David was born into a Mexican American and Ecuadorian family, his older brother, José Benavidez is also a professional boxer. Both brothers are trained by their father, José Benavidez Sr. When he was 15, Benavidez’s weight ballooned to 250 pounds, as he struggled with dieting and discipline. Benavidez, who started boxing at the age of three, had an amateur record of 15-0. He became a professional boxer when he was 16 years old after an amateur career that included only 15 fights, but had to go to Mexico to get fights as the legal age in the US is 18, in Mexico, where a person can fight professionally at any age.
Today, the 20-year-old Arizona native is the new WBC world champion. David “La Bandera Roja” Benavidez, won the WBC Super Middleweight title on September 18th 2017 with a decision against Ronald Gavril in Las Vegas. At 20, he is now the youngest champion in the world. As a professional boxer Benavides record is 20 wins 0 losses with 17 knockouts and the future looks bright for the young Benavidez, but it was not bright at all just a few years ago…
Benavidez dad Jose Benavidez Sr. had an apartment in Phoenix, there home, he went to LA to work with his son and make him a champion. Before father and son knew it they were living in their car. I know what the struggle is, it was real but that’s what makes make that man I am today, because I have been through hard times, I never put that on social media, so people can feel bad for me, I don’t need anyone to feel bad for me, I just need my own motivation, that’s all I need. I just want to tell everybody, the kids that I was a 250 pound 14 year old who hated the way he looked, I didn’t believe in myself, but I said to myself, I am going to put in the work and stay dedicated and look where I’m at now.
“Boxing taught me that you have to work harder than anyone else to get what you want. I liked other sports growing up, but boxing took up all of my time and energy. Boxing takes a lot out of you. I actually don’t know where I would be without it.”
When Jose Jr. (his brother) signed a pro contract, he and Jose Sr. moved to Los Angeles to pursue his pro career, and something back home happened to David. He stopped boxing. He stopped going to the gym. He stopped everything.
“And blew up to 250 pounds,” David said, almost embarrassed. “I only had 10 amateur fights and I boxed my whole life, since I was three. I sparred Gennady Golovkin when I was 14, and [Roman] ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez, Kelly Pavlik, Gabriel Rosado. I sparred them all when I was young. To me, I always wanted their respect. I didn’t want to be that little kid that they were working with.
“I never took a break from boxing. I was training my whole life up to that point. I really didn’t have any bad habits, other than eating cake, candy, and fast food. I was eating too much, and when my brother and father moved, I lost my discipline. I gained 100 pounds in about a year. When my father saw me, he was furious. It was a little funny, because my brother, being a big brother making fun of the little fat brother, called me ‘fat boy’ or ‘fat ass.’ I had to do something about it. I didn’t want to be the next Butterbean. I felt like I disappointed my father.”
It took David about a year to shed the weight. By the time he was 16, when he turned pro in Mexico, he was down to around 170 pounds. Benavidez learned a valuable life lesson.
“I couldn’t even recognize myself, it’s then that I decided I had to something about the weight and how I looked,” David said. “Dieting was hard, especially when you’re a kid. My father was super strict. I didn’t think I could take the dieting anymore, so I had to decide that if I wanted to be a great fighter, this is what I had to go through. I was still good at boxing. I was just fat. When I was close to giving up, I told myself to give it a little more time.”
“That experience of losing the weight made me how I am today, because I was a kid who overcame an obstacle and I use that as an advantage,” Benavidez said. “When I lost the weight, I also started getting taller. I look back lately on what I went through and the dedication I put into losing he pounds, and the times I told myself one day I can be a champion.”
“It feels amazing to win this title,” Benavidez said, according to Showtime. “It’s everything I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid. It’s everything I’ve dedicated myself to and I’ve worked hard for. It finally paid off.”
See a mix of Davids outstanding performances below: