TULARE, California. (KSEE) – On Tuesday night, the Central Valley is rallying behind a Tulare boxer as he competes on the world’s biggest stage.
Mission Oak High School in Tulare is hosting a watch party for alum Richard Torrez Jr. as he takes on Kazakhstan boxer Kamshybek Kunkabayev in the men’s super heavyweight semifinals.
“Nobody sees the sweat and the blood and the tears that happen behind the closed doors of a gym, they only see when he dances in front of the lights and it is just awesome the community is supporting him it makes him feel like it is a reward. He feels like he is getting a million bucks,” said Torrez Jr’s father, Richard Torrez Sr.
When Torrez Jr, also known as Kiki, steps into the ring for the men’s super heavyweight semifinals he will officially be an Olympic medalist.
“It feels like it took forever to get to the Olympics and now it is like, ‘Oh, here we go.’ It’s real. It is a dream come true,” said Kim Torrez, Torrez Jr’s mother.
It has been 17 years since a USA fighter stood on the top of the podium in men’s boxing.
With a win on Tuesday night, Torrez Jr. will have a shot at gold, and a spot on a mural downtown, showcasing Tulare natives and Olympic gold medalists Sim Iness and Bob Mathias.
With a loss, Torrez Jr. will bring home a bronze medal.
No matter the outcome, the whole city, including his former teachers, is in his corner cheering him on.
“Go for it Richard… just go for it Richard because you have the power,” said Michael Conn, Torrez Jr’s former high school teacher.
The fight is scheduled to begin at 11:18 p.m. on Tuesday.