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Oscar De La Hoya, current boxing promoter and former professional boxer. Photo: Isaac Brekken / AP
Oscar De La Hoya, boxing promoter and former professional boxer. Photo: Isaac Brekken / AP

Oscar De La Hoya for president? A new reality in U.S. politics

De La Hoya's announcement of a potential presidential bid highlights the current climate of U.S. politics.

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Reportedly, boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya is seriously considering a bid for the U.S. presidency in 2020.

The former world champion in six different weight classes, and now a boxing promoter, expressed his interest during a promotion for the Sept. 15 title rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.

It’s not a new phenomenon for citizens from a completely different field of work with no political background or experience to run for political office. De La Hoya said as much.

"That's the beauty of our nation,” he said. “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?"

However, what is fairly new is bypassing running for Congress, governor, mayor, or some other political position and going straight to running for president. Retired professional athletes have had some success running for political office over the past several decades:

  • Former NBA small forward for the New York Knicks, Bill Bradley, served three terms as U.S. Senator from New Jersey (1979-1997).
  • Steve Largent, former wide receiver and seven-time NFL Pro Bowler for the Seattle Seahawks, served four terms in the 104th Congress of Oklahoma (1994-2002).
  • Olympian in track and field, Jim Ryun, served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Kansas’ 2nd congressional district (1996-2007).
  • Former professional wrestler for the AWA and WWF (now WWE) Jesse Ventura served a term as the Governor of Minnesota (1999-2003).
  • Kevin Johnson, three-time NBA All-Star point guard for the Phoenix Suns, was elected to two terms as the Mayor of Sacramento (2008-2016).
  • Retired NFL offensive tackle for the Tennessee Titans, Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers, Jon Runyan, served two terms as the U.S. Representative for New Jersey’s 3rd congressional district (2011-2015).

Each of these retired athletes found major success in their respective athletic careers, then found success after turning to politics. However, each of these athletes-turned-politicians started their political career by running for office at the local or state level.

Donald Trump’s 2016 election win has seemingly shifted the basis and trajectory of what it often takes to successfully run for president.  

While not every U.S. president had previously held another political office prior to being elected president, nearly all of them had experience serving within the public sector.

De La Hoya, like Trump, doesn’t have experience in any of those fields. What the former boxer does have in the event that he wins the Democratic Party’s nomination in 2020, however, is the potential backing and support of fellow members of the Mexican-American community in the U.S. Mexican Americans are the largest Hispanic-origin population in the U.S., according to the Pew Research Center.

Popularity and notability would likely aid De La Hoya in a bid for president. He’s well known globally, and, similarly to Trump, not only popular in a particular state or section of the U.S. However, fame may not be the greatest indicator of success for a potential presidential nomination.

It’s important to have a president in the White House who understands policy, checks and balances, foreign affairs and everything else that it takes to successfully run a country. It can be dangerous for the future of the U.S. if people with no prior political experience are continued to be elected to office.

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