Outside the Ring: Israel Vasquez

By Jill Diamond on May 20, 2015
Outside the Ring: Israel Vasquez
“No one [ever let me down]. Everyone who I've met has taught me something about life.”

Known for his toe-to-toe fury, his gladiator determination and heroic heart, there was never a doubt about his willingness to forge into battle…

Sports and Philanthropy: A series of articles dedicated to those who’ve given their all and still give more. Each article will feature a different community champion; no belts, no medals, no ratings… just good people passing it on.

In days of yore, a warrior would never retire. He had an oath to remain ready for the next war. Perhaps, when he was old, he was given a tract of land, a ceremony and sometimes, a knighthood. So, what does a ring warrior do today? I thought I’d ask one of the most ferocious combatants in boxing history. Known for his toe-to-toe fury, returning again and again with gladiator determination and heroic heart, there was never a doubt about his willingness to forge into battle, nor his unwillingness to give up the fight. Like all great heroes, his retirement was imposed, the clang of the bell still fresh in his ears, his heartbeat slowing down to an easeful rhythm. How does a warrior pass on those skills meant only for battle, and still be a role model for those outside the war zone? Can a hawk have a dove’s heart?

So tell, us Israel Vasquez, how does a world champion, face life outside the arena?

Why did you decide to open your gym in Southgate?

Honestly, I started it as a hobby. I wanted to prove to myself I still had the hunger and love for Boxing. Southgate is a city close to my home, I wanted to stay near my family and help out our own community.

When did you realize it was more than gym but also a platform to do good work?

I gave myself a year to see if this is what I wanted to do, but immediately thanks to God and word of mouth, I saw how many kids and teens needed this so I had to continue to keep the kids motivated. For example Diego “Margarito” Padilla had his pro debut, he won, but when he came to me a few years ago, he was in gangs and a bad environment. Ever since he started training with me, he hasn’t stopped working, and his dreams have changed. He’s motivated, no longer hands out with a bad crowd. He works a night shift and sleeps a bit during the day, then trains and leaves to work. Yesterday he took the day off to fight. That’s dedication.

How did you get involved with Junior Charities?

I received a call from a friend of mine, who told me about a young boy, Angel Santos, who wanted to meet Oscar De La Hoya. Unfortunately he wasn’t available so I was called and that where I met the foundation.

Tell me about your first fundraiser?

Our first fundraiser was May 2014 which we planned because we had so many leftover auction items from helping raise money for Angel Santos who unfortunately passed away. The family and our team decided to do a meet and greet to auction items and raise money which went 100% to the charity that helped Angel.

Do you think being a former world champion makes a difference in people’s response to your cause?

Yes it does, and I humbly say this, but we’re able to capture a bigger audience attention just for being a public figure.

Why is this important to you?

By doing so, the fans imitate and want to help. This helps the cause get more exposure and more people involved in helping so many charities.

People think of fighters as aggressive and combative. Is this true of you?

Yes it is, but only inside the ring, outside the ring, we’re all normal like everyone else. For example, my life is very calm, and tranquil. Boxing was my job and what I loved to do.

What is it in your background that makes philanthropy important to you?

In me personally I think my parents’ way of raising me. My parents didn’t have an academic education, but they sure raised me well. To be well-mannered, show respect and to do at least one good thing a day. That’s what I always remember and still try to do till this day.

Who has inspired you?

My parents.

Who’s let you down?

No one, everyone who I’ve met, good or bad, has taught me something about life.

A highlight from your career?

Becoming World Champion.

Anything you would do differently?

Not one thing, because if I change one thing, it wouldn’t be as it is today.

Why is giving back important to the community? Your family?

Because of the life I’ve had, I’m able to have my beautiful wife Laura and amazing kids, Israel, Anthony and Zoe. To be here available to my community to help is the greatest feeling ever, because they’re the ones who saw me train in the beginning of my career.

A story you’d like to share?

I always say it’s amazing that I will be able to tell my kids and grandkids fighters I sparred with Manny Pacquiao, Johnny Tapia, Chicanito Hernandez and so many other Legends of Boxing. I’m sure they’ll be in disbelief but hey, I have the pictures to prove it!

Someone you’d like to thank?


How would you like to be remembered?

Like a warrior… a warrior who left everything in the ring to give the fans an unforgettable fight experience.

Outside the Ring: David Berlin
Outside the Ring: Sam Hadfield
Outside the Ring: Steve Farhood
Outside the Ring: Kathy Duva
Outside the Ring: Comanche Boy
Outside the Ring: Margaret Goodman
Outside the Ring: Allen Furst
Outside the Ring: Lonnie and Muhammad Ali
Outside the Ring: Bruce Silverglade
Outside the Ring: Mauricio Sulaiman
Outside the Ring: Luke Downdey
Outside the Ring: Kevin Iole
Outside the Ring: Barry Halbritter
Outside the Ring: Chicago Youth Boxing Club
Outside the Ring: Robert Guerrero
Outside the Ring: Mike Tyson
Outside the Ring: Teresa Tapia
Outside the Ring: Israel Vasquez

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

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  1. peter 03:21pm, 05/22/2015

    Thank you for this interview. I always enjoy these Jill Diamond articles.

  2. Vincent Gardea 08:51am, 05/21/2015

    It’s the fighters like Mr. Vasquez that represent what boxing is truly all about. Never an “It’s a business ” attitude not an overinflated ego. It’s humble warriors like Israel that give boxing that spiirt that we all love.  He was, is and will always be a warrior and champion.  Thank you Señor Vasquez and thank you Jill for a fantastic article.

  3. Kid Blast 06:43am, 05/21/2015

      Vasquez is a credit to the sport of boxing, and the human race.

  4. Pete The Sneak 04:12am, 05/21/2015

    ” My parents didn’t have an academic education, but they sure raised me well. To be well-mannered, show respect and to do at least one good thing a day. That’s what I always remember and still try to do till this day.”

    More times than not, that’s the foundation for an individual to become as classy, humble and giving a person as Israel Vasquez…A true warrior inside and outside the ring….Nice interview Jill…Peace.

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:37pm, 05/20/2015

    Simply great introductory paragraph….he was all that and more! He had the same issue as Gabriel Rosado….eyebrows that look like they could fly away making the both of them so dadgummed prone to nasty debilitating lacerations.

  6. Michael Montero 07:54pm, 05/20/2015

    This was a great piece on a great fighter inside the ring and a great man outside of it.  Mr Vasquez is a credit to the sport of boxing, and the human race.  Inspiring article, thanks for posting!

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