Jose Ramirez is arguably the biggest ticket seller in US boxing, and on Friday he returns to BoxNation when he makes the first defence of his WBC Super-Lightweight Title against Antonio Orozco (27-0).

More than 14,000 fans are expected to be inside the Save Mart Arena, Fresno, California cheering on their idol when he risks the belt he won by outpointing Amir Imam in March.

Here are 12 things you may not know about boxing’s blue collar hero, who besides being a top fighter, is a social activist.

1) He first boxed at the age of eight, but walked out of the gym believing he wasn’t good enough and had been "totally embarrassed". He returned the following week and hasn’t looked back.

2) His family are Mexican immigrants who made ends meet by picking fruit in fields in Avenal. His father worked 17-hour shifts spraying chemicals.

3) Jose’s mother, Juanita still feels the effects of a car crash while she was five months pregnant with Jose.

Ramirez and motherRamirez and mother

4) Aged 14 he joined them in the school holidays to help put food on the table. "I went out to work, picking bell peppers from 5 in the morning all the way until 3:30 in the afternoon. I was getting home at 4 in the afternoon and then going to the gym at 4:30. That was my day during summer," Ramirez recalled.

5) The local farming community is close to his heart and he speaks vocally over a drought in Central California dubbed ‘water wars’ between farmers and environmentalists. He works with the California Latino Water Coalition.

6) He wanted to be the first family member to graduate but dropped out of college despite promising, but now organises a scholarship fund to help poor immigrants get a good education.

Ramirez punch

7) He was part of the US mens team at London 2012 Olympics, losing to Uzbekistan’s Fazliddin Gaibnazarov in the Round of 16.

8) Even though Errol Spence was in the team, Ramirez was the ‘Golden Boy’ and went to the Games with $1 million of endorsements from blue chip firms including McDonald’s and Nike. Despite the financial backing he still worked part-time in Starbucks to make extra cash.

9) Friday’s defence will be his first with Robert Garcia training him, after splitting with Freddie Roach earlier this year.

10) In the gym he has sparred with many of the world’s best including Miguel Cotto, Jorge Linares and Manny Pacquiao.

11) He is now has father and has a young son, Matteo who is approaching his third birthday.

12) Last month he bought a brand new Nissan Sentra car so it could be raffled to help pay for the reconstruction of a church in Avenal.

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