It was a dramatic transformation for Mexican-American, Andy Ruiz Jr when he beat Anthony Joshua last June to claim four world boxing heavyweight titles.
According to Daily Mail, Ruiz Jr in his first moments of ecstasy shouted from inside the ropes at New York’s Madison Square Garden: ‘Mum, we don’t have to struggle any more.’
Senora Ruiz was wreathed in smiles as she waved back from ringside. Not only had her chubby kid, as he calls himself, rubber stamped his first five million but she and most of their many relatives had snaffled $10,000 each by backing him at 11-1.
The journey from a dusty border town to the wealth, which comes with being the first world heavyweight champion of Mexican origin was complete. Almost.
All that remained was a car ride. As soon as he arrived back home in Imperial in southern Californian he borrowed a flash convertible and drove down the main street through cheering crowds.
Back in his home town of Imperial, Ruiz was paraded through the streets to cheering crowds
A few days later he went out and bought his own high-class means of transport. A white Rolls Bentley.
Ruiz went out and bought his own high-class means of transport – a white Rolls Bentley
Cars are the status symbol of choice on both sides of the divide between Mexico and its economically distant neighbour. Ruiz also has a Porsche Panamera in his growing collection.
Those vehicles are garaged now in the sprawling hacienda he has bought in mesquite scrubland on the edge of town.
Ruiz’s new home includes a pool amid fountains along with tennis and basketball courts
No doubt his father advised him on the purchase. Andy Sr, a construction worker when he and his wife first immigrated to the US where Ruiz was born, has since bettered himself by ‘flipping’ houses.
That is the American term for buying properties and selling them on for a quick profit.
The 30-year-old Andy Jr’s new home includes the obligatory pool amid sparkling fountains along with tennis and basketball courts.
As well as more than enough bedrooms to accommodate himself his wife and their five children in addition to any friends and family wanting to stay over.
Ruiz visited the Mexican president’s residence, Los Pinos, to show off his four titles
He has also taken to giving tours of the estate to townsfolk who drive out to see how their hero is getting along. Luxurious his accommodations may be but this is not a champion who lives in an ivory tower.
Ruiz is a man of the people. In his heart, the Mexican people. Although grateful for all that America has given himself and his folks, it was the Mexican president’s residence, Los Pinos, to which he took his recently acquired WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO belts. Not the White House.
And although his dual citizenship is enhancing his earning power it is his fellow Mexicans to whom he is promising he will ‘do everything humanly possible to keep those belts for our country’ come Saturday’s rematch with Joshua in Saudi Arabia.
That has included improving his diet for the last three of the six months since he upended Joshua four times in seven rounds.
Although Ruiz still resembles that portly figure who shocked the world having been bred from boyhood on Snickers bars and such delicacies as his mother’s pollo mole, a traditional dish of roast chicken smothered in fiery chocolate.
So ‘chubby’ was he as a boy that his nickname’ Destroyer’ was given to him by his father not for the boxing for which he took this hyper lad to the gym at the age of six but because of the way he blundered about the house like a young bull smashing the china.
In fact, despite the knocking over of Joshua and a majority of his 34 opponents, that ring pseudonym belies the slickest of heavyweight fighting styles. He is surprisingly quick on his feet and even faster with his fists as he lets fly with rapid-fire combinations.
Even his record is slightly deceptive. The one defeat was recorded in his only previous world title fight but most observers believe he was robbed by scandalous hometown scoring in New Zealand in favour of Joseph Parker.
Ruiz left nothing to chance against Joshua and is so confident of doing so again that he risked inflaming our AJ’s wrath by accusing him to his face on television of quitting in the first fight.
The ultimate boxing insult, even though he said it with the smile, which typifies the sunny nature of this happy man.
Andy Ruiz is enjoying himself and expects to do so again in the extraordinary temporary arena erected by the Saudis in double-quick time for the rematch beside the ancient ruins of historic Diriyah.
We will see what Anthony Joshua has to say about that.