There is an almost poetic dichotomy in what 22-year-old Ramon “Ray” Negron Jr. has chosen as his life’s pursuits. He is a two-time Golden Gloves boxing champion who hopes to compete in the Olympics and then turn professional. Conversely, he is a licensed EMT, personal trainer, model and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy with an associate’s in sports medicine.
Essentially, Negron is in both the hurt business and the healing business. Although he is doing all these things concurrently, his main focus is on his promising boxing career.
“My plan A is boxing, because that’s my passion and I really want to pursue it, while physical therapy is my plan B,” he says. “I know a lot of people might say that’s not smart, ‘books before hooks’ as they say, but I’ve always wanted to follow my passions so I won’t look back and have any regrets.”
A high school athlete in football and baseball, Negron started to pick up boxing after graduation. He fights from an orthodox stance, employing a well-rounded boxer-puncher style that emphasizes mobility, power, counterpunching and technique. Currently fighting as a light heavyweight at 178 pounds, he intends on dropping down a weight class or two once he goes pro.
The individual nature of boxing and the fact that his father, Ray Sr., was a two-time Golden Gloves champion, were deciding factors in his decision to pursue the “Sweet Science.”
“What I really love about this sport is how much it disciplines you, that it’s a thinking man’s game, almost like playing chess,” he says. “As I saw myself progressing and getting in good condition, I wanted to start fighting. I asked my dad to train me and he supported me 100 percent.”
Negron usually trains at Tropical Park Boxing and Fitness, the same gym where Ray Sr. honed his glove game almost two decades ago. To keep his skills sharp, Negron maintains a minimum twice-a-day training regimen. He and his father also travel to several other local gyms to spar with fellow boxers such as former IBF and The Ring light heavyweight world champion “Gentleman” Glen Johnson and former WBA Fedecaribe light welterweight titleholder Angelo Santana. He admits that holding his own in the squared circle with such notables has motivated him greatly.
“It gives you a confidence boost when you’re hanging in there with those guys,” he says. “At first, you don’t know how to work with them, how hard you should hit them, but once he hits you hard, it’s cool.”
As a result of recently competing in Washington, Ray Jr. is poised to be the sixth-ranked amateur in the country in his weight class. On June 18, he plans on traveling to California to compete in the 2013 Adidas national boxing tournament.
Amateur boxing is not as lucrative or vital in Miami as it is in New York, California and Texas, which is why Ray and his father often must travel to compete, despite monetary obstacles.
“It’s very hard to get sponsorship, but we try to do it by getting different individuals to give what they can, and we normally come out the other end with enough to pay for plane tickets, room and board,” says Ray Sr. “My main concern for Ray Jr. is his education and I’d love to see him working with my wife at the hospital and eventually have his own business. But, as a fighter, he has the ability to be world champion, no doubt about it.”
For more information, contact Ray Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Ray_Negron_.