The Boxer Who Turned Heartbreak into Hope
One day in 1969, Alan Santana was mad. The eight-year-old boy been picked on one too many times by the bullies at his Los Angeles Harbor elementary school. He was fed up.
When he told his dad about it that evening, his dad told him he needed to learn how to stand up for himself. They headed to the store and got Alan his very first boxing gear.
It wasn’t long before Santana watched a Muhammad Ali fight. Beside his dad, who’d spar with him regularly after school, Ali became the boy’s idol. No wonder. Santana had more in common with the trash-talking heavyweight champ than he may have known: Ali himself only started boxing because bullies stole his bicycle.
Santana had a highly successful 20-year amateur boxing career during which time he emulated Ali’s fighting technique and style of dress. He won many state and local titles in over 140 fights, and was a proud member of the California/USA Boxing Team from 1980 to 1984.
The similarities between the two boxers didn’t end there. Like Ali, Santana also developed a remarkable gift of gab, a skill that has proven advantageous for his ongoing work as a sportscaster and ringside commentator.