New Boxing Champ Andy Ruiz Jr. Brings His Native Imperial Valley Into Focus

Hometown pride and national attention descends on an often-overlooked community.

When native son Andy Ruiz Jr. defeated heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden, the 29 year old became the first fighter of Mexican decent to hold a belt in the sport’s prestige division. He also brought a renewed sense of pride to his Imperial Valley home. Honored with a parade and a rally, it’s the first time in years the region east of Los Angeles and San Diego and north of the Mexican border received so much attention and fanfare.

According to the L.A. Times, “Ruiz’s Mexican heritage and improbable rise—a high school dropout, he got the fight against Joshua with only four weeks’ notice after the original opponent failed a drug test—have been the main story lines chronicled by the national and international press. They’re important to valley residents, of course.

“But many around here want outsiders—and that includes other Californians—to consider something else they say Ruiz personifies: the hard knocks in which Imperial Mexicans not only endure but thrive.”

You can read more about the Imperial Valley’s Mexican heritage and Ruiz’s victorious homecoming here. 

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