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The name Oscar De La Hoya is so synonymous with boxing it’s easy to forget how his remarkable career started. The young Mexican-American avoided confrontation as a child, preferring non-contact sports such as skateboarding and baseball to his family sport of boxing. But with a father and grandfather who had both fought professionally in the ring, it was no surprise when De La Hoya put a pair of gloves on.
De La Hoya, from East Los Angeles, California, graduated from Garfield High School and began to think about competing at the Olympic Games. It was the dream of his mother Cecilia to see her son winning an Olympic medal for his country. So when Cecilia became terminally ill with breast cancer and later died in 1990, her son decided to dedicate himself to achieving his mother’s dream for him.
At 180 and just under 60 kilograms Oscar De La Hoya qualified for the lightweight category in Barcelona, and fought his way to the final where he met Marco Rudolph of Germany. Rudolph was a fighter De La Hoya knew well having suffered his only amateur defeat to the German one year earlier, at the World Championships in Australia.
De La Hoya knocked Rudolph off his feet with a powerful left in round three and the German never really recovered. The young American dominated the bout, winning it by seven points to two. Still full of energy at the end of the fight De La Hoya continued to bounce on the spot as the match referee raised his arm to signal De La Hoya as the new Olympic champion. The American went down on one knee for a short private prayer as his father and family celebrated in the stands. With an Americanflag in one hand and a Mexican flag in the other, De La Hoya was nicknamed ‘The Golden Boy,’ a title that stuck with him throughout his professional career.
During his amateur boxing career De La Hoya's record was an outstanding 223 wins, 5 defeats and an incredible 163 knockouts.