotion company while still fighting professionally. Golden Boy Promotions now represents some of the best and most popular boxers in the world including Canelo Alvarez and Ryan Garcia. De La Hoya is also a part-owner of the MLS team the Houston Dynamo, something he calls one of his best investments ever.

So how did a world champion boxer become so successful outside the ring? TheStreet’s Bill Enright sat down with the boxer-turned-entrepreneur to find out.

Read the full video transcript below:

Oscar De La Hoya:

You have Bob Arum, you have Don King, you have all these promoters who never laced a glove in their life, right, never put on a glove in their life. So, I said to myself, "What if a fighter who knows the sport, who knows what we have to go through, endure the training, the sweat, the tears, the blood, everything, what if I become a promoter and fighters are going to trust you, they're going to confide in me?"

Bill Enright:

Oscar De La Hoya is widely considered one of the greatest boxers of all time. The Olympic gold medalist won 11 titles in six different weight classes, and has 39 wins in 45 fights. Nicknamed the Golden Boy, he was one of the first professional boxers to start his own promotion company where he now represents some of the top fighters in the world.

Well, you're one of the first boxers to have their own promotional company while still fighting. What led to that decision because it was really one of the first of its kind?

Oscar De La Hoya:

It was after the Vargas fight, Fernando Vargas. I believe it was 2001 where I was actually thinking about retiring because it was such a brutal fight, and I mean, luckily I won the fight by TKO in the 11th round. And, I said to myself, "What is life after boxing for me?" And I just, I thought about becoming a promoter right there and then in the locker room after the fight at the Mandalay Bay. And, we've been the biggest promoter now in the last 15 years. We promote Canelo Alvarez, the biggest star in boxing, Ryan Garcia, and the list goes on. So, I've been very fortunate, but it's, I believe all about trust. The fighters trust me.

Bill Enright:

What led to that light-bulb moment for you?

Oscar De La Hoya:

I mean, well, I actually became a promoter while I was active, while I was fighting. And, my philosophy behind it was if leveraged obviously, I'm contractually obligated to HBO, so I'm creating ratings for them. I'm one of the biggest stars for them. So, how can I leverage my popularity? How can I leverage what I bring to the table?

Oscar De La Hoya:

So, after that particular fight with Vargas, I don't know, I don't know how it happened, but it just happened. I hired smart people. I surrounded myself with very, very intelligent people, and we created a team, and we became promoters. We, Golden Boy was born and the rest is history. But, I think that what it took was obviously for me to realize that inside the ring, yes, I have a career, yes, I can make a lot of money, I can generate pay-per-view numbers like there's no tomorrow, but what about life after boxing? So, that's how Golden Boy was born.

Bill Enright:

Outside of boxing, Golden Boy Promotion is also a part owner in the Houston Dynamos. What led to that decision to diversify your portfolio a little bit?

Oscar De La Hoya:

I was fortunate enough to meet one of my heroes actually in business, Mr. Anschutz, Phil Anschutz, who AEG, he built AEG, he built the L.A. Live, STAPLES Center. And, many years ago, he actually gave me a choice because we were such good friends, he gave me a choice, "Oscar, do you want to buy a team?" At the time, he owned seven teams in Major League Soccer. And, he just asked me one day out of the blue, "Do you want to buy a team?" And, I picked the Houston Dynamo, and it probably is one of the best investments that I've made today.

Bill Enright:

Is that just because of when you got in, and the return, and the explosion of soccer in America? Why do you think that that's your best investment?

Oscar De La Hoya:

Well, I mean, soccer, football is growing every single day, and I've always said that soccer in America is maybe 10 years behind Europe or the world. Imagine when soccer becomes a global sport, I mean, talking about Major League Soccer. I mean, the valuations now are incredible they're, I mean, you take a look at LA Galaxy for instance, or you take a look at the Houston Dynamo, or the Miami with Beckham, these valuations are through the roof. And, I came at the right time, I bought at the right time, and it was one of the best investments I ever made.

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