“What did I get myself into?” was a common phrase constantly looping in my thoughts every time the ring announcer said my name in front of hundreds, even thousands of individuals. I won my first amateur fight, and I clearly recall thinking how lucky I was to still have my head attached and I believe the adrenaline rush lasted a few days. (Being an introverted middle school kid did not help). Twenty years later I still ask myself that question! I was up in the ring again, staring into the eyes of an upcoming prospect, with a one-hundred percent knockout ratio, eleven years younger than me, training in an exclusive all-world-champions team, while I balanced work, losing thirty pounds in two weeks, and parenting. I competed in several tournaments, and even charitable events to fund scholarships and food programs. I fought 287 amateur fights and lost 16 of them, with the first one in 1999 and the last in 2009. I was the local Golden Gloves Champ for 7 years straight, and often was invited to career fairs to show the potential of discipline. I fought 10 professional fights and lost my last 3. I had the honor of representing Texas in the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions back in 2004. I won four out of five fights by KO, but lost in the finals. The National Golden Gloves organization was very happy with my performance and awarded me the “Best Sportsmanship” award, as well as the first ever National Golden Gloves scholarship. The best part of being a boxer is that you get to travel a lot, and sort of get the celebrity treatment you see on tv. It’s sometimes difficult to explain why, but since boxing demands so much physical energy, you get to have everyone do everything for you; except punch your opponent. As a boxer, you spend several months getting ready for a tournament, or single fight, depending on the event. Boxers have the strictest diets, as we are required to drop up to 40 lbs in a month, and sometimes the last 10 overnight. “You can play football, soccer, or tennis… but you don’t play boxing” is a common saying, emphasizing on the severity of injuries if done wrong. Your hands are your weapons, and your shields. A fraction of a second decision is constantly made in front of thousands of persons in attendance, and millions around the world.
At the peak of my amateur career, it was difficult to get fights since I pretty much wiped all competition, so I would agree to fight just about anyone from anywhere, any time. Well, one day I received a call to drive to Lubbock, TX the following day to fill in as the local main event fight had dropped, and they were promoting a local champion, a U.S. Olympic runner up. I barely made it to the event, I did not even have time to weight in. Everything was rushed upon my arrival, so I started wrapping my hands, strapped my boots on and started warming up a bit. The event coordinator asked me what song I wanted, and I asked for any rock song, some Metallica or fast beat song works, but then I quickly realized I was in a rodeo, surrounded by Mexican fans. I quickly changed my answer to a more recognizable song by a Mexican group named “Los Tigres del Norte”. All seemed smoothed and planned. I was instructed to enter the ring when I heard my song. No more than three minutes pass when it played loud, followed by a chilling crowd roar. I approached the ring, as I vaguely hear my name being called. “Some one knows me here, that’s cool” I said. Then that same person screams my name, so I get all pumped up, thinking they might of heard about me or something. As I put my first step in the ring, I realized it’s the event coordinator, telling me “That’s not your song!!” I made my way back through the tunnel, and bumped into my opponent, wearing a black hat, with all his followers behind him, laughing at me. I quickly ended the fight on the second round and made my way back home. Just about the most embarrassing moment in my 17-year-old life.