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Rafael Vazquez fighting for a higher purpose

Rafael Vazquez poses during press conference to promote

Rafael Vazquez poses during press conference to promote the "International Fight Night" boxing card at the RW Casino at Aqueduct. Credit: Taylor Hallman

Featherweight contender Rafael Vazquez is motivated by many things. But being the best boxer in the world, believe or not, isn’t at the top of the motivational list.

Vazquez has a 5-year-old daughter with autism. She has given him a completely different perspective on life and where he fits in.

Said Vazquez: “When I was young I was running the streets crazy. But when my daughter was diagnosed with autism at a year and eight months I just did a 360…“It made me a changed man. I think differently. Everything I do is for my family.”

Vazquez has donated a portion of every purse to autism research since turning pro two years ago. He said he’ll donate 20 percent of his purse on Saturday to autism research. Vazquez (8-0, 6 KOs) will take on Jhovany Collado in a six-round bout on
Saturday night at the R.W. Casino at Aqueduct Raceway.

In addition to donating money to autism research, Vazquez has also held fundraisers to raise awareness.

“I did a fundraiser with Luis Collazo,” he said. “I also did one where I live at a park in Howard Beach. We donated the money to New York Families for Autistic Children.”

Vazquez, 34, lost his parents at an early age, has been in jail and he admitted he lacks traditional educational skills.

“I left boxing for a long time. Two years ago I decided to come back,” said Vazquez. “I fought in the Golden Gloves with no trainer just to see what I had left. I made it to the semifinals. I knew that if I train I can be better.”

Vazquez said boxing is all he has right now, which was part of his decision to return to the sport.

“I have no education,” said Vazquez. “When I was going to school every year you pass through grades without doing any homework, because the Board of Ed was messed up back then.”

Vazquez, who went to Bushwick and Thomas Jefferson High Schools before finally graduating from Canarsie, said he made it through school without completing much of the required work.

Said Vazquez: “I made it to 12th grade and they gave me a diploma. I can’t read that much, can’t write much, but [boxing] is all I got. My daughter gave me the power and the focus to get back…She’s been a blessing.”

New York Sports