Famed Boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Talks About His Drug Addiction

By Brent McCluskey 03/26/15

The former six-time champion hit rock bottom after his career, but found sobriety and a chance to help others.

Julio Cesar Chavez
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Most remember renowned boxer Julio Cesar Chavez for his incredible fights, but few were aware of his fight against alcohol and drug use.

During his meteoric rise to fame, Chavez racked up six world titles and over 80 knockouts. But excessive alcohol and drug use put his life and career on the ropes. Now, Chavez has stepped out of the ring and into the public spotlight to tell his story.

“I had it all—money, women, fame, cars, yachts, everything a man could want—but it didn’t give my life meaning,” said Chavez. “I felt nothing. So what did I do? The most stupidest thing I could.”

In the 1980s and ‘90s, Chavez was known for having an iron chin and a fierce left hook. One of 11 children from a poor family, Chavez carved a name for himself in the boxing world. He fought hard, and he won his way to the top. Chavez had it all, but he still wanted more.

“At first I [could] control it, but I just needed more alcohol and more cocaine and more and more,” said Chavez. “That's when the problems really started. That’s when the failures began, the defeats.”

Four years after he started using, Chavez was knocked to the ground for the first time in his career. The crowd was stunned. Chavez lost five more fights before retiring in 2005, but because of his alcohol and drug addictions he nearly lost his life.

“I woke up in the clinic in a room with the IV still in my arm, and I just ripped it out and started cussing at everyone,” said Chavez, recalling his first introduction to rehab.

Despite his initial protests, Chavez stayed for six months and has been clean ever since. Now Chavez is trying to help other addicts. He’s already opened several clinics and plans to open at least two more.

Though, historically, Mexico has been unforgiving of their fallen stars, the country has embraced Chavez’ recovery with open arms and has even erected a 20-foot bronze statue in his honor.

“I felt excited, happy and proud,” said Chavez. “At the same time, I feel the pressure, the commitment. I really have to stay clean now.”

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.