A Boxer’s Tale

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsHis life is nothing short of a miracle. Even boxer Joel Diaz finds himself in awe of his own triumph over struggle. Born in Michoacán, Mexico, Joel Diaz moved to the U.S. at the age of 10 with his brothers Julio and Antonio. Shortly after the move, Diaz discovered his passion for boxing. “You know I always had this urge to fight,” said Diaz. “I was the first one to jump in, even if the fight didn’t concern me, there I was. So later on I decided to take up boxing on a professional level.” In 1989, Diaz started training for the Olympics, but didn’t see his dream realized because he never became a U.S. citizen.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsAt 18, Diaz turned professional and won the Outstanding Boxing Trophy for his division. After receiving many accolades, which included one from the Intercontinental Championship, Diaz suffered from depression and with the many hits throughout his career; Diaz began to lose sight in his right eye. “I thought my career was over,” said Diaz. “I started to box and work really hard at it because I wanted to provide my parents with everything they didn’t have and couldn’t give us when we were growing up. Boxing became my way to support my parents so when I started to lose my eye sight, I thought that was it.” After surgery, however, Diaz was able to retain his vision. “I look back on my life and I realize how lucky I am. To have parents who sacrificed, to have found career I have passion for, and to be able to train the next generation,” said Diaz. Nowadays, Diaz and his brothers run the Boxing Club at the Boys and Girls Club in California. Ask him what his favorite movie is and he responds, “Real Steel. I saw it and it had a great message about family and hard work,” said Diaz. Recently, Real Steel has been nominated for the 2012 Academy Award. “For anyone who sees the movie and becomes interested in the sport of boxing, I would say come prepared to be dedicated and to give it your all.”

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