by: John Rodriguez
The 2012 Summer Olympics are approaching, and for one Olympic hopeful the Summer games could be the beginning of a long and prosperous career. Being the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic Boxing team, Joseph Diaz Jr. is only 19-years-old has set out to attain and bring home the gold medal from the games in London which will beginning his professional career in boxing when he returns home.
A South El Monte, Californian native, Diaz began his boxing training as a means to defend himself due to his small stature, “I started (boxing) at 11 because I was small and they picked on me at school. Then, I wanted to learn to defend myself and…I met (the bully) who was bothering me in the gym,” and after he faced and beat his bully in the ring, Diaz continued his training which eventually paid off.
Although Diaz found boxing to be his calling, having won 106 boxing bouts out of his 110 fights as an amateur, his father dreamed he would go on to college with a scholarship playing baseball. “Now, he wants to make money as a pro and have a fan base. My plan for him was baseball, which proved not to be the same plan that he had for himself,” said Joseph Diaz Sr.
While he dreamed a different life for his son, Diaz Sr. still supports him since he is also his son’s trainer. “If we’re not in agreement on something, we talk about it and resolve it, because I can tell him everything that’s going on with me, something that perhaps I would not be able to do with another trainer,” said Diaz discussing how having his father as his trainer provides him with much more than being trained by someone else.
“I’m a trainer. I review what he eats. I seek sparring partners for him who have the proper weight. I ensure that he’s focused on what’s important and, above all, I don’t force him.” Joseph Sr. said, taking his training duties seriously. As his son’s trainer, Joseph Sr. has gathered information and video of his son’s boxing bouts in order to help his son prep for his future matches.
Even though Diaz has been crowned the national boxing champ in the Bantam weight category twice and coming in at 5th place during the 2011 World Championships in Azerbaijan, Diaz has trained for the Olympic Games by spending five hours a day on physical and technical training. “I’m focused on winning the gold in London and I know that if I lose it’s because my rival was better than me, and not because I was in bad shape. I feel strong and I know that I’m fast.”
Diaz’s first boxing match during the games is set for July 28th, but it is what comes after the match that Diaz is hoping to happen. With Oscar de la Hoya being one of his favorite boxers who has inspired him since he was little in East Los Angeles, Diaz hopes to follow in his footsteps and become as inspirational as him. “I want other Latinos to know that dreams can become reality and that the road to them is to remain humble and focused on the goal you’re trying to achieve.”
You can catch Diaz’s boxing match when it airs during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on the 28th of July.