TULARE, Calif. (KGPE) –When Richard Torrez Jr. steps into the ring, you’d think his movements are just reflexes by now. But every step, every punch, is a strategically choreographed dance to the rhythm of a stream of thoughts that won’t let him stop.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” the 22-year-old says. “You start thinking about all the things you sacrificed, about all the hard work and dedication.”
The Tulare native made the valley proud during his run in Tokyo at the Olympics. The heavyweight silver medalist is a third-generation boxer who is not only proud of his family’s background in the sport, but also of his Mexican roots.
“I’m the first Mexican-American super heavyweight to stand in a podium and I’m proud of that accomplishment.”
His grandfather was Manuel Torrez, a Southwest USA Golden Gloves champion. His dad, Richard Torrez Sr., tried out for the Olympics in 1984 and is now his coach.
“My dream has always been to go to the Olympics,” said Torrez. “It was my dad’s dream, it was my grandpa’s dream.”
For Hispanic Heritage month, Torrez reflects on those generations-old dreams, dreams bringing two cultures together.
“Being a Latino, being Mexican-American isn’t just part of who I am, it is who I am. It’s my DNA,” he said. “So I’m very grateful to be able to say that we got on the podium together, you know? And it wasn’t just me.”
The Olympic silver medalist knows he’s had the valley community in his corner all along.
“As soon as I got back home, the amount of support of everyone just being there and saying, ‘thank you’ or ‘congratulations,’ it was incredible,” he said. “And I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to all these people — it’s been insane.
“Some parents at the store, they’ve handed me their baby to take a picture with them. That was amazing, that was really cool,” he laughs.
The Mission Oak High School alum is now back at the gym, training four hours per day working on turning pro.
“We’re talking to promoters, we’re talking to managers, and signing will come soon, he said.”
He says he’s ready to continue making a name for his hometown.
“I’m the one in the ring, but behind there, there’s a whole community. In Tulare, you can have Olympians here still.”
And so, keeping his roots in mind –“La sangre de un mexicano y el corazón de un campeón” — the Tulare champion looks ahead to the future. He is proud of his Mexican heritage and the fighting heart that make Richard Torrez Jr. who he is today.