Omar Figueroa Jr.’s mental health journey lifted him from ‘darkish locations’

Omar Figueroa Jr. had nowhere else to look. 

It led the previous WBC light-weight champion of the world to a life-altering determination. And, he hopes, a sport-altering motion. 

Coming off the primary two losses of his career, Figueroa Jr. couldn’t pinpoint the place he had gone fallacious in his preparation. Beyond the outcomes, it was the style by which he lost that caught him — and followers who had grown accustomed to his fearless, overwhelming type — abruptly. He was dominated within the two bouts, by Yordenis Ugas and Abel Ramos, shedding by way of unanimous determination and a nook retirement, respectively. 

Omar Figueroa in training ahead of his bout against Sergey Lipinets.
Omar Figueroa Jr. in coaching forward of his bout in opposition to Sergey Lipinets.
Photo Courtesy of Francisco Perez / Premier Boxing Champions

“After my last fight, everything just went horribly wrong during the fight,” Figueroa Jr. informed The Post. “I looked around, and my team did amazing stuff, my coaches did an amazing job, nutritionists did an amazing job, I was in the best shape of my life, you name it. Everything on the outside was taken care of. There was nowhere to look except inside.” 

The Texas native seeked out a psychologist, largely impressed after watching the 2021 Summer Olympics and Simone Biles’ determination to withdraw from competitors due to mental health issues. He had begun immersing himself in YouTube movies on the topic, and determined he was in want of assist. 

That determination opened the door for life-changing, and maybe even life-saving, discovery. 

Figeuroa was identified with bipolar dysfunction, ADHD, despair and PTSD. 

“That’s kind of when everything hit me at once, and I realized the power of mental health, and how much it had been affecting me, and affecting my career,” Figueroa Jr. mentioned. “That’s why I’ve always stressed that ignorance isn’t always bliss. Just because I didn’t know what the heck was going on with me, doesn’t mean that I didn’t have anything going on” 

The determination to hunt out a physician – and take a step again and momentary break from his career – got here simple to Figueroa Jr., who stresses he’ll do something to carry himself accountable and to verify he’s proper. 

To these across the 32-year-old, nevertheless, it was not as easy. 

Abel Ramos, right, punches Omar Figueroa Jr. during Figueroa's most-recent bout.
Abel Ramos, proper, punches Omar Figueroa Jr. throughout Figueroa Jr.’s most-recent bout.
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Omar Figueroa Jr.
Omar Figueroa Jr. raced out to a 28-0-1 report to start out his career earlier than shedding his final two fights.
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Figueroa Jr., of Mexican descent, acknowledges there may be nonetheless a stigma in his tradition surrounding males talking out and looking for assist for mental health struggles, and even admitting one thing may not be proper personally. So too, Figeuroa notes, is there an expectation for boxers – a sport dominated by violence, aggression, and trash discuss – to not admit to mental health struggles or to take care of them internally.

“That’s why I’m pushing the subject of mental health, and that’s why I’m advocating so much for mental health, because especially in Mexican culture, it’s something that we overlook so much,” Figueroa Jr. mentioned. “Even now that I’ve been identified, and I’ve the proof, the papers signed by the medical doctors, it’s typically sort of onerous to get by way of to my household concerning all these things. So that’s why I do my finest to try to get the phrase out. If I may help not less than one individual, then that’s a job nicely completed as a result of I understand how dangerous it’s, and I understand how onerous it could actually get, and I understand how tough it’s to get out of these darkish locations that mental health can result in. It’s been a hell of a experience, and it’s been price it.

Omar Figueroa Jr.
Omar Figueroa Jr. made varied adjustments throughout his newest coaching camp.
Photo Courtesy of Francisco Perez / Premier Boxing Champions

“Especially as boxers, we’re seen as these superhuman machines and it’s like, no! We’re still humans, we still feel, we still go through all these struggles. As great as it may seem on the outside, some days, me and my mind were just not on the same team, man. It doesn’t want to work with me, it goes through dark places, it goes through bad places, I’ve got to bring it out, and I’ve got to struggle with it. … I just want to normalize being human. And being human is hurting and crying and loving and being happy, it’s part of being human, it’s part of going through life, and if we can normalize that, if we can bring that to the mainstream and show people that’s it’s OK to be human, then I feel like we’ve won.”

After the longest break of his career (15 months), and with a brand new perspective on his life, Figueroa Jr. (28-2-1) returns to the ring in opposition to Sergey Lipinets (16-2-1) in a welterweight showdown as the primary occasion at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on Saturday evening (8 p.m. Eastern, Showtime). Ironically, Figueroa Jr. was scheduled to struggle former four-division world champion Adrien Broner, however Broner withdrew final weekend as a consequence of his personal mental health issues. 

Regardless of the opponent, Figueroa Jr. seems like a brand new fighter, and individual, re-entering the ring. 

Omar Figueroa Jr., left, squares off with Sergey Lipinets ahead of their bout.
Omar Figueroa Jr., left, squares off with Sergey Lipinets forward of their bout.
Photo courtesy of Esther Lin / SHOWTIME

He’s been extra vocal along with his staff, which is led by is father and coach Omar Sr., in sharing how he’s feeling and adjusting his coaching when wanted. He’s been way more relaxed, rekindling a ardour and drive for the game he had maybe lost. He’s been extra centered, his remedy and remedy permitting him to establish and correctly address distractions that come up. 

And all of it stems from that life-altering determination. 

“That’s exactly why I’m so excited about this,” Figueroa Jr. mentioned. “I want to see what I can do now that I am happy, now that I really get to enjoy myself. And finally, finally for the first time in 27 years of boxing, I get to say that I’ve enjoyed what I’m doing. So yeah, I feel like it’s going to be an amazing show regardless. No matter what, I’m going to go in there and try to make it as fun for myself as possible. And the fans already know that I love fighting. If I had it my way, we’re going to have a really exciting fight and things are going to be great and people are going to enjoy it.” 

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