LOS ANGELES – As Mexico approaches its Independence Day on September 16, local Mexican Americans got an early start celebrating at the 73rd annual East L.A. Mexican Independence Day parade.

This year, a new leader took the throne as grand marshal, the now globally renowned Andy Ruiz Jr., the first Mexican American heavyweight champion in the world. His boxing victories attracted many fans at the parade. 

Andy Ruiz Jr. won the boxing heavyweight championship in June, and has been busy connecting with his community since then.

“It feels good you know, ever since I was a little kid I always had a dream, I always knew I was going to do something great,” Ruiz said.

He is now sharing that greatness with his family and community. Fans of all ages enjoyed the East L.A. parade with Ruiz, many of them looking up to him for having fulfilled his dreams as a first generation Mexican American.

“It comes with a lot of responsibility. The main thing I’ve got to do is stay focused and stay humble. I always give God all the glory because without him I wouldn’t be here,” said Ruiz.

Perhaps his greatest fan, is his mom.

“I’m so proud of him and I knew that he was going to be something,” said Felicitas Ruiz.

Felicitas says when she sees him on TV, she is in awe that her son fulfilled his dreams, though she never doubted he could. She was a believer from day one, given his extraordinary strength as a child.

As the parade celebrated the many colors of Mexican culture, Ruiz says he aims to uplift his community with a message of perseverance.

“I just give hope you know. That’s what I want to do. Give hope to the kids. And let everybody know that it is possible. Because when everybody doubted me, when everybody said that I wasn’t going to do nothing, it just gave me this bigger motivation,” said Ruiz.

Now the younger generation is motivated. One fan named Uriel Reyes says he believes he too can achieve his dreams because of Ruiz.

“He does inspire me because I like to box and I would always dream about trying to become a professional boxer,” Reyes said.

Uriel dreams, and fans celebrate. As for Ruiz, he is looking ahead for his next match in December.

“The ultimate vision is still becoming the heavyweight champion of the world. Being humble. And at some point helping my community and my Mexican people around the world, especially the border,” said Ruiz.

Yet no matter the outcome, Ruiz has forever changed history for the Mexican American community. 

The defending champion has a rematch planned with Anthony Joshua, set to take place in Saudi Arabia on December 7.