Joseph Diaz, Jr. Fights The Good Fight
Born on November 23, 1993 in El Monte, California, Joseph Diaz, Jr. is the youngest member of the US men’s Olympic boxing team. Diaz was an underdog for most of his young life. Living under the struggling conditions of South El Monte can truly humble any resident, especially with its unemployment and poverty. But unlike most residents, Diaz and his family made the most of what they had rather than trying to attain things that they didn’t posses.
Before the boxing gloves, Diaz proudly wore a baseball mitt on one hand, and held a bat on the other in hopes of playing in the MLB. “I played baseball for about eight years. I was a pitcher, catcher, and a center fielder," he told BoxingScene about his baseball past.
But as much as he enjoyed his days playing baseball, school days and growing up weren’t exactly the upsides of his life. Being bullied, harassed and bruised by bigger kids lead Diaz to start physically training in order to defend himself. But through the all the times spent training in the gym, the undersized athlete soon found his true potential to be a boxer.
When realizing this sudden new love for the sport of boxing, Diaz had to be provoked as he was first challenged by a boy who had previously bullied him when he was younger. "Gave him a bloody nose! I made him cry.” Diaz told the Washington Post. “And ever since then, I just got excited. I was determined. I told my Dad, 'You know what? I’m focused on making this my dream.'”
The Southern California Native has had a solid career so far in his young life. Among his career highlights include a 2010 and 2011 National Championship, a 2009 junior Olympic championship, 2007 national Silver Gloves championship, a victory over the 2004 Olympic silver medalist Worapaj Petchkoom of Thailand, and beating Mexico’s Oscar Valdez Fierro — a 2009 world bronze medalist; a win that would later make him the first American boxer to qualify for the 2012 Olympics.
Like every other Olympic athlete competing this year, Joseph Diaz Jr’s goal is to bring home a gold medal for the US. But that’s not the only reason why this nineteen-year-old boxer is competing. In fact, it goes much deeper than that. "The thing that motivates me the most is just getting my family, with all their finances, helping them out," Diaz said. "Getting my mom and dad a new house. So I just think about getting the gold medal, think about helping my family out, think about the future that I'm going to have if I just stick to it."
As Diaz prepares for the Olympics, he doesn’t allow the fame to get to his head. Instead he reflects on his humble upbringings, troubled school days, and his family’s lifestyle to help keep him motivated and focused on what lies ahead.
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