Vázquez was born in Río Piedras, one of the largest districts of San Juan, but he was raised in Bayamón. Unlike most Puerto Rican boxers, he began practicing the basics of boxing when he was 18 years old. Vázquez began training on November 1978, two weeks after the death of his father, Juan Vázquez. His decision was directly influenced by his father's desire of having a son that practiced boxing. Juan Vázquez was a follower of Wilfredo Gómez and died shortly after purchasing tickets for his fight against Carlos Zarate. This affected Vázquez, who decided to mimic Gómez and win a professional world championship, drawing motivation from his accomplishments. He began training at Ruiz Soler gym, where he met several boxers that he regarded as "world class" material, but all of them failed to reach success after following other paths. As an amateur, Vázquez fought 17 times, losing three contests. He didn't pursue a spot in Puerto Rico's national boxing team, considering that at his age it would be hard to earn a spot, while being expecting to earn money quickly as a professional. Vázquez married Alice Lozada, with whom he has three sons, Wilfredo, Jr., Noel and Israel.