Op-Ed: Jake Paul Doesn’t Get To Represent Puerto Rico

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images; Art by Alan López for Remezcla

On March 2, after his fight with Ryan Bourland, Jake Paul told DAZN that he’s “repping Puerto Rico.” This happened as he challenged world champion Canelo Álvarez with “You’re repping Mexico. So it’s Puerto Rico vs. Mexico. I want Canelo.” And as he wore the Puerto Rican flag on the boxing trunks.

The YouTuber-turned-boxer moved to his $16-million-dollar mansion in Dorado, Puerto Rico, back in May 2023, but he and his brother Logan have been living in the archipelago for three years now. That doesn’t mean they’re Puerto Rican, and they certainly don’t get to represent Puerto Rico. 

It’s very well-known that the Paul brothers moved to Puerto Rico to take advantage of the tax benefits available to them via Act 22 (now part of Act 60 of 2019), which allows them not to pay federal income tax and on certain capital gains. While they have made grand investments in renovating several gyms across the island and created a non-profit based in Puerto Rico called Boxing Bullies, the truth is that they had to do all that. Act 60 demands its participants to donate at least $10,000 a year to a non-profit based in Puerto Rico. 

We could give them the benefit of the doubt and say they would have done this regardless of the rules because it came straight out of the goodness of their hearts. Still, that doesn’t change the facts: the Paul brothers receive major tax benefits that no Puerto Rican could ever dream of receiving. There’s no need to feel grateful for their contributions because it’s the least they could do. And no matter how much they take from us, somehow they still want more — Jack Paul is “repping” Puerto Rico in boxing and embracing the moniker “El Gallo de Dorado.” He matched this nickname in a recent fight with boxing trunks with red feathers. 

When I read that he had welcomed that nickname, I genuinely thought it was a joke. Puerto Rico has an extensive and profound history with boxing that no one can argue with — Ring Magazine even called it “the best boxing nation pound for pound.” There have been 11 Puerto Rican boxers inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and there’s no debate when it comes to Puerto Rico’s impact on boxing. It’s not simply a sport, it’s part of the culture. I remember what it felt like when the whole world stopped when there was a big fight — whether you were watching it with family in the living room or with friends at a bar. And when we won? Fireworks, yelling, shots, food, and celebrations all around.

All of this is to say, that we don’t need Jake Paul. If anything, Jake needs us, and we should be celebrating actual Puerto Rican boxers instead of allowing someone to come in and declare that they’re representing us.

It’s great that Jake is renovating gyms and helping kids with boxing dreams. It genuinely is. But let’s not pretend, he’s getting more out of this deal than Puerto Rico is getting from him — and not just for the tax incentives. He’s hoping that by embracing the nickname “El Gallo de Dorado” and saying he’s representing the boxing powerhouse that is Puerto Rico, it gives him some legitimacy in the world of boxing. Call me dramatic, but this is a perfect example of what colonizers do when the government favors them and leaves its citizens to die. And to be clear, I’m not saying he hasn’t worked hard to separate his jokester YouTube persona from his fighting career, but what he’s doing here is exactly what other gringos and conquistadors have done in the past — they’re taking advantage of a colony that’s already crumbling.