I love my background. When I was little growing up in church, I used to shy away from it a little bit being the only black kid, but now I embrace it. I feel like I’m like the true meaning of an American. We all came here and we’re all mixed together.
I’m an American, but my mother’s from Mexico, my father’s from Detroit. I was raised with a beautiful family that is full of love. The entire family would always get together for picnics and camping trips, which made our bond strong.
I grew up as a black kid, but my family that I grew up with was all Mexican. I learned how to speak Spanish; I grew up in that culture. I even went to school [in Mexico] when I was 13 years old, and I really got a good feel for what it is to be Mexican. My aunt had a ranch out there. I would go to school and then go to work with my cousins. I’d see all the work that they did.
When I came back, all I wanted to do was speak Spanish. I was so proud of being Mexican and just having both sides. It means so much to me.
My mother came from a family of 12. Their house was made out of adobe, mud and hay, that my grandfather made. My grandfather came over here and started working in agriculture. He brought my family over. My mom got a job at the post office—she just retired; she was there like 36 years. She made it a long way. To see all my family come out here and flourish, it’s just very inspiring to me.
As far as boxing goes, it’s just the spirit that they bring. They got this saying: "Are you a Mexi-can or are you a Mexi-can’t?" I’m definitely a Mexi-can. That’s how I feel when I’m in the ring. I feel the power and the pride.
And the Mexican fans are the greatest fans. They love their boxing. So when I come out to my Spanish music, and they hear my nickname, "El Gallo Negro," they go crazy. I love my culture and my family, and everything that it brings to me.