Ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics, which are right around the corner, we’re slowly getting to know the impressive athletes that make up #TeamUSA’s illustrious roster. Among the many young and strong-hearted sportspeople of Latino heritage are the likes of gymnast Laurie Hernandez, weightlifter Sara Robles, hockey midfielder Melissa Gonzales, track runner Brenda Martinez, and today’s spotlight, boxer Nico Hernandez. Competing in the men’s light fly 49 kg for the first time at this year’s Olympics, here are five thing’s to know about the 20-year-old champ…
In life, we often trade the ones who were there when we were struggling, for those who only see our success. Let us not forget those who were the driving forces behind us, those who were there in bad times and good times; sad times and happy times. Let us continue to lift them up and help them to be successful and reach their full potential. #OGPat #Since2005
Born To Do This
Hernandez is a proud native of the largest city of Kansas, Wichita, where he grew up watching his uncle training in boxing. A determined individual since young, Hernandez began walking at only seven months and learned to ride his bike without training wheels at 2-years old. It’s no surprise he’s one of the most highly-anticipated fighters at the Rio Olympics! Convinced that boxing was his path at just 9, weighing only 50 pounds, his uncle decided to encourage his nephew and begin his intense training. After 3 months inside the ring, Hernandez won his first-ever belt, thus the beginning of his boxing career.
Gets Down And Dirty
When Hernandez isn’t breaking a sweat in his 316 gym, he’s working alongside his father as a lube technician at a trucking company. Even an Olympian needs some pocket change, right? Besides boxing, he likes to get involved in other draining sports including wrestling and cross country, both which he played in high school. He enjoys hanging out with friends and spending time with family since a lot of his time is spent traveling for fights. He also loves spending time with his pit bull in between training and traveling.
Besides being one of the youngest and most anticipated fighters in #TeamUSA, he’s apparently also great eye candy. The 20-year-old boxer has had his first taste of stardom, being voted as one of the 15 sexiest Olympian’s at the 2016 Olympics.
A photo posted by Nico Hernandez (@nicomhernandez) on
Family Above All
Training since the age of 9 with his father and his uncle right by his side, it’s clear that this is truly a family affair. Whether it’s his parents, his uncles or his sibling, family is without a doubt the core of his motivation to succeed. His greatest support system are always right beside him both inside the ring and out. To him, his family’s support has so much to do with where he is today. After witnessing his son’s triumphs, and how passionate he was for the sport, according to Fox News Latino, Hernandez father converted a fire station into a gym at North-side 316 to train his son.
“When I’m in the ring I’m just thinking about my family,” he shared in an interview with the Wichita Eagle, “and making a better life for them.” Today his father and uncle are still his trainers, something that challenged Hernandez when having to work with a different coach for #TeamUSA.
“The tweet came from my frustration that I’m not going to be able to train with my father as much as I want,” said Hernandez. “The way I look at it, that’s what got me here, so that’s what I want to continue with. No offense to the coaches, but I have trained with my father my whole life. I feel like he knows me and knows how I box better than anyone.”
Tatted Up With Reason
Hernandez also has a big interest in storytelling and art, specifically on his skin. His arms, chest and back tell a story of a young fighter, full of faith and love. If there’s one thing we’ve established, it’s how important and prioritized family is in his everyday life. His parents names are tattooed on his arms, his mothers name “Chello” surrounded by red roses. On his left arm, there’s an image of him kneeling in a ring with gloves on his hands and both arms spread open in the shape of a cross. To Hernandez, this image signifies his faith and how important prayer is to him as a fighter, especially before a match.
On his back there’s a large tattoo of two flags, a Mexican and an American flag with the words “In loving memory of Nico and Lewis” going across. The flags reflect his Latino roots, while the words are in memory of his late twin brothers which he was named after.
On his chest there’s clouds, with a quote from Philippians 4:13 and the word “blessed” going across. The “316” on his right calf is the area code of his hometown and finally, his latest ink on his shoulders is the Olympic symbol with the words “Rio 2016” which frankly speaks for itself.
— Nico Hernandez (@NicoTheBoxer) June 16, 2016
The Olympics will take place Aug. 5 – Aug. 21.