By Jason A. Vrtis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
At last year's National Collegiate Boxing Association Championships in Harrisburg, Penn., UA boxer Fernando Quiroz was left all alone to celebrate his win.
This year, Quiroz will not have to worry about that, as many family and friends will be behind him as he defends his 119-pound division crown at this year's championships at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"When my family is there, it makes me work harder. I don't want to disappoint anybody," Quiroz said.
Quiroz captured the Western Regional Championships in Reno, Nev., in impressive fashion. That win gave him a berth in the Collegiate Boxing Association's own version of the Final Four. Quiroz's first match is April 7. However, he does not yet know who he is fighting.
Quiroz is training harder than ever and he hopes that the experience he gained in last year's championships will help him this time around.
"I was very nervous last year, but this year I am more focused than ever on my goals," Quiroz said.
Goals are very important to Quiroz, who hopes to use a victory at Nationals as a stepping stone into the Olympic Trials.
"I am hoping to get an invitation. Things like that only come around once. You have to hold on to those dreams," Quiroz said.
For Quiroz, the dream began when he was 7 and boxing out of a home-built gym in Fresno, Calif. The youngest of 12 children, Quiroz was guided by his older brothers, who saw something special in his boxing.
"I owe a lot to my brothers. They really pushed me and got me going," Quiroz said.
In Fresno, he won Golden Glove titles three years in a row and then, at the age of 14, he moved to Yuma, and with no facilities to further a boxing career, he left the sport.
However, while attending a UA boxing club workout last year, Quiroz got the "love" for boxing back and began training regularly again.
Like his hero, Oscar de la Hoya, Quiroz is a boxer who uses speed and technique to win fights.
"I like to work the body and come right at my opponents wearing them down. I think that gives me an edge," he said.
And just like de la Hoya did in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Quiroz hopes to win a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta for his mother, who passed away when he was a senior in high school.
"I had plans to go to college, become a doctor, and take care of her. I never got that chance," Quiroz said.
Under the tutelage of UA boxing club coach Tony Pinto, Quiroz will continue to train and compete over the summer to get him the experience he needs to compete in the Olympic Trials.
"He may not show it, but I can tell when he doesn't approve, so it makes me work that much harder," Quiroz said of Pinto.
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