Abner Mares has accomplished so much during his 13-year professional boxing career.
He has fashioned a record of 31-3-1 with 15 knockouts; won world titles in three divisions (bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight); been involved in several major fights on the biggest stages, including his exciting rematch with Leo Santa Cruz on June 9 at Staples Center in Los Angeles; and made millions of dollars.
While Mares has gained fame and fortune and carved out a comfortable life for himself and his family in Southern California, he also has spent time giving back to his community with the various charitable causes he is involved in. He is known throughout boxing as one of the good guys.
He also knows that in a different time his life could have been so much different, which is why it breaks his heart to see what is happening now at the United States-Mexico border. President Donald Trump's administration has only this week ended a heavily criticized policy of separating parents from children in families that crossed the border illegally.
Mares, who is on course to gain his U.S. citizenship next year, knows that he could have been one of those children sent to a detention center and separated from a mother who could have been deported.
"I came here without the proper documents and didn't speak English. Like so many women before her, my mother brought my brother, sister and myself here for a better life. Life wasn't easy, and we watched her work three jobs. We all did what we could. I would dumpster dive for bottles and cans to help pay for food. But it didn't matter, because we were working towards our dreams -- our American dreams." Abner Mares
When Mares was 7, his mother brought him, his brother and sister from Mexico to the U.S. in search of a better life. He is one of the success stories. He learned English, went to school and found a rewarding career. As he said, he found his American dream.
A fighter inside the ring, Mares now is trying to fight for those without a voice at the border.
"I came here without the proper documents and didn't speak English," Mares, who is now 32, said in a statement released this week. "Like so many women before her, my mother brought my brother, sister and myself here for a better life. Life wasn't easy, and we watched her work three jobs. We all did what we could. I would dumpster dive for bottles and cans to help pay for food.
"But it didn't matter, because we were working towards our dreams -- our American dreams.
"Now, as an American resident who will become an American citizen in 2019, as a father, a son and a brother, it makes my heart break to see and hear of the forced separation of parents from their children at the borders. We all have dreams; we all have family regardless of borders. What is happening at the borders of this country, of MY country, it is simply inhuman."
"I'm an example of the American and Mexican dreams combined, the North American dream. I have a successful career in boxing, and a successful business in the United States and Mexico that employs both American and Mexican citizens. I am lucky enough to have a loving family that is happy, healthy and together. As a father and human being I can't stay silent, and I cannot condone what is going on. ... Putting children of any age in a prison camp is not what we as caring humans do."
Mares went on to say, "The founders of this country said that we are all 'one people, under God, indivisible' and that there is indeed, justice for all. The symbol of our country, the Statue of Liberty, herself, says to bring us your poor, your huddled masses. Are we to remove that saying, ignore that line, that sentiment? This isn't unity, this isn't diversity, this is division. This is going against what God asks of us as humans. The trauma these children and adults face will haunt them for their lifetime."
Aware there are millions with less of a voice than his, Mares has a message for his fans.
"I join the world and condemn the unjust imprisonment of children and ask all my fans, followers and supporters to call their elected officials -- Congressmen and Congresswomen, Senators, House Representatives, Councilmen, Mayors and Governors. Your voice MUST be heard."
He urged that the government put into place a policy or law that says that no family seeking asylum or crossing the border should be separated from their minor children.
"It is not illegal to seek asylum at the border of any country," Mares said. "These people are not criminals. They are seeking asylum, a better life. It is not their fault the immigration system of the United States is broken and Congress has been unable to agree on a humane solution. They are innocent. They are children."
Mares was once one of those children and he knows his life could be very different -- much worse -- had his mother tried to bring him here now instead of all those years ago.