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JOSE ANTONIO RIVERA is a 3-time world champion boxer and an actor in the award-winning film THE FIGHTER starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. As a pro boxer, Jose won among other prizes the IBO Welterweight World Championship, WBA Welterweight World Championship and in 2006 the WBA Junior Middleweight World Championship in his hometown of Worcester, MA. Jose also works on the speaking circuit in the New England area. He is composing an autobiography about overcoming huge obstacles and winning his championships. His next fight is at the Mohegan Sun Casino in CT on Nov. 5th.
A BOXER’S SECRET by Jose Antonia Rivera
I have fond memories of soap operas. “General Hospital” was my program of choice because it started right when I got home from school. My aunt and female cousins always watched the show with me. I had moved in with them after my mother passed away when I was ten. Soap operas were one of the things that served as a common bond.
Whenever I stayed home sick from school, my aunt stayed home, too, and watched the soaps with us. I say “us” because when my cousin Angie stayed home sick, I suddenly didn’t feel well, either. My ploy was obvious and too funny, but I refused to let Angie watch the earlier soaps without me and then brag about what I had missed. On those “sick” days, we would lie on the sofa while my aunt ironed her wardrobe, watching TV the entire time.
As a boy, I never shared with my friends that I enjoyed watching soap operas. It was a little secret between my aunt, cousins, and me. Shhh!
For me, watching a soap opera was like watching a blockbuster movie. I had my favorite characters: Greg and Jenny from “All My Children”; and Luke and Laura from “General Hospital.” I can still recall the many times these couples broke up, and when they finally got married. I also remember the intrigue took place in the hospital, but not all of the specifics. There was lots of cheating, though. (My cousins and I were addicted to the drama and the inappropriate sexual behaviors that we watched.) And what would a soap opera be without the perfect villain? We all loved to hate Alan Quartermaine!
I enjoyed losing myself in the larger-than-life drama, adventure, comedy, and suspense of soap operas. Someone was always fighting an arch enemy, escaping a kidnapping, or getting stalked. Let’s not forget the dreaded Friday episodes. All week long, I would watch a story unfold, only to be left in suspense for an entire weekend. The nerve of those producers!
I haven’t watched soap operas since I was 14, but I look back on them with affection. They brought me closer to my aunt and cousins Miriam and Anita, at a time when I needed family around me.
(photos courtesy of the author)