Most boxers step inside the ring for fame, fortune, and glory. Mexican-born fighter Ray Beltrán step inside the ropes for another reason: to get a green card.
ESPN recently profiled Beltrán’s journey into the United States and his fight to stay in the country. After finding his way across the border with his parents at age 16 and setting up in Phoenix, Arizona, Beltrán began boxing as a way to solidify his foothold in the United States.
The 36-year-old boxer from Los Mochis, Mexico, is currently in the country on a temporary P1 work visa, because he is recognized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as an “internationally known” athlete. What Beltrán is chasing, however, is an EB-1 green card, which would grant him permanent residency in the US, allowing him to remain close to his wife and three young children, who were all born north of the border.
With each fight that passes, Beltrán puts his resume as an “extraordinary athlete”–one of the stated reasons for granting a green card–on the line as he looks to strengthen his case for permanent residency. Before submitting his application, he hopes to win another fight or two in order to bolster his chances.
“We believe Ray is definitely there and will meet the burden that he qualifies as an extraordinary boxer, who is one of a very small percentage of fighters on the top whom possess these extraordinary and unique skills and abilities,” said Beltrán’s immigration attorney Frank Ronzio. “Ray has unique (set of) virtues and is a wonderful role model portraying a positive image in his community, and his blue-collar image will show those how one fights to stay in this country and make it his and his family’s dream.”
Beltrán first gained recognition in the boxing world for being one of Manny Pacquiao’s top sparring partners but soon made a name for himself in the lightweight division, eventually fighting for a title twice. Although he lost both title matches, the Mexican has been able to accumulate a solid resume with a 33-7-1 record and 21 KOs under his belt.
Every time Beltrán steps into the ring, he puts his residency at risk, as he is trying to prove to an anti-immigrant government that he is elite enough to be considered for the EB-1. His next chance to strengthen his case comes Saturday, when Beltrán will face off against former interim junior lightweight titleholder Bryan Vasquez (35-2, 19 KOs) at the Microsoft Theater at LA Live in Los Angeles.
Read ESPN’s profile of Beltrán and his fight for a green card here.