If you were to convene a roundtable of boxing’s greatest historians and ask them to tick off the most impactful elements that have made the sport what it is today, it wouldn’t take but a few beats before Latino fighters would enter the conversation.
From Panama to Puerto Rico, Mexico to Cuba, and all points in between, Latin America’s influence on boxing ranks right up there with Muhammad Ali, 10-ounce gloves and the three-minute round.
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, PremierBoxingChampions.com reached out to several of today’s top Latino boxers and asked them about the importance of their heritage as they fight in the shadows of Julio César Chavez (Mexico), Roberto Duran (Panama), Alexis Argüello (Nicaragua), Wilfred Benítez (Puerto Rico) and dozens of other Latin legends.
Leo Santa Cruz (current 126-pound champion): “As a Mexican-American, it is important for me to share my culture, my heritage and my dedication to this sport with my fans. Boxing is in my blood, and it’s an important part of my culture. It’s exciting to be joining other Latino fighters in bringing the sport to more of our fans on free TV.”
Danny Garcia (former 140-pound champion): “We fight for all different reasons, but something that connects us is our pride for where we come from and who we fight for. I’m proud to be of Puerto Rican descent and everything it means to be part of the Puerto Rican culture. It’s a blessing to be able to follow in the footsteps of great Puerto Rican fighters and share with the world how proud I am of my roots.”
Peter Quillin (former 160-pound champion): “I feel very proud to represent the Hispanic community. My dad came to this country in 1980 looking for opportunity, and I’m living proof that, if you fight hard enough, dreams come true. I’m fighting for people of Hispanic descent everywhere, and I hope everyone takes a moment to realize how far this community has come. We all have something to be proud of.”
Abner Mares (former three-division champion): “I fight for my fans, who know that I was born in Mexico and live in the United States but call both home. This month is important to me to show everyone the pride, heritage and story of our lives that make us who we are. From the music I listen to when I train to the culture and traditions I celebrate, I’m proud to be Latino and proud to be Mexican.”
Robert Guerrero (former four-division champion): “Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the great achievements that Latinos have accomplished worldwide. Our heritage shapes us and is passed down from generation to generation. I’m proud to be Latino. I’m proud to be part of the history and new traditions of boxing. And most importantly, I’m proud to be a Mexican warrior.”
Sammy Vasquez (undefeated 147-pound contender): “It’s important for everyone to know their heritage, who they are and where they come from. As a Mexican-American and a proud armed services veteran, I am my heritage and also the future. Culture brings us together, and boxing is a way for me to continue the great story of Hispanic athletes.”
Chris Arreola (heavyweight contender): “I was born in the U.S. to parents from Mexico. I am a proud Mexican-American who wears both cultures and countries on his sleeve. My heritage—my parents, my grandparents and my loyal fans—are vital to me. They are who supported me in my career in boxing, and helped teach and show me the dedication, hard work and knowledge that makes me the man I am today. I am proud to be able to fight on the PBC, where people of all races, languages and interests can watch me push the sport further.”
Erislandy Lara (current 154-pound champion): “My journey to the U.S. represents hope, freedom and being a champion. Coming from Cuba, I have great respect and love for this country. However, my Cuban heritage and culture will always be with me. Latinos have contributed so much to the sport of boxing, and through the PBC, I’m proud and glad to have it showcased on TV across the U.S. and Latin America for everyone to see and hopefully be inspired by.”
- Beyond the ring