Grew Up in a Bad Neighborhood Like Mike Tyson, a Look at Canelo Alvarez’s Childhood Engulfed With Dangerous Cartels

Published 09/29/2023, 3:09 PM EDT

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Canelo Alvarez and Mike Tyson have a lot more in common than appears on the surface. Both boxers had a tough upbringing. The former two-time heavyweight champion of the world grew up without his father for the majority of his childhood. Not to mention, he was constantly targeted and bullied by his peers. Ironically, that bullying was enough to ignite a fire in him to learn how to fight. Eventually, he became the youngest heavyweight champion in the world and rightfully earned the title of ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet.’ Similarly, Saul Alvarez, too, has a rough childhood. He grew up on the outskirts of Guadalajara, Mexico. However, he hailed from a family of boxers.

He is the youngest child of his family and has seven siblings. Intriguingly, six of them are his older brothers and all of them happen to be into boxing. Meanwhile, he has one sister, Ana Alvarez, who happens to be a businesswoman. However, there is a lesser-known side of the 33-year-old and his childhood. Ahead of his fight against Jermell Charlo, the undisputed super-middleweight champion gives an insight into his childhood and the hardships he battled. But how was it similar to the childhood of ‘Iron Mike’?

Canelo Alvarez’s difficult childhood


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Alvarez had a humble beginning. Their family had a hard time making ends meet. At the young age of 16, Alvarez had his first child. At the time, Alvarez was in the nascent stages of his career and found it difficult to make a living. Reflecting on the same, while speaking to DAZN Boxing, he stated, “There were very complicated moments. There were times when I couldn’t afford milk, diapers, or bus fare to go to training.” However, he adds that he had a mental fortitude to fight through rough times. He added, “But one way or another, I would figure it out and push forward.”


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While growing up, rather than focusing on his academics or sports, his father wanted him to sell ice creams on the buses, which he did for a substantial period. According to The Guardian, He said, “My dad wanted me to sell ice creams on the buses.” He added, “I was quiet, but it wasn’t necessarily a sense of being timid when I got on to the buses.” It is safe to say that his childhood was not a bed full of roses. However, at times, it was very dangerous too. Not to mention, only five years ago, the 33-year-old had to deal with a dangerous cartel.

Alvarez grew up amid dangerous cartels

At the time when Alvarez was growing up in Mexico, there were many active cartels. However, he came through that and made a name for himself in the sport. However, he finally fell prey to drug cartels in 2018. Just days ahead of his fight against Rocky Fielding, his brother was kidnapped. Subsequently, he had to negotiate with them to free his brother, which he managed to do.


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About the incident, Alvarez stated, “One Monday before the fight in 2018, on the phone I negotiated for three days for the bastards to release him. After negotiating I still thought: ‘What would it have been like if it had been my daughter, my mom, or my dad?’ It would have been even harder and besides I fought on Saturday, a thousand interviews and nobody ever knew anything.”

It is safe to say that Alvarez has lived quite a life. Moreover, no matter what life has thrown at him, the boxer has come through. He has been a source of inspiration for people all around the world, just like Mike Tyson. However, we are curious to know, what do you make of his childhood? Share with us your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.


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Written by:

Harddit Bedi


One take at a time

Harddit Bedi is a passionate Boxing writer at EssentiallySports, who specializes in covering the off-court drama of athletes. He has a keen interest in the untold stories of boxers. Harddit is a firm believer in the primal nature of boxing, which he views as the oldest and most fundamental sport known to mankind.
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Edited by:

Gokul Pillai