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Boxing Giant Cops to Drag Pix: Yep, That’s Me

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday Sep 8, 2011

Boxing titan Oscar de la Hoya, who shattered records by winning titles in multiple weight divisions over the course of his career, has come clean about the racy fishnet-and-boxing gloves photos that became known in 2007.

De la Hoya had long maintained that the photos were computer-generated forgeries, his protestations seemingly bolstered by findings from forensic analysis that purported to show that the images had been digitally manipulated.

But now the "Golden Boy" who thrilled the world in the ring before creating a sensation with the saucy snapshots has confirmed that the photos are genuine, CNN reported on Sept. 7.

De la Hoya was a phenomenon from the start, winning the bantamweight Golden Gloves in 1989 before going on to take the title in the 1990 U.S. Amateur Boxing National Championship. Two years later, he took the gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics.

Later that same year, de la Hoya burst onto the professional boxing scene with equal brio, taking the world title in the junior lightweight category. He was 20 years old.

Further victories followed, with de la Hoya entering successively heavier weight classifications and winning their titles. He hit a snag when he was knocked out in a contest with Bernard Hopkins for the middleweight title, but de la Hoya roared back to win the super welterweight title from Ricardo Mayorga.

But as the champion aged, the bouts got harder and more punishing. He retired in 2009.

But life away from the sporting world was not always such smooth sailing. In 1998, de la Hoya was accused of rape in an incident with a 15-year-old, and eventually settled out of court.

Then the photos surfaced in 2007. They depicted the married de la Hoya and Milana Dravnel, reportedly his mistress at the time, with his posing in fishnet garb and seemingly pink panties, along with other women’s apparel.

Dravnel reportedly sold the photos and they appeared at a tabloid website, instantly creating a scandal. De la Hoya’s camp sought to paint the images as hi-tech fakery.

"The photographs depicting Mr. De La Hoya’s image that were posted online today by an obscure paparazzi Web site are fake," declared de la Hoya’s attorney at the time.

"Many of the Web site’s viewers (as reflected in postings on the site) identified the photos as ’a really bad Photoshop job,’ " the attorney added. "Unfortunately, with today’s technology, anyone can make any photo seem like something other than it is."

In May, de la Hoya entered rehab. In an August 30 Spanish language interview on Univision’s news show "Aqui y Ahora (Here and Now)," de la Hoya admitted that the photos were real, blaming the escapade on cocaine and alcohol.

De la Hoya also said that he had been unfaithful to his wife, and described his suicidal state of mind in the aftermath of the photos making headlines.

"One of these nights when I was drunk and alone again, I asked myself, ’Is it worth it to be alive?’ I was already feeling like I had nothing," de la Hoya recalled. "And what is going through your mind are your children, your wife, the people who love you."

Dravnel had come out as saying that the photos she’d sold were fakes, but later retracted that statement and sued de la Hoya, claiming she’d been pressed into making the claim. De la Hoya told the news program that he paid Dravnel $20 million to settle the matter.

De la Hoya also told host Theresa Rodriguez that his life as a professional boxer was "a very hard life, a life with many sacrifices, a lot of work and a lot of responsibility, a lot of pressure, and I think that I was unable to manage that life on many occasions."

Added de la Hoya, "I felt very powerful being alone, being alone, by myself, drinking and doing bad things. I felt very powerful, but at the same time, I was crying and feeling lonely....

"I have very good values," de la Hoya went on. "I come from a very good family, I realized it, but this addiction, this ’monster’ as we call it, took over me."

De la Hoya said that he drank to excess, sometimes downing tequila before fights, and also used cocaine. When asked whether he had used marijuana, de la Hoya said he had used no other drugs.

De la Hoya also credited his wife with the fact that their marriage survived.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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