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Canelo Álvarez Inspires Big Crowd at Hispanic Foundation Gala
STEVEN HEADSHOT 1
By Steven Sanchez
Published 4 weeks ago on
June 24, 2024

Boxing Superstar, Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez, speaks at the gala for The Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation at Table Mountain Casino on Friday, June 21, 2024. (GV Wire/Steven Sanchez)

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One of the biggest names in boxing, Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez, spoke at the gala for The Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation on Friday night.

His story inspired about 1,000 people attending the formal event at Table Mountain Casino. The FAHF was celebrating its first 20 years of existence and drew its biggest-ever gala crowd.

Steven Sanchez Portrait GV Wire

Steven Sanchez

A Night of Champions

The theme was The Night of Champions, a perfect fit for the foundation and its headliner. The foundation paid tribute to more than 30,000 small businesses whose entrepreneurs found a champion for their ideas and their dreams in FAHF over two decades. The foundation was the first bilingual business incubator in the western U.S.

The festivities kicked off with a beautiful Mariachi-style rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” performed by Trio Tesoro de Mexico, and the presenters were Dora Westerlund, president/CEO of the FAHF, and executive board chair Gerardo Hernandez.

Highlighting Canelo’s Achievements

They introduced Canelo with a highlight video showcasing his ring career and accomplishments as an entrepreneur and humanitarian. The tuxedo-clad champion entered the conference center to loud applause with his shades on.

Canelo Álvarez, left, is interviewed by Dora Westerlund, president/CEO of the FAHF, and David Preciado, community service manager, at Table Mountain Casino on Friday, June 21, 2024. (GV Wire/Steven Sanchez)

During the Q&A, the super middleweight champ talked about overcoming adversity, displaying resilience, working hard and achieving success. Among his many accomplishments, he’s the first professional boxer in history to become the undisputed champion at super middleweight — with the WBA and WBC titles since 2020, and IBF and WBO titles since 2021. He’s also one of the highest-paid athletes in the world, making Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid athletes in 2019, 2022, and 2023.

Canelo talked about what he’s done as a businessman and through his charity work. Hailing from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, he mentioned his upbringing in an entrepreneurial family with humble roots.

It wasn’t all just talk as Canelo and the interviewers cracked open and drank his brand of tequila-based canned cocktails, VMC (Viva Mexico Cabrones). The drink is described as “a celebration of Mexican heritage, tradition and flavors.”

Key to the City

The man of the hour was bestowed the Key to the City of Fresno. Mayor Jerry Dyer wasn’t able to attend but a video was played in which Dyer honored his overall achievements in and out of the gloves, and what he means to the Central Valley.

Canelo Alvarez received the Key to the City of Fresno at the FAHF gala at Table Mountain Casino on Friday, June 21, 2024. (GV Wire/Steven Sanchez)

“The accolades and your many accomplishments have transcended the sport and will forever be enshrined in boxing history,” Dyer said. “Beyond the ring, I admire how you value faith, family, and country. These are things that are near and dear to my heart as well. Tonight, it is my honor to present to you our most prestigious award, the Key to the City of Fresno.”

Paul Rodriguez Entertains the Crowd

Afterward, actor and comedian Paul Rodriguez took the stage and riffed on subjects such as politics, finding love, and not thinking Canelo was Hispanic at first glance. The bit that drew the biggest response? How Fresno is better than Bakersfield.

Actor and Comedian Paul Rodriguez entertains the crowd with jokes at the FAHF gala at Table Mountain Casino on Friday, June 21st, 2024. (GV Wire/Steven Sanchez)

As the event continued, the FAHF handed out awards for Business of the Year, Small Business of the Year, and scholarships. The gala concluded with music and dancing.

Star Power at the Gala

Someone who also represents the themes of perseverance and excellence is Kimberly Marquez. AKA Kimmie, she’s hosts “Middays with Kimmie” for radio station Q97.1 and is also a host, emcee, actress, and model. Her name is a brand and business onto herself. Very much like Canelo, she’s a Hispanic who’s had to overcome odds in order to succeed at a young age in her field.

Kimberly Marquez, AKA Kimmie, the host of “Middays with Kimmie” on Q97.1 attends the FAHF gala at Table Mountain Casino on Friday, June 21, 2024. (GV Wire/Steven Sanchez)

“My advice to those that want to succeed who are facing obstacles, it’s simple, don’t think about it too much. Have the mindset like you belong. Having the confidence and prove that you don’t need to make a way, but you deserve to be where you want to be. It gets you to where you want to go. When you think it, you can make it happen,” said Kimmie.

Local boxer Marc Castro attends the FAHF gala at Table Mountain Casino on Friday, June 21, 2024 (GV Wire/Steven Sanchez)

To add to the star power was Fresno super featherweight boxer Marc Castro, who is 12-0 as a pro with eight knockouts.

FAHF’s Commitment to the Community

For the past two decades, FAHF has been committed to developing strategies and policies to better serve Spanish and English-speaking business owners.

FAHF’s Confia initiative, launched during the pandemic, is extending the reach of empowerment to entrepreneurs in rural areas and is now expanding its programs and services. The proceeds from Friday night’s gala will support the programming offered by the foundation.

“It’s very important to come together like this. It gives us power. Together we can do more,” said Westerlund. “I believe when people come together it makes them more organized, we’re better equipped to help serve the community. Not just Hispanics but the minority population as well. That’s the growth and expansion of what our organization has been able to do.”

The Champion’s Impact on the Valley

Bringing Alvarez to the Valley was not only an indication of the foundation’s impact in the community but how he is a symbol of hope for those that want to thrive in the business world.

“I think the important message he brings is that he resembles the dreams and aspirations that the small business community and vendors in the area have. He represents that. His story aligns with our organization, him as a fighter, we fight for our community, and to show dreams can come true,” Westerlund said.

It truly was a night of champions.

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Steven Sanchez,
Content Manager/Entertainment Editor
Steven Sanchez, a resident of Clovis, graduated from Buchanan High School in the class of 2007 and obtained his film degree from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Steven is a multifaceted artist, working as a filmmaker, writer, photographer, videographer, and published author. He has a profound passion for movies, comic books, and rock ‘n’ roll. A dedicated football enthusiast, he cheers for the Las Vegas Raiders. In his leisure time, he indulges in reading and collecting vinyl records. Steven is often found attending rock shows in town, a keen enthusiast of live music. He holds a special fondness for his grandma's homemade meals and spending time with his twin sister.

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