‘I fight for my Mexican blood brothers!’ Jose Ramirez, who is out to stop Josh Taylor becoming Britain’s first undisputed world champion in the four belt era, is also battling the immigration crisis in his country
- Jose Ramirez is vowing ‘to fight not only my heart out… but beyond human limits’
- He is seeking to become first boxer of Mexican origin to hold all four major titles
- Light-welterweight world champion is a powerful advocate for Hispanic people
- His fight against Scotland’s Josh Taylor takes place on Saturday in Las Vegas
If battling against oppression, poverty, and the desperate plight of others is more powerful motivation than glory and riches, then Britain’s finest boxer is in for a challenging Saturday night as he bids to become the only undisputed world champion from these shores.
Jose Ramirez is vowing ‘to fight not only my heart out but beyond human limits’ as he bids to add the two light-welterweight titles held by Scotland’s Josh Taylor to the pair of belts already around his waist.
He makes that pledge not just for himself but to the thousands of Mexican immigrants toiling in the heat and fields of America’s agricultural heartland. As well as to the multitude of Hispanics now stranded in appalling conditions on the banks of the Rio Grande as they strive for entry to the US.
Mexican fighter Jose Ramirez vows ‘to fight not only my heart out but beyond human limits’
‘This is for them,’ says the California-born son of Mexican parents who worked as an American picker himself. ‘Yes, this will be my most important and perhaps the toughest fight.
‘But the biggest fight of my life is for water rights for farmers like my father, who have just enough irrigation for this year’s harvest but no reserves if there’s a drought.
‘For recognition of the undocumented Mexicans who toil 10 hours a day in those fields to feed America but are denied human status here.
‘For all those waiting and hoping to cross the southern border simply so they might work hard and live the American dream but instead find themselves exploited, endangered, even left to die by human traffickers.
‘For the unaccompanied children who risk drowning in the Rio Grande or are dropped over that high wall alone, praying for rescue by the border guards, for water, food and shelter.’
There is even more fire and passion burning in this 28-year-old for the causes he champions than be brings to his quest to become the first boxer of Mexican origin to hold all four major titles as well as the Ring magazine belt.
Ramirez is keenly aware of the enormous boost to his fundraising campaigns should he become one of the few undisputed world champions in Mexico’s warrior boxing history
‘Of course I want to win this fight for my pride and my legacy,’ he says ‘And for my people and heritage, just like all Mexican boxers.
‘But it is for my neighbours, my blood brothers labouring out in the heat and dust for ten hours a day, that I have prepared myself to go further than the normal limits of body and mind in this fight.
‘To that place where only my heart can take me. My heart which bleeds also for the desperate families and lost children suffering in the terrible crisis at the southern border.’
Crisis is not a word Joe Biden is willing to use in reference to the immigration disaster. Thus Ramirez is distinctly less impressed with the current leader of the supposed free world than he is with this Saturday night’s opponent.
These two statements come separately but stand in telling juxtaposition:
First: ‘Josh Taylor is a very good fighter. A Scottish warrior. A strong, brave man with whom I will be proud to share a ring.’
Then: ‘America is a wonderful country but the new US President, I’m afraid, made a mistake in encouraging those tens of thousands of vulnerable people from the Central American nations to make the long journey north in hope of a better life, only to end up living In fear.’
Ramirez is a powerful advocate for Hispanic people, saying: ‘Every President since Mr Reagan should have been engaging in bipartisan discussion with the leaders of the Central American nations. Working together to prevent the sad story now unfolding at the border and the confusion it is creating among immigrants already in America.’
Ramirez was born and raised in the small agricultural town of Avenal, 186 miles north of Los Angeles in California’s Central Valley, which supplies 59 per cent of produce consumed in the US.
Despite the national reliance on this food, the water which makes this huge output possible is left to chance.
‘There is virtually no investment from government in the infrastructure needed to store water,’ says Ramirez. ‘Farmers like my father rely on Mother Nature. No rains, no crops. No immigrants, hardly any harvest picked.’
Ramirez (R) is seeking to become the first boxer of Mexican origin to hold all four major titles
He recalls his daily life as a teenager: ‘I would be picked up at 5.30 in the morning and driven out to the fields. I picked bell peppers, potatoes, carrots and so on from six in the morning to four in the afternoon. From 4.40pm I was in the gym.
‘Working in those fields built a lot of my self-discipline. It made me appreciate my fellow workers, my father, my heritage, my last name all the more. It made agriculture the roots of my boxing work ethic, which I love.
Hundreds of thousands in the Mexican-American community here are so disenchanted with Democrat presidents that although Biden was elected to the White House there was a near-20 per cent rise in Hispanic voting for Donald Trump.
Even though ‘The Donald’ began building The Wall, it is Barrack Obama who has been denounced as the ‘Deporter-in-Chief.’
Ramirez puts the politics into perspective by remembering how the disenfranchisement of the pickers prompted Ronald Reagan into an amnesty for 11 million Mexicans.
He says: ‘Politicians talk a lot of promises to get elected but then nothing happens. There has been no proper immigration reform since Mr Reagan brought in the blue cards for blue collar workers in 1986.’
WBO and WBC light-welterweight world champion is a powerful advocate for Hispanic people
This articulate, bi-lingual young man frequently refers to this quote by President Reagan at the time: ‘A class of individuals who until now have had to hide in the shadows without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society will be able to step into the sunshine.
‘They are the illegals who have put down roots here and are doing work our own people don’t want to do. No law should be allowed if it leaves crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters.’
Ramirez is a powerful advocate for Hispanic people, saying: ‘Every president since Mr Reagan should have been engaging in bi-partisan discussion with the leaders of the Central American nations. Working together to prevent the sad story now unfolding at the border and the confusion it is creating among immigrants already in America.’
There is no party political bias to his judgements of occupants of the White House.
Of Trump’s remarks about preventing entrance to the US for criminals, rapists and drugs dealers, he says: ‘The overwhelming majority of Mexican immigrants come here to work, to improve their lives, pay their taxes and be good law-abiding citizens. You can see them in the fields.’
Frequently, Ramirez still does exactly that. Paying visits to some of those alongside whom he used to work those long, sweltering hours.
Josh Taylor can become Britain’s first undisputed world champion in the the four belt era
He was born and raised in the small agricultural town of Avenal, 186 miles north of Los Angeles in California’s Central Valley, which supplies 59 per cent of all produce consumed in the US. Despite that national reliance on this food-stuff, the water which makes possible this huge output of vegetables and fruits is left to chance.
Says Ramirez: ‘There is virtually no investment from government in the infrastructure and facilities needed to store water. Farmers like my father have to rely on Mother Nature. No rains, no crops.’ And, by the way: ‘No immigrants, hardly any harvest picked.’
He recalls his daily life as a teenager: ‘I would be picked up at five-thirty in the morning and driven out to the fields. I picked bell peppers, potatoes, carrots and so on from 6 am to four in the afternoon. Then from 4.40 pm I was in the gym training.
‘Working in those fields built a lot of my self-discipline,’ he says. ‘It made me appreciate my fellow workers, my father, my heritage, my last name all the more. It made agriculture the roots of my work ethic for boxing, which I love. I am the first of family ever to box and that now gives more privileges tous than we ever knew.
‘My father gives work to many immigrants and helps the ag workers by way of better wages, schooling, health care and finding better jobs.’
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought another focus to the Ramirez charitable efforts. Jose explains: ‘Many of the immigrants will not admit they are sick because they cannot afford to be off work or fear losing their jobs.’
Ramirez (L) and Taylor face-off this week ahead of their clash in Las Vegas on Saturday night
In response, his foundation has supplied tens of thousands of boxes containing non-perishable foods, household essentials, disinfectant, cleaning materials, face masks and vitamins.
The response comes in different ways. A statue of him stands in the district capital of Fresno, erected in honour of his boxing achievements and his humanity.
He is even more touched by the 72-year-old lady from a humble home and of limited means who donated her monthly government stimulus cheque for $1,200 in response to his public plea: ‘Let us feed the people who feed us. Let us boost their immune systems.’
No regular pre-fight interview, this.
Although this week Ramirez’s attention is turned towards adding to his WBC and WBO world titles the WBA and IBF belts held by Josh Taylor, who is expecting another Fight of the Year battle to compare with his epic title-unifying victory over Regis Prograis in October 2019.
But it is still the fight for farmers rights which comes first in the Ramirez priorities. As he says: ‘No water, no life.’
TV: streaming on FITE TV for £9.99, fight approx 4am (Sunday)
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