Boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya has revealed he would have pursued a career as a footballer – had he not been so handy with his fists.
The Golden Boy, who won 10 world titles in six different weight classes during his 18-year professional career, is now a promoter working with the likes of Amir Khan, Bernard Hopkins and Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright.
De La Hoya revealed his obsession with football during his younger years, but admitted his family had a strong influence on his career path with their boxing pedigree.
“If I didn’t become a boxer, I’d have been a soccer player. It’s our passion as Latinos,” De La Hoya told Goal.com.
“I was raised in a Mexican family and when we travelled three or four times a month to Mexico, we would box and play soccer with our cousins.
“My dad was a boxer and so was my grandfather, so my career path was set in stone. But to me, soccer is a passion. It’s a family game and one that the whole world shares.”
The MLS is rapidly expanding in America, and De La Hoya believes football is catching up quickly with established sports such as baseball and basketball.
“Soccer is growing in the United States. Little by little, more people are respecting the game and taking notice in MLS,” he said.
“We have a lot of young people playing. I’d say we’re lagging about five to 10 years behind those leagues (MLB and NBA) in popularity and quality of play. It’s going to take us within five to 10 years for us to truly compare MLS to those other leagues.”
De La Hoya is the minority owner of MLS side Houston Dynamo and as the club move into their new home, the BBVA Compass Stadium, on Saturday, the 39-year-old believes the MLS makes for a sound business investment.
“I think this was the right choice. It was a good decision (for me) to come in,” he said.
“I did it because I believed in it, plus I respect the game and have passion for it. But yes, I would definitely recommend that any businessperson invest in MLS because you’re already seeing the sport grow here.
“We have an average of 17,000 to 18,000 fans in the stands in every game. I’m sure that in Houston with the new stadium we’ll be a great example for future investors.”
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