Published 7:44 PM EDT Sep 11, 2018
LAS VEGAS — Boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya said on Tuesday that he plans to launch an unexpected bid for the United States presidency in 2020.
"It's real," the former six-weight world title holder and 1992 Olympic champion said, in response to growing rumors that he was preparing a bid for public office. De La Hoya was speaking at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where he is promoting Saturday's much-anticipated middleweight rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.
"That’s the beauty of our nation," De La Hoya continued. "If Arnold (Schwarzenegger) can be governor, if (Donald) Trump can be President, then why can’t a Mexican-American who won an Olympic gold medal, who’s over 35 and a U.S. citizen, run for presidency?”
De La Hoya enjoys huge popularity among Mexican-Americans, and captured the hearts of the nation when he won his Olympic title in Barcelona and dedicated it to his mother Cecilia, who had previously died of breast cancer. The 45-year-old said he would run as a Democrat during the next electoral cycle and believes his boxing promotional experience and personal wealth would help him obtain the necessary funding to sustain a tilt at the highest office in the land.
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However, his personal life would be certain to come under heavy scrutiny if his campaign for the White House picked up serious traction. De La Hoya has had much publicized battles with alcohol and substance addiction, including multiple stints in rehab.
He claimed to have begun thinking about his potential presidential hopes "many years ago" and voiced confidence that he would be able to tap into significant support.
"As I got older, I get wiser and as I get wiser, I get smarter and as I get smarter, I start to realize the millions and millions of people who’ve told me, ‘Oscar, why don’t you run for some kind of office? Because you can make a difference.’”
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Martin Rogers on Twitter @RogersJourno.