In to the Ring: Juan Del Real Hernandez, the Boxer

    He may be in Dallas, but the three steps into the ring are just as short as they always are. 

   Tonight, however, they look as high as a mountain. 

   He ducks under the ropes and entraps himself in the ring with his opponent. At the sound of a bell, they will both become threats to each other. The odds are in his favor, though, as Juan Del-Real Hernandez is even more of a threat. He shakes his hands loose although they are made into fists and taped up in gloves. He feels less scared now, feels more dangerous. He’s anxious for the fight to begin. 

  “I get nervous when I step into the ring,” said Juan, “but after I get ready, the feeling goes away. I get a boost of adrenaline.”

  Juan Del-Real Hernandez is not only a freshman at Guilford, but also an experienced fighter. With three years of boxing experience, Juan is on a competitive level in the Rockford Boxing Association. His most recent tournament, Battle in the Big D, in Dallas, Texas, coincidentally ended up being one of his most influential matches.

  “I ended up winning the entire tournament out there,” said Juan, “and I got interviewed by the local news when I got back to Rockford.”

   Juan plans to compete this summer in the Junior Olympics, which will be held in Texas. He also plans to compete in the Illinois Silver Gloves State Tournament, which will be held right here in Rockford at Flinn Middle School. 

   His cousin, also named Juan, inspired him to get into boxing as he was a boxer himself until he left the sport behind. Juan stayed in it, though, due to his dedication to his team and the support he gets from his coach. 

   Juan’s coach at Patriot Boxing Club, Jimmy Goodman, took him under his wing and began training him at the age of eleven after meeting him by random at a birthday party. Jimmy also trains Juan’s younger brother, who is now eight years old but was only five years old at the time they started training. Juan’s skill was good enough to be put to the test competitively, both locally and out of state. He is frequently entered in competitions as he is now ranked as the ninth best boxer in his national division.  

   “I have fifteen wins and eleven losses. Two wins have been by knockout, but I’ve never been knocked out,” said Juan.

  Juan is not boxing for the sake of going pro, but he works hard nonetheless. He has to endure rigorous exercise routines to keep his body more physically fit than his competition.

  “I usually just hit the punching bag to train, but I do a lot of agility training with my coach, too,” said Juan.

  Freshman Anthony Drake, Juan’s friend and neighbor, strongly supports him and likes to stay up to date about his boxing progress.

  “I ask him sometimes about how he’s been doing with it, and he tells me about how much time he spends practicing,” said Drake. “He’s proud of what he’s been doing all year and I’m proud of what he’s been doing. I’m supporting him a lot with this.”