London Games await José Ramírez
Vida en el Valle
(Published Tuesday, May 15th, 2012 10:05AM)
José Ramírez, the boxing prodigy from Avenal, will represent the United States at the London Summer Olympics.
That became official last week when the 19-year-old boxer qualified for the U.S. boxing team after defeating Canada's Alejandro Rynn at the Continental Américas tournament in Río de Janeiro.
"My family, my loved ones and my determination to make my dream come through got me here," Ramírez said in an e-mail while in Brazil. "I feel amazing. I can't describe it. I'm still in shock and feel like I can win it all out here."
Ramírez -- whose 143 victories include 11 U.S. national titles, the last three USA Boxing men's national championships, and two Junior Olympic titles -- had to qualify for the Olympics in the AIBA Continental Américas' 132-pound division after losing to defending Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomanchenko at the 2011 World Championships last November in Azerbajian.
That meant his road to London went through Brazil.
Ramírez dominated Rynn, a 26-year-old boxer from México City fighting out of Calgary.
"He fought how I thought he would (with a) tight defense. He kept coming forward trying to power punch and smother my punches," said Ramírez, "but I out-boxed him, broke his defense with combinations and angles."
Rynn received three standing 8-counts. Ramírez won the three-round bout 23-11 on the scorecards.
Those near Ramírez -- like business adviser Rick Mirigian, who is in Brazil with Josés father, Carlos Ramirez -- believe they are witnessing the birth of a boxing legend.
"This story is one of the best in boxing at any level during any time," said Mirigian of the nation's top-ranked lightweight.
"You will read about it or watch it on the big screen some day. It's what dreams are made of."
Trainer and manager Armando Mancinas, a former corrections counselor, is not surprised that José made the Olympic team.
"It's the ethic of hard work and the importance of maintaining speed and power," said Mancinas, who is also Ramírez's godfather.
Mancinas, who started training Ramírez at the Kings Boxing Club when he was 8, did not make the trip to Brazil. However, he raised $1,000 to help Carlos buy a plane ticket. The entire group is expected to go to London.
The Ramírez home down the street from the boxing club houses more than 12 family members, all of them farmworkers.
Carlos Ramírez told his son that he needed to succeed to improve his life and not work in the fields.
"He quit the club when he (first started) because he got hit by a bag, but he came back about two weeks later," said Mancinas, "saying that bag is not going to beat him."
Ramírez has gotten the attention of big-time promoters Óscar De La Hoya and Bob Arum, who are bidding for a professional contract. Even Hollywood is knocking: Actor Mark Wahlberg and musician Sean Combs are looking to sign Ramírez to products, and ESPN has featured José in several stories. Legendary trainer Freddie Roach has even offered advice.
"De La Hoya told him, 'I hope you follow in my footsteps. You can do it,' and he was sort of handing over the sword. We went to his office, and we saw this big showcase of trophies," said Mancinas.
Ramírez will turn professional after the Summer Games. He will take about five to six months off, make a business decision then look at prospective opponents to launch his pro boxing career. So far, the entourage is keeping silent about any financial terms.
"They've been after him for the last two years. We're leaning towards Top Rank or Golden Boy. They both wanted José really bad, but we're looking at the best offer; not money-wise. It's putting him out there, a lot of branding. He's got the good looks, and he can attract the Mexican-American market," said Mancinas.
Ramírez -- who is pursuing a business degree at California State University, Fresno -- will compete in the professional ranks at 135 pounds.
Despite what happens at the Olympics, he wants to complete his education, but will leave his job as a barista at Starbucks in Kettleman City.
Six fighters from the United States qualified to the London Olympic Games from the tournament in Brazil.
Overall the U.S. will send 9 boxers this summer. There are 10 weight classes in the Olympics.
Australia qualified a boxer in each weight class.
Send e-mail to: