Boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya has come forward to share a particularly traumatic experience from his adolescence.
On Saturday, September 11, 2021, Oscar De La Hoya will return to the boxing ring for the first time in over a decade when he faces MMA great Vitor Belfort. Some of the demons De La Hoya has been battling since stepping away from the ring have been very public, but there are others, such as one De La Hoya shared earlier this week, that have been kept private.
In an interview with the LA Times, De La Hoya opened up about a particular experience that helped shape the man he is today.
“I was raped at 13, from a woman, an older woman,” De La Hoya said. “Thirteen, lost my virginity over being, you know, being raped, basically.”
De La Hoya claims the incident took place in Hawai when he was attending a sporting tournament of some kind. He says the older woman was over 35 years old. As the years passed following this experience and De La Hoya grew into a man, he learned how to become a better fighter, both internally and externally.
“You suppress everything,” he said. “You’re living this life, the Golden Boy, but, oh s—, wait, that’s still there. Like I never, like, thought about it, I never processed it, I never really thought how my feelings are … until one day it just comes out, and you don’t know how to deal with it.”
When De La Hoya was on top of the boxing world and winning championships, it was never fully about himself. His temporary victories over his demons and his etched conquests over his opponents were more for his fans, his children, and essentially everyone in the world but him. Today, as he prepares to make his return to the ring at 48 years old, he’s now operating on his own terms.
“I’m training whenever I want to train,” he said. “Yeah, there’s a schedule, but I’m training at home, where I live. I’m not going to Big Bear for three months and missing everybody and missing out.”
Still, even as he prepares to try to overcome Father Time next Saturday against fellow combat sports veteran Vitor Belfort, De La Hoya says he continues to struggle in a much bigger fight every day.
“I have to deal with Little Oscar,” De La Hoya said regarding his painful past.
De La Hoya himself was sued in a 1998 civil lawsuit that accused him of rape and imprisonment. The lawsuit was settled out of court in 2001. De La Hoya was again sued in 2019 in connection to sexual assault allegations dating back to 2017, but the accuser later dropped the suit for undisclosed reasons.