Exclusive Feature

Edgar Berlanga: The Humanitarian Behind the Champion

Super-middleweight contender and champion Edgar Berlanga is known for his impressive professional boxing record of 20-0, undefeated. With 16 consecutive first-round knockouts, Berlanga beat Mike Tyson’s impressive record of 13 first-round knockouts within his first 14 matches. This boxer is no doubt a beast in the ring, making a name for himself with hard work, passion, and determination. Those same qualities that have made Edgar Berlanga a successful competitor in the ring are also the same qualities that have inspired him to give back to his community where he donates his time, money, and efforts to support important foundations in his local area.

Growing up in the Lower East Side of Brooklyn, Berlanga began boxing when he was seven years old. As an aspiring Puerto Rican boxer, Berlanga looked up to some of the greatest champions in the sport, Miguel Cotto and Félix “Tito” Trinidad. In our interview, Berlanga explained how his dad put him in the gym and really pushed him to pursue boxing. By the time he was 19 years old, he started his professional boxing career.

One of the greatest champions to inspire Berlanga was Floyd Mayweather. He said, “Watching Mayweather, I loved the cockiness and how he always backed it up. He showed his dedication to the sport of boxing and was always a hard worker. That’s what always caught my eye.”

While dominating in the sport for six years, Berlanga is most grateful that boxing has given him the opportunity and outlet to provide for his family. He said, “I got a one-year-old, and that’s the most important thing for me right now. I love boxing. This sport gives me the opportunity to help my family, and that’s what keeps me going.”

Edgar Berlanga is a dedicated family man, and after experiencing a terrifying health scare with his newborn son last year, Berlanga’s shown how dedicated and passionate he is about helping sick children in need.

He’s had the opportunity to work closely with the Cristian Rivera Foundation, a non-profit based in New York City dedicated to funding research and trials which aims to find a cure for a rare pediatric brain tumor, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma or DIPG. This foundation was founded by John “Gungie” Rivera who was inspired by the life of his son Cristian after he was lost to this horrific disease in 2009.

One of the Cristian Rivera Foundation’s DIPG/DMG warriors is Jesselyn Silva, who was on her way to becoming an Olympic champion prior to her diagnosis, and Edgar Berlanga has been an exceptional support and encouragement to her during the biggest fight of her life.

In June, before Berlanga defeated Roamer Alexis Angulo by unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden Theater, Champion Boxer and Warrior Jesselyn Silva was invited to a press conference for Top Rank, where she was awarded an honorary championship belt by the WBO. Berlanga had the honor of presenting Jesselyn the belt.

He then invited Jesselyn to his walkout at Madison Square for his fight. Edgar got to connect with Jesselyn at the press conference and encouraged his fellow boxers to fight for her that weekend. Watch the video of him presenting her with the honorary championship belt.

After speaking to CRF’s founder, John “Gungie” Rivera, Berlanga was touched that he was able to support Jesselyn. He said, “John was telling me that little Jesselyn’s met a lot of people, but no one has touched her the way I’ve touched her, spiritually. The energy, vibes, and love that I gave to that little girl—she never had that with anybody, and it was just natural. That’s who I am. That’s who Edgar Berlanga is.

“I love the kids. When I was their age, growing up, I always wanted somebody that was a public figure or a star to be how I am with the kids,” Berlanga continued. “I never had that, so now that I’m in that position to shed light on these kids and give them hope and give them motivation and talk positivity to them, I am all for it and willing to do whatever it takes to get somebody to the next level. I have that power now to bless kids and be there for them. That’s one of my motivations, to change kids’ lives.”  

During our interview, Berlanga discussed how excited he was to be invited by John “Gungie” Rivera to present the 2022 CRF Warriors Award to Jesselyn Silva this year at the Cristian Rivera Foundation’s 13th Annual Celebrity Gala on November 16th. This is his first time being an award-presenter at the Gala, and he is eager to be a part of this high-profile event to support the Cristian Rivera Foundation in its mission to cure DIPG.

The Celebrity Gala is the Cristian Rivera Foundation’s largest fundraising vehicle every year, where they collaborate with high-profile attendees to put on a night of red-carpet entrances, touching stories and testimonials from DIPG families, entertaining and inspirational performances, and items and experiences up for auction—all of this to provide an amazing and profitable experience for both the guest and foundation supporting the research and treatments of DIPG. For more information about this event, visit the Cristian Rivera Foundation’s website here.

In addition to his work with the Cristian Rivera Foundation, Edgar Berlanga is going to purchase turkeys and give them away to poor families in his hometown, the Lower East Side. In our interview, he said, “Right now, my name is so big in life, period. I’ve caught a lot of attention from a lot of different people, but the one thing I’ve always wanted to do was to come back to where I’m from and give back. I’m focusing on this turkey drive now in the Lower East Side where I’m from. I just want to give back to my community.

“You hear people say that those who make it out of the hood forget to come back and give, and that’s something that’s very important to me. I feel like God has given me opportunities and has blessed me, so I feel like I got to bless other people now.”

As a proud Puerto Rican, Edgar Berlanga’s heart is heavy with the tragedy and devastation of Hurricane Fiona on his island, Puerto Rico. In our interview, he discussed all he’s doing to support those affected by the storms and hurricanes plaguing the country.

“It’s devastating. There are so many people struggling over there right now. I have family members out there struggling, like my cousins and uncles whose roof was ripped off one of their houses. Now, I’m trying to go out there next week to help. There’s a GoFundMe that we are doing. There’s a guy called Crazy Legs from the Bronx, and he has a GoFundMe for relief aid. I was telling Crazy Legs that we’re doing something good, and we should go out there and be the ones giving everything out.”

Please consider donating to the people of Puerto Rico through their GoFundMe Page.

Berlanga is excited for the future and all these opportunities he has to give back to his community. As someone ranked as one of the top ten super-middleweight boxers in the world, it’s no question that this champion is a tough competitor, but outside of the ring, he has a big heart.

“I’m happy where I’m at,” Berlanga said. “A lot of fighters coming from New York don’t make it that far. They always get side-tracked by stuff or take a loss, but I’m 20-0. I’ve made a big mark in the boxing world, and that’s my reward.”

Edgar Berlanga sure has made his mark on the world— inside and outside of the ring.

Share:

Recent Articles

“A Bronx Tale” Star, Joseph D’Onofrio: Where is He Now?

From his role as “Slick” in A Bronx Tale to playing young Joe Pesci in Goodfellas, Joseph D’Onofrio is known for his extensive and accomplished acting career, landing roles in other iconic movies like Jungle Fever, Analyze That, The Deli, Wannabes, and Spider-Man to name a few.

Freedom Williams: International Musician Making his Legacy as the Owner of C&C Music Factory 

Freedom Williams is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and actor who gained fame as the lead singer and rapper for one of the hottest groups of all time, C&C Music Factory. Thirty years after the release of C&C Music Factory’s hit song, “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” Freedom Williams is still on the scene as an international musician performing and traveling the world, promoting C&C Music Factory as a relevant and international brand.

Hey! Are you enjoying NYCTastemakers? Make sure to join our mailing list for NYCTM and never miss the chance to read all of our articles!