By TEREASA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers
LINCOLN PARK – For Mike Wagner, getting his son in the boxing ring was a way to get his then-14-year-old off of video games. Now, Alejandro Wagner is the No. 1-ranked amateur welterweight in the country and sixth in the world in the 152-pound category.
Mike Wagner, knew the moment he put him in the ring at the Dinamita Boxing Club in Detroit, Alejandro was someone to be reckoned with.
“It wouldn’t have mattered how he did, as long as it wasn’t a video game,” Wagner said.
Wagner, a boxing fanatic who lost an eye when he was 5, began co-training his son. Yet, he notes that Pilo Garza is Alejandro’s main coach.
“I just ride shotgun,” Wagner said.
However, Wagner is now coaching 20 other young people at the gym since he came in with Alejandro. He said the gym was short-handed and he was available. He hadn’t coached anyone else except his children. But he enjoys coaching, since it is a sport he loves.
He has taught his son well in taking on opponents.
Alejandro, 152 pounds and stands 6 feet tall, said he isn’t swayed by taller opponents.
“I know we both have two hands,” he said. “I like everything about boxing. I love the hitting part. I hate the watching your weight part. It is a competitive sport.”
Alejandro said knowing his dad is in his corner makes it even better.
Wagner said he has loved boxing since he was a child and his favorite boxer still is Joe Louis.
He said one thing for him that stands out with boxing is that it is not a team sport.
“You have two people standing face-to-face,” he said.
Alejandro has been involved in several sports, including wrestling, track and football, but boxing is his favorite.
“It’s given him a deeper outlook,” said Wagner, the father of four sons and a daughter – all of whom are boxers.
“A lot of people don’t realize their dream. He is living it,” Wagner said of Alejandro. “I am so proud and so happy for him.”
Alejandro spends six days a week training, three hours on school days and five on Saturday, which includes a five-mile run.
“There is no being in shape like boxing shape,” Wagner said. “It is a serious workout. It is hard, fast-paced and intense.”
Alejandro’s next goal is to be either welterweight or middleweight champion of the world.
Despite his current success, Alejandro hasn’t changed. His dad said his son doesn’t brag. He is the same person he has always been.
Alejandro’s accomplished boxing skills have sent him to Nevada, Texas, West Virginia, North Carolina and Illinois. He will head to Ireland in May.
(Tereasa Nims can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)