A boxing legend, Oscar de la Hoya has earned fame and fortune by fighting people with his fast hands and furious left hooks. But now, the 35-year-old Olympic gold medalist is urging young people to use their brains, not their brawn, to gain success.
On the brink of an epic battle with rising star Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday, de la Hoya, in a partnership with Microsoft Corp., took time out of his frantic training schedule to reward three outstanding teens for their commitment to the sciences.
"When I was growing up I didn't have these opportunities that Microsoft has made possible," de la Hoya told HispanicBusiness.com. "For me it was boxing . . . nowadays kids don't want to be athletes. They want to be doctors, inventors, and businessmen.
"This is why it's so important to make the resources available for young students to give them a head start to be successful in life and realize their potential," he said.
In an inspiring ceremony Monday at the Boys and Girls Club in Venice, Calif., Microsoft and the Oscar de la Hoya Foundation gave out awards in the Teen Tech Challenge competition. More than 200 students participated.
In the competition, students ranging in age from 13 to 21 were given the option to complete one task from the categories of photography, short films, or Web-based games.
The Teen Tech Challenge award was given to the Brotherhood Crusade team, which created a video game called "Leadership in the Workplace." The three-member team comprised 17-year-old Marquis Liggins, 14-year-old Willie Ross, and the youngster of the group, 13-year-old Steven Garcia, all from South Los Angeles. The team was given an Xbox 360 and each member received a Zune MP3 player for a job well done.
This competition was designed specifically by Microsoft and the Oscar de la Hoya Foundation to spur interest in technology-related jobs. A lack of qualified personnel has resulted in more than 300,000 available technology positions in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"We wanted to make this competition fun and emphasize the importance of teamwork," de la Hoya said.
The winners were thrilled by the chance to meet de la Hoya and get recognition for their work.
Liggins used three words to describe his emotions: "excited, thrilled, and copacetic." The teens spent numerous hours working as a team to complete the task at hand. Ross said "the teamwork was really fun; it brought us together."
Microsoft Western Region Citizenship Director Celeste Alleyne said, "These young students are the future. . . . We feel it's necessary to do all that we can to prepare and give students the opportunity to succeed and get young people thinking about their futures. . . . These events do that.
"At Microsoft we strive to create special programs like the Teen Tech Challenge," Alleyne said, "providing youth with access to the latest technology, and inspiring them to realize their full potential."
De la Hoya has emerged as one of the most successful crossover Hispanic celebrities since his 1992 Olympic gold medal triumph. With his good looks and charm, he has branched out into music as well as promoting some of the sport's young stars and helping young students achieve success.
De la Hoya created the foundation in 1995 to help youngsters in East Los Angeles, where he rose from poverty to achieve international success. With a goal of preventing young people from engaging in gang violence, drug abuse and juvenile delinquency, de la Hoya has funded and promoted several after-school programs.
"It's an honor and great pleasure to be explaining how important technology is today," de la Hoya said. "There are so many jobs to take advantage of and Microsoft is making these opportunities available. All the students need to do is reach out and grab it."
Visit www.goldenboypromotions.com for more about the Oscar de la Hoya Foundation.
Photos by Matt Graves
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