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Jose Benavidez Sr.: Thank God for One More Day

By Caryn A. Tate on March 10, 2021

ben 3-miguel-salazar.jpg

“I believe in God. And God gave me the strength to keep going.” (Photo: Miguel Salazar)

On Saturday, March 13, former two-time WBC world super middleweight champion David Benavidez (23-0, 20 KOs) faces Ronald Ellis (18-1-2, 12 KOs) in a WBC title eliminator live on Showtime. The broadcast begins at 9pm ET/6pm PT.


David’s father and lifelong head trainer, Jose Benavidez Sr., sat down with me ahead of the fight. Benavidez Sr. opened up about how the Benavidez family started out, the difficulties he had to deal with as a young man, and how he used that as motivation in raising his son David and his other son, Jose Jr. (a welterweight contender).


“A lot of people don’t know the story behind [David’s hard work and success],” said Jose Sr. “I grew up without parents. I never had that love. I always wished somebody would hold my hand, hug me and tell me that they loved me, you know? I never had that. So when (my sons) were born, I told myself, ‘I’m gonna give them love, something I never had.’


“But when that time came, I couldn’t do it. I had no parents, I was abandoned, I lived on the street. I got afraid that if I died or something happened to me, people would advantage of my kids—that they were gonna get abused like me. I got abused, I got molested, and I went through so many things. I thought, ‘I cannot let that happen to my kids.’


“So I always trained them and made them run. When they were three, four years old they had to run two or three miles before they went to school. They became better because of the hard work. Every day I thanked God for giving me another day so I could make them stronger and stronger. That’s what they became. They’re lions. They’re animals.


“They didn’t have a childhood. I regret that now, because that wasn’t what I wanted, but I was just trying to make them better. I wanted them to be strong in life.”


Jose Sr. got his sons involved in boxing when they were very small children, though he didn’t know they were going to stick with it.


“I fell in love with boxing and I felt it could help them defend themselves,” he said. “That’s why I became a trainer. I didn’t know nothing about boxing…but I learned from videos and watching people train and I asked questions. That’s how I learned and that’s how I thought I would help them in life.


“[When I first took them to a boxing gym] they didn’t really like it, but I thought you’re gonna have to learn how to defend yourselves. But I told them once you find something you love—it doesn’t matter what it is: soccer, football, basketball, whatever—you let me know, and we’ll do that 100%. It’s not gonna be easy, but until then, you guys do boxing.


“So I dedicated myself to them every day. It was super hard—there were so many times I didn’t want to do it. I was so stressed and so tired from working, but then I’d remember my childhood and I said, no, I’ve gotta get up. I’ve gotta make them strong. But it was super difficult, and to this day it’s difficult. Every day it gets more difficult because the challenges are bigger than before.”


Growing up poor and alone as a child, Benavidez Sr. understands very well the impact poverty and negative surroundings can have on a person.


“When you’re poor there’s not a lot of opportunities. It’s twice as hard. But I think at the end of the day you appreciate it more than if you had money and it was easier for you. You become stronger and better I believe.


“I grew up in the streets. I grew up stealing, selling drugs, and doing anything I could to survive and eat because my stomach was growling. I had to. Otherwise I was going to die, to starve to death. I used drugs; I used every kind of drug there is.


“I thought that was normal until I found out that it’s not. That’s why I turned my life around. One day I said I can’t be doing this if I want to continue helping my kids, I’ve gotta leave all this. It was terrible. It was super hard. But I believe in God. And God gave me the strength to keep going and to keep me healthy and keep battling, and I’ve been doing really good, thank God.


“If I can inspire other people who do drugs or whatever, that you can do it—there’s life ahead of you. You can still do something for your family. I asked God for another opportunity for me to be alive because my life was over.


“So I dedicated my life day and night to my kids. And thank God, they’re doing good. Money, belts and all that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is being there when they got those opportunities, and I saw those smiles on their faces. And the most important thing is creating good people. That’s what really matters to me.”


Jose Sr. has hopes that, by sharing his story of how he overcame so much, he can inspire others who may be in similar situations that they too can rise above their adversity.


“I hope that Team Benavidez can be an inspiration to everybody who feels like their life is over or they can’t do it. Hopefully we can bring a little bit of motivation that anything can be done. We’ve gone through so much in life, and we were able with the power of God to stand up again and retake where we left off. With dedication and hard work, you can be successful no matter what.


“I didn’t talk about this for a long time. But now I’m talking about it more and it makes me feel good, because I had something inside I wanted to take out but I couldn’t. So if my mistakes, my life, can help somebody else—I would really love that.”

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