Oscar de la Hoya in the Fight of his Life

This week boxing champion Oscar de la Hoya admitted that he’s facing two of the toughest opponents of his life – addiction and depression. In an interview with Teresa Rodriguez on the Spanish-language network Univision, the 10-time world champion and Olympic gold medal winner disclosed his addiction problems with alcohol and cocaine.

We are Rooting for Oscar.

According to 38-year-old de la Hoya, alcohol and drugs became an escape from depression caused by the pressures of his life. Substance abuse and depression are often linked, especially for men who struggle to maintain a tough exterior and are reluctant to seek help for depression. Many people turn to substance abuse as a form of self-medication for mental and emotional disorders.

Unfortunately, substance abuse can change the chemistry of the brain and actually make depression worse.

In the same interview, de la Hoya also revealed that he had been unfaithful to his wife of 10 years and admitted to considering suicide following the 2007 release of embarrassing photos that showed the former boxer dressed in a wig, ladies’ lingerie and stiletto heels. De la Hoya originally claimed that the photos had been altered to look like him. He now admits that he was high on alcohol and cocaine when a stripper took the photos.

Known in the boxing world as “Golden Boy,” de la Hoya is a native of East Los Angeles. Throughout his career he has been a Latino icon and role model for Hispanic youth. He retired from the boxing in 2009 following a career that spanned 16 years. Although he says he only used cocaine for about 2 1/2 years, he admits to abusing alcohol for years before his retirement. He confessed to sometimes drinking tequila to calm his nerves before entering the ring.
De la Hoya was signed in May to serve as a brand ambassador for Tres Generaciones tequila but has been dropped by the tequila maker following the Univision interview. A company spokesman said they were unaware of de la Hoya’s substance abuse problems and may seek reimbursement for money paid to the former boxer.

Oscar de la Hoya has recently completed rehabilitation treatment and says that he has been sober for three months. He believes that excessive alcohol use probably took years off his boxing career. “You can’t be the greatest athlete in the world doing that kind of thing…This addiction ruined my life.”