Image: AIBA, Rio 2016 Olympics
by Missy Fitzwater
They say that “you can never go home.” Nico Hernandez knows that this is not true. He has found his way back home on numerous occasions. He has boxed in competitions across the nation, collecting an impressive array of hardware, including: a National Golden Gloves championship ring, eight Ringside World Championship belts, two Jr. Olympic Gold medals, a USA Boxing National Championship belt, a Continental Championship bronze medal, an Olympic Qualifier Silver Medal, and an Olympic Trial Championship.
Hernandez has also competed internationally, most notably; he earned a Bronze Medal in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at an amateur athlete’s most coveted competition, the Olympics. After each of these contests, he always returned home to Wichita, Ks.
Nico Hernandez as part of USA Boxing 2016
Recently, Hernandez took another journey back “home” to the 2017 National Silver Gloves Championships held in Independence, Mo. Hernandez, an eight time Silver Gloves champion himself, was drawn back to this tournament because it was the point of departure of his boxing journey. “This tournament is where it all began for me; this is where my Olympic dreams started.” Hernandez stated.
As Hernandez wandered through the venue, he was surrounded by excited young boxers who had found an idol in their midst. He graciously posed for every photo that was requested, and took a moment to speak with everyone who approached him. Hernandez takes his status as a role model very seriously and tries to impart his beliefs that if you believe in yourself, anything can happen. He wants young boxers to recognize their own worth and settle for nothing less.
What these fans may not have noticed, was that Hernandez was an ardent fan of all the young boxers he encountered. He was flooded with memories as he stopped to watch a boxer getting his hands wrapped. He noted the calm focused moment. Later, he witnessed another boxer gloving up, and he couldn’t help but notice the slight shaking of his hands as the anticipation and adrenaline surged through this boxer.
During a break from the tournament, Hernandez visited two local gyms, where he sparred with some of the fortunate boxers who attend these gyms. This is another way that Hernandez chooses to mentor up-and-coming boxers. At Turner Boxing Academy, Hernandez sparred with sixteen year old, Jorge Carlos. Carlos is the 2016 Jr. Olympic gold medalist who has just begun his promising journey to becoming an Olympian. When asked what working with Hernandez meant to him, he stated “Sparring with Nico was a great experience! It made me feel like maybe it’s possible that I too could be the next Olympian.”
Hernandez returned to the Silver Gloves Tournament, watching numerous bouts, and witnessing the emergence of champions. He was reminded of all of the work and perseverance that he endured at this stage of his boxing journey. At the end of the tournament, when asked what impression the Silver Gloves and working with the kids at the local gyms left him with, he stated, “I am impressed with all of these kids. They have inspired me, motivated me to get back in the ring”
And so, after this recent journey “home,” Nico Hernandez will return to Wichita, Ks., filled with inspiration from the next generation of Olympian’s, to continue his boxing journey with a pro debut in his hometown. Who says “you can’t go home!”