“Mexican Is Mexican”: How a Historic Heavyweight Boxing Upset Sparked a Debate on Identity

Jun 3, 2019
3:33 PM

On Saturday, Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz Jr. became the unified heavyweight boxing world champion after a stunning 7th round upset against reigning title-holder Anthony Joshua.

Nobody expected Ruiz to win, the odds being 15-1 in favor of Joshua, who had held the title of world champion since September 2018. The stunning victory quickly made the rounds on social media, and Ruiz became an instant star.

Fans and journalists began to praise the “first Mexican heavyweight champion” in history. And although a large sum of fans reveled on the unexpected victory, some took to Twitter to correct Ruiz’s nationality.

The comments made sparked a debate on Twitter on nationality and identity, and whether being born in the United States negates one’s nationality.

Although Ruiz was born in Imperial Valley, California —a border town east of San Diego— he has competed under the Mexican flag for years, including in qualification tournaments for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Most importantly, Ruiz identifies as Mexican.

Some Twitter users even brought out the Mexican Constitution to defend Ruiz’s identity, pointing out that Article 30 of the Constitution says that Mexicans by birth are:

“I. Those born in the territory of the Republic, regardless of the nationality of their parents: II. Those born in a foreign country of Mexican parents; of a Mexican father and a foreign mother; or of a Mexican mother and an unknown father; III. Those born on Mexican vessels or airships, either war or merchant vessels.”

So by birthright, Ruiz Jr. is Mexican, and he’s clearly very proud to be representing Mexico.

It’s not up to us to decide who identifies as what, no matter where they were born. A select few cannot be gatekeepers of a culture shared by millions.

As Gustavo Arellano said, “Mexican is Mexican.”


Natalia Rodríguez Medina is the 2019 summer correspondent for Latino Rebels. She is a member the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY’s Class of 2019. Natalia tweets from @nataliarodmed