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Richard Torrez Jr is a specimen. At 6’2”, 225 pounds, the southpaw from Tulare, CA, is knocking out everyone who gets in his way as he rises to the top of the professional heavyweight boxing division. But outside of the ring is an intelligent, family-and-friends-orientated human being who finds balance in the special moments he finds outside of intense competition.
M&F sat down with “The Gentleman Boxer,” who currently has an undefeated record of six wins all by way of knockout, to find out what drives him and why it’s important to turn negative experiences into rocket fuel for positive results.
While Torrez Jr should have been elated to take home the silver medal in boxing’s super-heavyweight division at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the truth is that he was devastated because he’d lost in the final bout, missing out on gold. As his family and friends looked on proudly, Torrez felt like a loser, and was extremely hard on himself in the weeks and months that followed. With time, however, the gentle giant came to realize that without this negative experience, he might not be dominating the world of professional boxing today. “I definitely think it’s a blessing in disguise,” reasons the maturing warrior, who is now 24 years of age. “I told my dad before, that if I would have got gold, I wouldn’t be boxing anymore. I would have gone to college, I would have done all the other kinda 10 things that I love to do and see how far that could have taken me. But getting that silver really did keep that hunger alive.”
“I think that one reason I like boxing so much, is not only because boxing helps me in my outside life, but my outside life helps me in boxing,” says Torrez. “I kind of like the correlation that boxing has with the rest of my life. I definitely think that being able to implement some of the things that I use in my outside life, in the ring, is very beneficial to my career.”
Keen on chemistry, Torrez found a passion for adrenaline at Mission Oak High School when he and a bunch of friends, that he is still close with now, decided to ask their teacher how to make their rocket fuel more efficient. Troubled by what he had heard, that teacher considered suspending the boys until he called their parents and eventually understood that it was all in the name well-meaning curiosity and enthusiasm. These days, Torrez still love to launch rockets in the safety of the countryside.
He’s a musician, and is also finding time between sparring sessions to learn how to fly. As if all that weren’t enough, there’s another brain sharpening pastime dialing in his strategic abilities; the game of chess. Torrez competed on the chess team in high school and loves to see two or three moves coming before his hapless opponents clock them, just like when he’s searching for the perfect knockout.
“It’s way more satisfying, when you see that punch, and then you finally throw it, knowing that you did intend to throw it,” he says, explaining that just as important is the ability to react quickly when things happen that were not foreseen. “Because, in my last fight (he knocked out Willie Jake Jr. in the first round) I threw the punch because it was a reaction. I saw it coming and just threw that punch on reaction and it landed. And that’s kind of one of those moves in chess where it’s like, you make a move, but then you see (a better one). When you have that checkmate in sight, your gonna take that checkmate.”
Torrez is a third-generation boxer. His great grandfather, Juan Torrez was a southwest Golden Gloves champion and his father and coach, Richard Torrez Sr. was a quarterfinalist in trials for Team USA at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. The younger Torrez. trains in the family gym, known as Tulare Boxing Club, often sharing space with younger members from his local community. It’s no wonder then, that he’s become an inspiration to so many people. “It’s a really cool atmosphere, and I love being there,” says Torrez.
The boxer explains that he begins each day with a run. “I run about 3 to 5 miles, depending on what my dad wants from me,” he shares. “From there I eat breakfast, and then a morning snack, and then I go to the weight room. Then I come back home and eat lunch and relax until dinner. Then, after dinner, I’ll go to my boxing session, then I come back home for a recovery snack… Rinse and repeat,” When it comes to lifting, Torrez is given a routine that will build endurance in addition to strength, so he lifts moderate weights during movements such as the back squat or push press, while performing a high volume of repetitions to increase his stamina.
My mom actually got into the dietician thing because I got into boxing,” adds Torrez. His mom; Kim preps all of her sons meals so that he has the fuel that he needs to succeed. She works alongside nutritionists at the Olympic Training Center to figure out the calories and macros that the elite athlete requires to perform at the highest level. “She did it because she wanted to help me out, and I’m really appreciative of that,” he says. “I think I eat, right now, around 4,800 calories per day. It’s a lot of food, and so I’m really thankful that I have someone like my mom in my corner.”
Becoming a celebrated hero doesn’t happen overnight. Torrez sacrificed much of his youth, missing out on field trips, proms, and a social life with his friends in order to give his all to boxing. Fortunately, that work was worth the effort, and with an undefeated pro boxing record, Torrez is becoming a globally famous name in the sport but locally, and perhaps most important to him, is the honor that was bestowed by Mission Oaks High
School, as their Gymnasium now bears his name. “It’s still kind of a surreal feeling,” shares Torrez. “Knowing that I can go to my old high school and see that it is the Richard Torrez gymnasium. Like, what!?”
Not everyone one in the limelight appreciates having the responsibility of being a hero thrust upon them, but the “Gentleman Boxer” takes it all in his stride. “I don’t just work to make sure that I can do something, I work because everyone else is supporting and believing in me,” he explains. “I want to make sure that everyone else’s support and belief is not in vain. I’m working his hard because of them too.”
With matchmakers now working to find Torrez next opponent, “The Gentleman Boxer” will continue to do everything that he can to grow as a human being, and to become one of the greatest boxers to ever step inside the ring. “There’s a quote by Gandhi”, he shares. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”