Boxing Great Oscar De La Hoya Admits Addiction, Stay at Drug Rehab

Boxing Great Oscar De La Hoya Admits Addiction, Stay at Drug Rehab

Such news shouldn’t surprise us, as it comes quite frequently. Yet it always seems to take us off guard, especially when we hear of a celebrity role-model who’s the latest to admit problems with addiction. When former boxing champion Oscar De La Hoya admitted during a recent interview with Spanish-language network Univision that he’d had suicidal thoughts and had been in rehab for dependency on alcohol and drugs, it was just the latest in a much-too-long list of well-known figures who’ve come forward about their addiction.

De La Hoya, called “The Golden Boy,” was a figure larger than life, one that transcended the gritty sport of boxing. He used his bilingual skills to appeal to both Latinos and whites, and served as a role-model for adolescents, many of whom saw in De La Hoya their own path to success.

Quotes from the former boxing great are quite revealing. As he told Univision, “Rock bottom was recently. Within a couple of years, just thinking if my life was even worth it. I don’t have the strength, I don’t have the courage to take my own life but I was thinking about it.”

What this points out is just how desperate alcoholics and addicts often become. Once they sink into a pit of despair, suicide may seem the only way out.

Fortunately for De La Hoya, he sought help in the form of treatment and going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He says he has been sober for three months now and talks in more detail in an LA Times article about how he hit bottom and ended up at Promises rehab in Malibu.

The drugs, chiefly cocaine, and alcohol also took a toll on his marriage. Unfaithful to his wife, the couple was separated for a while. “We are obviously not talking a Tiger Woods here,” De La Hoya said, “but I was unfaithful.”

As for the progression of his addiction, De La Hoya indicated that “my drug of choice was cocaine and alcohol…Cocaine was recent. The last two years, last 2-1/2 years and I depended more on the alcohol than the cocaine.”

The boxer retired in 2009 following a 16-year career during which he won 10 world titles in six divisions. He was, without a doubt, the most popular fighter in boxing. His last fight ended in defeat at the hands of Manny Pacquiao. His last win was against Ricardo Mayorga in May 2006, where De La Hoya beat his opponent in six rounds to win the World Boxing Council 154-pound belt. De La Hoya’s record wound up at 39-6, including 30 knockouts.

De La Hoya began boxing at the age of five, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He won an Olympic gold medal in the 1992 Barcelona Games, and was delivering on a promise he made to his late mother Cecilia, who died from breast cancer two years earlier.

“[Cocaine] took me to a place where I felt safe, it took me to a place where I felt as if nobody can say anything to me, it took me to a place where I can just reach out and grab my mom.”

As for his future, De La Hoya says he is determined to move forward and to mend the wounds he has inflicted on those he loves. He acknowledges that this could be a lifelong battle, but it’s one he’s committed to fighting.

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