By: Hans Themistode
Boxing is a sport for some, but for others such as now retired fighter Jose Guzman, it is a way of life.
Growing up in New York City’s Bronx area, Guzman, was your typical trouble making kid. Mischief always seemed to find him, but it isn’t like he always tired too avoid it. Many parents would declare their child a problem, a no hoper. Destined to continue on his path to nowhere. That isn’t the route Guzman’s father wanted to take. Instead he saw his child’s constant bad behavior as an opportunity to channel his aggression towards something much more productive.
“Growing up I was always getting into fights and getting in trouble. My dad saw all of this energy I had and decided to bring me to the gym.” Said Guzman.
His father may have thought that he was simply finding an outlet for his son’s aggression but, he was actually placing him on a path that would shape his entire life.
Guzman quickly found out that boxing was his ultimate goal. The thrill of competing against another fighter pushed Guzman to a new level of focus. One he had previously never had before.
“As soon as I had my first fight, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I was in love with the sport of boxing.”
The professional record of Guzman does not paint a perfect picture. 6 wins against 14 defeats, coupled with one draw is not pretty. However, that record also doesn’t tell the whole story.
As an amateur he was a decorated one. Winning well over 170 fights against fewer than 30 losses. To put that in perspective, current WBA Super Featherweight champion Gervonta Davis had compiled a similar amateur record throughout the course of his amateur career as well.
From 2004-2005 Guzman was the number one ranked fighter in the USA. His trophy room is flooded with numerous accomplishments including a number of state and regional titles. He has fought a who’s who of well known fighters including Adrien Broner and Leo Santa Cruz in the amateur ranks.
After completing his amateur career he was highly coveted and was pegged to have a very successful professional career. Guzman was afforded his pick of the litter in terms of promotional agencies including Golden Boy Promotions. The standout amateur fighter opted to not sign with a promoter, a decision he would later say that he would soon regret.
“If I could do it over I would have signed with a promoter. When I would sign up for a fight a lot of the times I was the B side fighter. I would win the fight but most of the time I wouldn’t get the decision. I never had that promoter who had my back.”
After starting his career with just one win in his first five fight fights, it became clear that Guzman would not have as much success as a professional as he did as an amateur. As the losses mounted, Guzman still continued to stay in the gym and work on his craft.
Guzman picked up six straight losses before he was able to notch a victory against Vernon Alston. Even with his struggles Guzman continued to believe in himself. The notion to stop boxing never once crossed his mind. However, there was one incident that would change how Guzman viewed the world of boxing.
In 2015, highly popular Puerto Rican fighter Prichard Colon stepped into the ring. He was young, undefeated and truly making a name for himself in the sport at a young age.
His October, 17th 2015 matchup against Terrel Williams was viewed as nothing more than a formality. An easy win on paper. The contest was anything but that and turned into a nip and tuck affair. Several times throughout Williams would repeatedly hit Colon with illegal punches too the back of the head. Round after round, the illegal blows would ensue. In round nine Colon was deemed unable to continue. The aftermath of the contest resulted in Colon falling into a coma. Since then he has never been the same. It is something that has stuck with Guzman for a very long time.
“Honestly man, it scared me. Like I was never the same after that fight Colon had. When I would fight I always had in the back of my head that what happened to him could happen to me as well.”
Although Guzman’s career was not what many were expecting, with the tragedy of his friend Colon occurring, he quickly began to second guess his place in the world of boxing.
A fourth straight loss, this time at the hands of Michael Gardener, marked the end of Guzman’s pro career. 2016 was the last time he was seen in the ring as a fighter. Still, with his retirement he was only 27 years old and needed a way to make ends meet.
“At one point I was working at FedEx. I would just sit back like man, I was working all of my life to become a boxer and now I’m working in a factory. I was lost. I didn’t know what to do.”
It wasn’t until a friend reached out to him with a unique opportunity, one that he never seen coming.
“One day one of my friends calls me and says their looking for a trainer at this gym in Manhattan called Mendez Boxing. I went for an interview and I got the job on the spot. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was doing at first, but I would tell the guys to do everything that my father was making me do growing up. I never thought that I would be a trainer.”
The call Guzman received to work at Mendez effectively set him on a new course. He enjoyed the work that he was getting the chance to do but, there was one moment in particular that let him know that coaching was for him.
“I remember there was these competitions called haymakers for hope. It was a charity. We would get four months to train guys that have never fought before. I remember that on fight night, I went undefeated. All of my guys won. It was at that point where I said wait a minute I can do this. It was just a great feeling.”
The once outstanding amateur fighter has now taken his talents and experience to the coaching side of boxing. His once promising career is over, he has found his new calling and he not only is doing an outstanding job but he is loving every minute of it.
“I accept that my career is over. Now I’m training golden gloves champions. The last two years I was chosen to head out to the nationals for the New York Golden Gloves team. Last year we came back with the first place trophy. This year we came back with the second place trophy. I love what I’m doing. I’m helping kids stay out the streets and turning these regular people into champions. I love what I’m doing.”
Jose Guzman’s story is one that could inspire anyone that has been in his shoes. Once a highly touted amateur, that turned into a disappointing professional career, lead to him losing his way in boxing. He is now back in a very big way. He has been a trainer at Mendez Boxing gym for three years now but has already left his mark. With his level of dedication and persistence, there is not doubt that he will continue on his trainer path. Soon he will find his way back on the big stage where he truly belongs.
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