So it's their
idea to target several ground-floor industries--print media, land development,
food services and financial services--and give them a boost of instant
credibility by applying De La Hoya's name. Take banking. Schaefer has said
that, of more than 250 banks in California, there is only one that targets the
Hispanic market. "Do you know that 53 percent of the Hispanics in this
country do not have a bank account?" he asked. A Latino consumer-finance
company, which is what Schaefer and De La Hoya are looking to buy into right
now ("a regional roll-up," Schaefer said), might seem all the
friendlier to such newbies, what with a barrio-boy-made-good legitimizing it
with his endorsement.
"To a large
extent," said Schaefer, "Oscar has become the face of Hispanics."
With that in mind, De La Hoya and Schaefer are seeking entry into other
businesses as well. "We want a diversity of revenue streams, sports other
than boxing, entertainers other than athletes," Schaefer asserts.
De La Hoya has
been using his estimated $150 million in personal wealth the old-fashioned way,
too: buying and selling land. Last year he announced a partnership with a Los
Angeles developer to invest $100 million in housing and commercial properties
in Latino communities. De La Hoya took profits on his minority ownership of the
Barneys building in Manhattan, but he has entered into deals on eight other
developments under construction around the country. His own Golden Boy Building
in Los Angeles, a 12-story office building on pricey Wilshire Boulevard, has
seen rents more than double since De La Hoya became its majority owner a year
ago. And it's 98% leased.
The fighter also
has been bucking the trend by buying into newspapers--six Spanish-language
dailies across the U.S.--believing that the Hispanic market still favors the
printed page over the Internet.
with Magic Johnson, who has built a business empire with a special focus on
minority customers, is apt, and De La Hoya has acknowledged the inspiration.
"He's a tremendous role model for any athlete who wants to be an
entrepreneur," the fighter says of the former NBA star. But De La Hoya said
there is a difference between his projects and Johnson's, and it's more than
the difference in the two men's ethnicities. "This is my money," he
He expects it to
come back to him, though, as the Hispanic demographic more fully enjoys its
economic strength. "They're spending the money," De La Hoya said of his
fellow Latinos. "Sometimes money they don't have. There is no hesitation to
buy a car, the first home, to invest. The growth, the spending power, it's
But De La Hoya is
not just about the making and taking. As he's matured, he's developed a
philanthropic streak. He donated $1 million and paid another $7 million for
land to establish a charter school, Animo High, in East L.A. The investment has
been paying off in superior test scores.
And De La Hoya
has become involved with White Memorial Hospital in East L.A., donating
millions to a cancer center he established. (His mother, Cecilia, died of the
disease there.) Once involved, he continued with donations of several million
more to help with neonatal intensive care and a maternity and delivery
Although De La
Hoya spends more and more time in Puerto Rico with his wife, Millie, and their
11-month-old son, Oscar Gabriel, he is not at all an absentee owner, content to
let his partner orchestrate the deals, according to Schaefer. "He walks
every piece of land," Schaefer said, "goes over every deal. He knows
how to work a deal and how to sign one. He really gets it. He's the
If so, he's going
to be a slightly distracted boss in the next few months, as the promotion for
his fight against Mayweather gears up. He might as well enjoy this distraction
while he can--while he can still afford to, that is.