Before he could ever sell records, Marc Anthony had to learn to fight. The svelte, Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter may blend in among his A-list peers today, but growing up in his old stomping ground of East Harlem in the ’70s and ’80s, a skinny kid named Marco Antonio Muñiz was getting stomped.
In the macho culture of New York’s largest predominantly Latino neighborhood, Anthony’s wiry frame made him a target. “In Latino culture—back then, anyway—being skinny was seen as a kind of weakness for some reason,” he says. “There were people who would test you.”
Anthony’s father, a former amateur bodybuilder, got his son started with some basic exercises. By the time the young musician was 9 years old, he could bang out triple-digit pushups in a day, but he still struggled to bulk up. He wasn’t exactly genetically predisposed—his dad, after all, competed as a 105-pound bantamweight—but the real lesson Anthony’s father was teaching him was confidence. “My dad was confident, and I think it takes somebody like that to weigh 105 pounds and enter a fucking bodybuilding contest,” he says. “So what I never lacked was confidence.”
During the course of his 26 -year recording career, Anthony has become one of the most successful performers in the world, selling more than 12 million records worldwide. His first English language solo album in 1999, Marc Anthony, which featured the hit singles “I Need to Know” and “You Sang to Me,” went triple platinum and helped ignite a turn-of-the-millennium Latinpop explosion that ushered in crossover artists like Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin.
Despite his musical accolades, including two Grammy Awards and four Latin Grammys, it’s Anthony’s high-profile personal life that’s brought the top-selling salsa artist more attention, particularly his 2004 marriage to fellow Puerto Rican singer and longtime friend Jennifer Lopez. The couple had twins, Emme and Maximilian, but divorced in 2012.
In addition, Anthony has three other children from past relationships: two boys, Cristian and Ryan, with ex-wife and former Miss Universe Dayanara Torres; and his eldest daughter, Ariana, from an early relationship with Debbie Rosado, an NYPD officer.
Through it all, Anthony, who recently dated Topshop heiress Chloe Green, has remained tight-lipped when it comes to his personal life. “The people I’ve ended up in relationships with are human beings. They’re not conquests,” he says, but he attributes any success with the opposite sex to charm, not looks.