Former heavyweight boxer David “Nino” Rodriguez has had 36 professional fights. Of those, 34 were knockouts by Rodriguez. Twenty-four of those knockouts were in the first round. So it should go without saying that the man knows how to handle himself inside a ring.
Outside of the ring, though, is where Rodriguez, age 39, finds himself today. After a knife attack that left him nearly dead, Rodriguez returned to the ring briefly but found his strength in other areas as well. He chronicles his journey to recovery in his recent book, “When the Lights Go Out.”
Rodriguez, from El Paso, Texas, is now an anti-bullying advocate who spreads messages of faith and strength. What makes him unique is his openness about his politics, which led him to help create a viral video that showed the weakness of America’s southern border. His faith and politics have served him well personally, but professional bias seems to exist in the athletic world — just as it does in entertainment. That’s a problem.
LifeZette talked to Rodriguez about his journey, his book, his new conservative-leaning venture (borderlandalternativemedia), and the existence of political bias in sports.
Question: Tell us a little bit about your motivation to write “When the Lights Go Out” and what you hope readers take away from your book.
Answer: My whole motivation behind writing it was purely therapeutic. I needed to release the pain I felt, of seeing my career end so tragically. Dealing with having almost been murdered, and then losing my perfect 36-0 record with a devastating loss, destroyed me inside.
When I began writing the book, I realized how my life’s journey had thus far come full circle. I realized I’d begun as an insecure child who was bullied. My whole career, I was trying to prove something to myself. I hope anyone who reads my story will see how fragile life is and that we must enjoy the ride no matter the difficulties. We are each uniquely different, and we all are here to make a difference in our own way.
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Q: You’ve obviously endured a great deal, nearly having your greatest ability and outlet to express yourself completely ripped away from you, as your book details. Now, you advocate for bullied kids and do great motivational speaking. You went through something awful — but did that experience make you more of who you are or somehow make you a stronger version of yourself?
A: I believe it revealed my true strength. We sometimes do not know who we truly are until we are tested. That is why I loved boxing so much. It was always a spiritual test for me, to face down my fears and overcome them, fight by fight. Now I faced an even greater test — nearly losing my life and ultimately losing my career. I found an even stronger “me” through all of these trials.
Q: Tell us a little about the video you did with Army veteran and independent journalist Joe Biggs near the border. What was the motivation for it?
A: The motivation behind the video was purely adrenaline and fun, while showing how weak our border really is. The fact that we had Mexicans laughing with us at our pathetic border showed just how ridiculous our border patrol security really is. I’m all for immigration as long as it’s legal. I believe we need to vet thoroughly so that we don’t allow the wrong type of people to come here and cause harm to innocent people. Maybe a thousand people can come here with great intentions, but it only takes one to cause immense harm and pain to a community.
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My family are migrants, but they did it the right way and worked extremely hard, with belief in a country where dreams can come true if you apply yourself. This is what makes America so beautiful and different from every other country in the world. That we have so many people coming to this great country and living off taxpayer dollars is wrong in my eyes, and it isn’t fair to the people who work hard.
“My family are migrants, but they did it the right way and worked extremely hard.”
The U.S. isn’t the United Charity of the World. Our citizens must come first. I understand many readers may not agree, but this country has been deeply divided by this issue. It’s time we all come together and break bread together to talk about our differences. We all are still part of the same wonderful country, and we must respect each others’ opinions.
Q: You’re obviously very open about your beliefs and who you are. Has that ever held your career back? Have you ever witnessed or experienced bias in the sports world because of who you are, similar to what artists experience in Hollywood?
A: Absolutely. I’ve had many people walk away from me completely. I’ve even had publicists and managers secretly work against me. It’s been an uphill battle, but it’s OK. Everyone has a right to what they believe. I do not take it personally. I have a tattoo on my forearm that’s a quote from Emiliano Zapata, a famous Mexican general that reads, “It’s better to die on your feet than to live a life on your knees.”
To me it’s better to stand for what you believe in than to become a sheep and live in fear of what other people might think of you. That’s not living. God bless.