I've grown up, ... I'm less naive than before. I stopped the party scene a long time ago and started spending more time with family and real friends. I'm not perfect. Sometimes, I think about what I would say if I could talk to my mother again. First, I'd get off my chest the mistakes and bad decisions I've made. I'm married now with a wonderful wife. We're expecting a baby boy in December. I'm doing LaMaze classes and experiencing morning sickness with her. As a father, I'm going to be there every day I possibly can. But I had two children out-of-wedlock, not with my wife, before I was married. They're beautiful children; I adore them. But I grew up with a solid family, and Jacob and Atiana (ages 7 and 6) are entitled to that too. I try to be a good father to them, but it's not the same and there were other times when my head was turned by fame and fortune. Maybe the best way to say it is that I've made mistakes in my life, but they were innocent mistakes and I've grown from them.
One of the things that bothers me most, ... is that very few people really understand what it means to be a fighter. I hate it when I hear someone say, 'That fighter doesn't have guts.' I hate that; it really ticks me off. I don't care if you're a world champion six times over or a four-round fighter who just got knocked out in thirty seconds of your first professional fight. To step inside that ring, you have to have guts.
Whatever comes next for me, as far as boxing is concerned, I have no regrets. I would never change what I've accomplished and the history I've made.
I would have loved to have met Elvis Presley, ... He was the King. It's very interesting to me; the way he grew up, the demons he battled, how he handled the pressure and how, after a while, it became a burden he couldn't carry.
But people get these crazy ideas, ... I went on my own roller-coaster ride to gain acceptance from Mexican-American fight fans. It was very difficult and frustrating. There were times when I felt like shouting, 'I can be your hero too.' And there were times, like my fights against Ike Quartey and even against Fernando Vargas, when I fought more aggressively and took more risks than I should have to please those fans.
The community work is central to who I am, ... I want to get across the idea in the community that all children have some golden boy or golden girl in them.
I was seventeen when my mother passed away, ... I was heartbroken. Nothing mattered to me anymore. I thought seriously about not finishing high school, even of dropping out of boxing. Not one day passes that I don't think about my mother. And to be honest, there are still times when it's a lonely world without her. But I feel that I was blessed to have her in my life, and I believe she's still looking out for me.
Once, I was at a party, ... This was at a time when it seemed like I had everything. I was young. I was undefeated. I had money. I'd just moved into my own home. People at the party were laughing and having fun. And I missed my mother. I felt so lonely. I remember asking myself, 'Why isn't my mother here? Why are all these people around me? I don't want these people around me.' I looked out the window and started crying.
I've learned to not take media criticism personally, ... Seven or eight years ago, I would have said 'I hate the media; there are people in it who are always bashing me.' Now I understand that, when someone writes something negative about me, it's part of the game. Media criticism will destroy you if you take it personally, so now I play with it. I stay away from politics. Some people criticize me for that, but it's a choice I've made. I have my views, but politics can be very sensitive. I've struggled so hard to get fans and people behind me for what I want to accomplish that it would be a mistake to support one party publicly and have the other party against me.
I've said for years, ... that my biggest heroes are school teachers. A good school teacher is like another parent.
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