Leon soccer player Rivero finds his niche in boxing
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
About 18 months ago, Leon High School soccer player Josmar Rivero decided he wanted to try boxing as a second sport.
He ended up at a gym where the concentration was martial arts mixed with a little boxing. He wanted more so he found himself at the Fighting Tigers Gym in Quincy.
He got a little roughed up in his first sparring session, but he admitted it turned on a light that convinced him he wanted to go on. The way he was pushed around in the gym reminded him of struggles his parents had gone through when they moved to Tallahassee from Mexico.
“All my life my parents fought for everything,” said Rivero, who has found a new gym at Brickhouse Boxing. “They went through the differences and their obstacles. I looked around and I never had an obstacle to go through.”
At least not until he got into boxing. He lost his first four fights, mostly against bigger and stronger opponents in the 152-pound class.
After shedding 12 pounds he had his first fight in the 140-pound class, winning by a technical knockout when his opponent refused to come out for the second round. Rivero had floored his man with a two-punch combination.
That was the validation that Rivero said he needed.
“After my first fight, I said yeah this is something I want to do,” he said. “I saw it was something more than me.
“It was more than joy. I won the fight fair and square. Winning by a knockout meant the world for me.”
Trainer Darnell Baker said he expects the victory to motivate Rivero even more. He has the work ethic to succeed. Most days when he goes to the gym he would have had a full afternoon of soccer practice with the Lions.
“He is one of those guys who will work until he gets it,” Baker said.
Told of Rivero’s comparison of his early struggles to that of his parents, Baker said the 19-year-old senior at Leon has the drive to overcome any adversity.
Indeed what his parents endured when promises made to them weren’t kept after they arrived from Mexico is plenty of motivation, Baker said.
“He has internalized that to be an outstanding young man himself,” Baker said. “He is excelling in school and he is excelling in soccer as well.”
Rivero has mapped out his future in boxing. He plans to fight to the elite level while attending college. A pro career in boxing will follow, he said.
He figures by then he’ll have enough experience to punch for pay.
“I think life is about taking your time,” he said. “I would have experience boxing and I would have known what it’s like to struggle.
“I don’t think I’ll ever give up boxing. It’s part of me now. If someone takes boxing away from me it’s like taking part of me away.”