Teen boxing champ thanks Detroit gym for giving him the hope he needed to start
A high school student has made a name for himself in the boxing ring around the country and world and has big dreams of going to the Olympics and going pro.
Boxing was not always part of the plan for 18-year-old Alejandro Wagner who started boxing at Dinamita Boxing Club in Southwest Detroit three years ago.
"I'm just a quiet, keep to myself type of person," said Alejandro.
He did not like fighting in or outside the ring.
"I hated it. I was always nervous because in school, I got in like three fights and I was nervous like 'man I really got to fight right now," he said.
His father, Mike Wagner, has always loved boxing, but is partially blind and couldn't box himself. Mike always wanted to get his children interested in the sport.
"One day I said to him (Alejandro), 'let's go down to the boxing gym,' because his brother was already coming and training here (Dinamita Boxing Club) and he was like 'no I don't want to go,' and I was like 'just come on man,' and he said 'no you're on your own," said Mike.
Mike came up with a bribe three years ago to get Alejandro into the gym.
"I was like 'Ahh what do you want?' and he's like 'There's a new game coming out tonight.' I said 'What do you mean, tonight?' and he said 'It's Call of Duty ghost,' so I went and stood in line for him to buy that game as a bribe to get him to come in here, and he came in and started training with these guys and I think he fell in love from there," Mike said.
Alejandro is now ranked No. 1 in the country and No. 6 in the world for his 152 welterweight division.
"I was so happy for him that a tear came out of my eye, and I'm calling my wife and telling her. It was pretty cool," said Mike about when he found out Alejandro was ranked number one.
Alejandro has become known for his left hook.
"My favorite is the body shot. I know most people don't work out their body so that's the best thing to throw," said Alejandro.
Mike and Alejandro said though it's only been three years, it's been a long road to get to that point. Alejandro said his very first fight was difficult and most kids start boxing at a much younger age.
"I was tearing up [during the fight] like why am I crying and my eyes were turing red. Right after that [fight], I was thinking I can't let this guy be better than me. If i'm going to be like this and start coming to boxing, I'm going to beat everybody that's in my way when I'm in the ring," Alejandro said.
Dinamita Boxing Club is a second home for Alejandro now.
"This place means a lot to me. I love this gym because my coach, he's one of the best and helps me through everything I need and my dad he's the best because he's one of my coaches," said Alejandro.
Mike coaches other kids who come to Dinamita Boxing Club as well while Alejandro's trainer is Pilo. Pilo opened the gym a few years ago.
"We opened the gym in order to get kids off of the street. I've always liked boxing, but in Mexico with the poverty, I was " Pilo said in Spanish.
It's been difficult at times to keep the gym running.
"I pay rent here. There are times I could not pay the rent and have money in my pocket. It costs a lot of money and people think that all of it is easy, but it's not," Pilo said.
He's built a strong relationship with Alejandro, and he has a lot of faith in him to become a world champion someday.
"Alejandro is one of the most outstanding. It is a part of my dream to have a world champion from here and possibly Alejandro. It is an emotion. It is a dream that possibly will come true," said Pilo in Spanish.
Alejandro also believes he will become number one in the world someday for his division.
"Words can't explain how I feel about it. It's just that great of a feeling because not knowing that, going from nothing to being number one, it's just unbelievable," he said.
Alejandro will be boxing this weekend in the Golden Gloves tournament.
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