How Canelo Alvarez Inspired Horse Jockey Victor Espinoza to Try Boxing
It is great to see when athletes from different sports unite. It shows their true athletic spirit, and since every sport is different, it is nice to see athletes who show appreciation for their dedication and hard work. Still, here we have quite a strange combination. Jockey Victor Espinoza and boxer Canelo Alvarez.
Among the many sports, it seems like we’ve found these two that are completely different and don’t share any similarities. On top of that, it is hard to imagine jockeys becoming boxers due to their small physique.
With that said, anything is possible, especially if you are a successful jockey like Espinoza.
How Canelo Inspired Jockey Victor Espinoza
— JuliusJulianis (@julianisjulius) August 9, 2017
Who is Victor Espinoza?
Victor Espinoza, a Mexican-born rider who was born in Tulancingo, Hidalgo, Mexico, on May 23, 1972, became the oldest jockey to win the Triple Crown in American Thoroughbred horse racing in 2015 when he rode American Pharoah.
That is quite an introduction, right?
Winning the Triple Crown is a dream for most jockeys, and the sad story is that most of them will retire without getting even close to a Triple Crown win.
But it seems the stars have aligned for Victor Espinoza, as he won the Triple Crown after 37 years!
The next Triple Crown win came in much quicker, in 2018 with Justify, but it wasn’t Espinoza who rode the champion to the finish line. So, what are the odds of seeing a Triple Crown champion in 2024?
You can always use the horse wagering calculator by TwinSpires to calculate your odds.
Now, even though Espinoza is not considering retirement, he is currently 51 years old, and it is hard to anticipate another Triple Crown win from him.
Northeast of Mexico City, Espinoza was raised on a farm and later worked as a bus driver in addition to attending jockey school and riding instruction.
At the Hippodrome de las Americas in Mexico City in 1992, he won his maiden race. He relocated to northern California the next year, working as a top apprentice jockey at Berkeley’s Golden Gate Fields and San Mateo’s Bay Meadows Racetrack.
Trainer Bob Baffert hired the 5-foot 2-inch (1.58-meter) Espinoza to ride Congaree in his first Kentucky Derby, which he did in 2001.
So, how does a 5-foot 2-inch guy compete in boxing?
The Coming Together of Canelo and Espinoza
After becoming friends with fellow Mexican and three-time world champion boxer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and spending several days with him prior to, during, and following his middleweight title bout draw against Gennady Golovkin in front of a sellout crowd in Las Vegas on September 16 that brought in more than $27 million from 17,318 tickets sold, Espinoza realized the crossover public relations promotion value from a mainstream sport, in this case boxing.
“Sports should support one other, there were tons and tons of media at the fight, most of them from Spanish-speaking outlets, but all of it is important because racing has fallen behind and we need to stick together to get as much publicity as possible.” – said Espinoza.
He also added – “I’m from a town near Mexico City and Canelo is from Guadalajara, where he has a farm with show horses, pretty much just for the fun of it. He wanted to meet me at Del Mar, so I invited him and he was able to see the difference between the two breeds, how Thoroughbreds train, and was very impressed with the whole atmosphere at the race track.”
At the age of five, Alvarez relocated to Juanacatlan, where he grew up on his family’s farm and learned to ride, a skill he still possesses today. Canelo is the masculine Spanish term for cinnamon, a nickname given to persons with red hair, like the boxer.
Being the youngest of eight children—seven boys—Alvarez never lost interest in horses, and eventually, his passion for horses brought him and Espinoza together. All of his brothers went on to become professional boxers.
After Canelo said what it was like to become a jockey and train like one, it was time for Espinoza to enter the world of boxing. This is when Alvarez invited him to train in La Jolla, and after being amazed by his abilities, he also went to watch Canelo fight in Las Vegas.
He found it intriguing to observe the boxer’s preparation routine in comparison to his own as a rider. The common thread of competitive drive tied them together, yet what truly resonated was the convergence of professionals from distinct sporting backgrounds.
He believed this cross-pollination could greatly benefit all sports, particularly horse racing, an arena he felt had lagged in consistent media coverage. Expressing the urgency for catching up, he emphasized the significance of collaborations with mainstream sports like boxing, recognizing the exposure they could bring.
Acknowledging past criticism for engaging in network appearances and activities off the track during his tenure with California Chrome and American Pharoah, he defended his actions, asserting that such decisions were motivated by his belief in what was ultimately best for the promotion and advancement of horse racing.
These are some of the most popular athletes in Mexico, and it is always great to see that they support each other. After all, being a professional athlete is tough, and they know it really well.
Sadly, we will not see Espinoza in the boxing ring, but it is understandable. After all, Espinoza is a professional jockey who has no place in a boxing ring.