MIAMI – Former world boxing champion Oscar de la Hoya said on Wednesday that soccer may reach the level of popularity enjoyed by boxing in the United States within 10-15 years.
“Soccer is my passion,” he told EFE in an interview. “Ever since I was a child I wanted to play at a professional level. Being a third-generation boxer, I never had the chance to pursue my soccer dream.”
“The Golden Boy,” as the California native was known during his years in the ring, was one of the keynote speakers at the 2018 SPORTELSummit in Miami Beach, which gathered global decision-makers in the sports marketing and media industry.
De la Hoya, now a promoter who represents nearly 100 boxers, is one of the owners of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo.
“I invest in soccer because I love it,” the Mexican-American boxing legend said. “I see a lot of promise in the MLS.”
Regarding his boxing career, he said it caused him “great physical harm,” despite allowing him to enjoy the best moments in his life, such as winning the gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona as a member of the US team, a feat he promised his mother – who died in 1990 – he would achieve.
“The story touched many around the world,” said the former boxer, who officially retired in 2009 after winning 10 world titles across six different weight categories. “That helped me have a fast career to win a world championship.”