Much has been said about how Eduard “Landslide” Folayangovercame poverty and hardship to be where he is right now.
His opponent, Eddie “The Underground King” Alvarez, knows all about that as well.
Folayang and Alvarez will be battling in the semifinals of the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix in one of the featured bouts at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES on 2 August at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines.
Before becoming a megastar in mixed martial arts – Alvarez grew up in the neighborhood of North Philadelphia, where problems with crime and drugs grew exponentially during his formative years.
“Growing up in the neighborhoods in North Philadelphia was okay, and then there was a major change when I was about 7 or 8 years old,” Alvarez said through an interview with ONEFC.com
“The area became really drug-ridden. Heroin made its way into the neighborhood and basically deteriorated the whole neighborhood into a poverty-stricken, drug-driven area.”
With the help of his parents, Alvarez managed to hurdle it and has found a direction through martial arts, where he racked up World Titles in the UFC and Bellator.
But his quest for greatness does not end there – wanting to prove that he is the best in the world at what he does, he eventually found his way in The Home Of Martial Arts where he is now looking to leave a mark.
“I understood that where I’m from, failure was very common and that it was more likely that I would fail than I would do well. That was a huge motivating factor in my life,” Alvarez explained.
“I know I had to work twice as hard – three times as hard as everyone else to make it, or to at least get out of that neighborhood.”
His life story might even pass as the real life Rocky – Hollywood’s favorite feel-good sports story.
Like Rocky, Alvarez struggled heavily but eventually made it work through sheer determination and relentlessness.
“Rocky was filmed in my neighborhood in North Philadelphia, so fighting, that’s what we did,” Alvarez says.
“I grew up on Rocky – working hard and the victory at the end of it all. I love that. I love that story. I watched it over and over.”
And just like Rocky, Alvarez overcame everything.
“I defied the odds,” he said. “I’ve made a good life for me and my family. Maybe Rocky is living the Eddie Alvarez story.”