Feature | Boxing

Ryan Garcia: Five things you didn't know about the boxing star and social media influencer

He's got some of the fastest hands in boxing, and the 22-year-old is already one of the most marketable athletes in the world.

By Andrew Binner ·

With good looks, a luxurious lifestyle, and a devastating punch, Mexican-American boxing star Ryan Garcia isn’t exactly short on confidence.

The 22-year-old has already amassed 21 professional wins from as many fights, following his WBC lightweight interim title win over London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell in Dallas on 2nd January, 2021.

But things haven't always been easy for social media star Garcia, who had to overcome anxiety on his way to the top.

Even to this day, a huge source of the California-born man’s motivation in the ring is answering the doubters, who question his technique and outspoken personality.

Here, we look at some less-known facts about the pugilist who has quickly become one of the most marketable athletes in sport.

1 - Baseball’s loss was boxing’s gain

Ryan Garcia’s first sporting love was baseball, and he claims that many saw him as the ‘next Babe Ruth’.

However, he became frustrated with his teammates and quickly realised that team sports were not for him.

“I wanted a sport where it could be one-on-one. My uncle showed me a video of a sport called boxing. I was like, 'All right, I’ll try it',” Garcia to Interview Magazine.

“He took me to his garage and put a pair of gloves on me, and right when I did that first jab, I was pretty much just in love with the sound of the mitt. That snap.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

2 - Marketing dream

With 7.3 million Instagram followers and counting, Garcia is a boxer that turns heads in every sense of the word.

His penchant for speaking his mind, coupled to his exciting style in the ring, means that boxing fans follow his every move like a moth to a flame - regardless of their personal feeling towards his antics.

He’s even walked the model runway for brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Abercrombie & Fitch.

In October 2020, sports business publication SportsPro named him the 12th most marketable athlete in the world, and the top in boxing. For context, heavyweight world champions Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury came in at 31 and 32 respectively.

The publication put Garcia’s ranking down to his popularity with younger, more digital-savvy fans. Just imagine what winning a world title will do to those follower numbers…

Ryan Garcia enters the ring in 2019 wearing Superman-inspired trunks

3 - Overcoming anxiety

Given his aptitude for the spotlight these days, it may come as some surprise that Garcia had to overcome anxiety and depression as a teenager.

"I guess as a young kid I was always an over thinker," Garcia told BBC Sport.

"I didn't understand anxiety could have physical effects on you, like panic attacks. I had a little dark time.

"But I learned my emotions, my triggers, the things I need to stay away from. Yes I may be confident, I put on a show but deep inside I am that same person who has fear and doubts like everyone else."

Aside from winning belts and fame in the ring, Garcia sights helping others through their depression, by providing tips and more information on his own experiences, as a major source of inspiration to him.

Ryan Garcia defeated Romero Duno in 2019 with a first-round TKO to claim the WBO and WBC Silver lightweight belts.

4 - Keeping champion company

Training partners don’t come much better than arguably the world’s most dominant fighter at the moment, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.

Despite the fact that the Mexican multiple world champion doesn’t speak English - and Garcia doesn’t speak Spanish - their partnership proves that sport transcends language barriers.

The pair can often be found ringside at each other’s fights, and also share a promoter in 1992 Olympic gold medallist Oscar De La Hoya.

However, their styles outside the ring greatly contrast:

"Me, I like to let it out and say it - if you're going to beat me, come beat me," Garcia told the BBC. "If you do, you must be the baddest man on the planet because I know I can fight,”

"Canelo, man, I have seen his work ethic. If you don't think I'm soaking in this knowledge you must be crazy because I'm not an ignorant person."

5 - Italian fuel

Professional boxers are typically relentless in their dedication to training, and often creatures of habit.

True to form, Garcia has a post-training feeding ritual that he never deviates from.

After securing his weight for an upcoming bout, he will sit down for a pasta meal of fettuccine alfredo with his family without fail.

“Italian food is my favourite type. It stocks you up with energy,” he told GQ Sports.

Made in America with Mexican heritage and Italian food, Garcia really is boxing’s Renaissance man.