Angel Garcia spent his earliest childhood years starving and running shoeless through the streets of Naguabo, a small town on Puerto Rico’s east coast.
“We lived in a small shed that is still there today, and I ran around barefoot playing with car tires instead of toys. That’s what it means to be poor,” Garcia says of a dwelling that housed two older brothers and a younger sister. “Waking up in the morning and your stomach is burning because you’ve had nothing to eat—that’s hunger.”
In search of a better life for her family, Garcia’s mother eventually moved her four children to north Philadelphia.
“I came to Philadelphia at 6 years old. I had no food. Only you know your pain,” Garcia says. “People think that living from check to check in America is poor. But poor is hand-me-down rags and crying because you can’t go to school because you don’t have anything to wear. You’re a child, and you don’t understand it.”
These days, Garcia trains his son, 147-pound world champion Danny “Swift” Garcia (32-0, 18 KOs), a 28-year-old Philadelphia-based boxing star who is living the American dream.
Groomed by his father since the age of 10, Danny Garcia has vanquished seven former world champions and claimed world titles in two divisions. Garcia has been just as successful outside the ring, using his earnings to fund an auto detailing/mechanic shop, his own gym, a private recording studio, and the DSG barber shop and a beauty salon.
Now the Garcias are putting their efforts toward a charitable endeavor. In conjunction with Danny Garcia’s fight against Colombian Samuel Vargas (25-2-1, 13 KOs) on November 12 at Temple University’s Liacouras Center in Philadelphia (Spike, 9 p.m. ET/PT), father and son have partnered on a food drive with Philabundance, the region’s largest hunger-relief organization.
Fans are encouraged to bring canned goods to the Liacouras Center and the DSG gym, and $10 from each ticket sold will be donated to Philabundance, which provides food for about 90,000 people weekly in nine Pennsylvania and New Jersey counties.
It’s a cause that hits very close to home for Angel Garcia, a 53-year-old father of four and grandfather to Philly Swift Garcia, who was born to Danny and his girlfriend, Erica Mendez, in August 2015.
“Whenever Danny fights, we pray for the poor kids before we go into the arena,” Angel Garcia says. “I always lead the prayers, and the first thing is to pray for all of the hungry kids all over the world.
“I ate a lot of food from a can growing up, so if you guys donate anything or buy a ticket that donates money, you’ll be doing something great.”
In March 2014, Garcia traveled to Bayamon, Puerto Rico, and successfully defended his 140-pound titles with a majority decision over Mauricio Herrera at Coliseo Rubén Rodríguez. Several days before the fight, he made the hour-long drive to Naguabo and saw firsthand where his father grew up.
The visit left a lasting impression on Danny Garcia, who is determined to do his part so less-fortunate kids don’t have to suffer as his father once did.
“Everyone goes through hard times when they need extra help,” he says. “When you’re fortunate, your job is to give back and change someone else’s life.
“We’re going to make a big difference that night, and it’ll be for a lot of people who really need it.”
In addition to fighting for a cause, Garcia is anxious to return to action in the City of Brotherly Love, where he hasn’t fought in more than six years. It will be his second career fight at the Liacouras Center, having earned a two-knockdown, second-round stoppage of Enrique Colin in December 2009.
“I'm just excited to fight at home,” says Garcia, who is returning to action for the first time since defeating Robert Guerrero in January to earn a vacant 147-pound world title. “I feel like I owe this to my fans to fight in Philadelphia.
“The last time I fought at this venue was on a Bernard Hopkins undercard, and I got a big knockout. I plan on doing the same November 12.”
For complete coverage of Garcia vs Vargas, bounce over to our fight page. And for more information on the charitable component to the fight, including how and where to donate, visit the Philabundance website.