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How Eddie Alvarez’s Kensington Roots Inspired Him to Fight For His Dreams

For most Philadelphians, the image of Rocky is pure fiction, or at the very least a statue at the bottom of the Art Museum steps. But for a kid growing up in Kensington, Rocky was more than a fictitious role model—he was a dream.

The spirit of his neighborhood, a “fighting town,” as he calls it, is what powered Eddie Alvarez to pursue his training to be an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter.

“It influenced my work ethic because it was very blue-collar and hard-working,” he says. “I learned early on that everything worthwhile you have to work hard for.”

After wrestling at Northeast Catholic High School for four years, Alvarez continued to train—this time in combat sports. He trains in gyms throughout the city in mixed martial arts, kickboxing, boxing, and Jiu-Jitsu.

“I always knew I wanted to be a fighter,” Alvarez says. “Fighting is my quest to find out who I am and challenge myself.”

That determination and drive are what led him to become a two-time Bellator MMA Lightweight Champion and, now, a UFC champion defending his Lightweight title.

But even more valuable than the titles and belts Alvarez has collected over the years is the memories he’s made in his sport, the practice he’s put in and the opportunities he’s made for himself on the path to achieving his dreams.

“I never believed I was an underdog. I knew what I was capable of and I knew it was possible because of all my hard work,” he says.

Look at any fighter commentary on Alvarez pre- or post-fight and they’re all in agreement: He’s one tough opponent. Endurance isn’t just a physical challenge in fighting; it’s a mental game as well.

Where does that power come from? Alvarez isn’t just fighting for himself—his wins aren’t always about proving he’s better than his opponent in the ring, or the title he’s securing. Eddie Alvarez fights for his family, his neighborhood and to prove there’s a bright future for every kid with big dreams.

Visit the Honda display at the Philadelphia Auto Show February 3 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. to hear a live performance from The Voice finalist Audra McLaughlin, and February 4 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. to catch up with former UFC Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez.