Born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario Canada, Rodolfo Velasquez is a proud Canadian boxer with Salvadorian roots. Both his parents were born in El Salvador and they migrated to Canada. Rodolfo attended Bishop Ryan High School and later went to Mohawk College, where he recently graduated from in 2013 after studying police foundations. He has 1 younger brother and 1 older half brother.
At the age of 7 Rodolfo took up karate because he was a rebellious kid and his parents wanted him to learn how to defend himself. When he was 10 he earned his black belt. Just before turning 11 he walked into Mcgrory’s Boxing club, where he continues to train today under coach Vinnie Ryan.
Rodolfo is a 2x Canadian National Champion, 5x Provincial Champion, and Ringside World Bronze Medalist (2010). In 2011 he took home the bronze medal at the Canada Winter Games Bronze, was 2x Ontario Games gold medalist, and he was also 2009 under 16 Ringside North American Champion, and 2x Cadet Ontario Champion representing team Canada in the USA, Scotland, Ireland, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. He was also awarded the 2009 Ontario Male boxer of the year Award.
Here at Latin é we were able to catch up with this amazing Canadian Boxer, and learn more about his aspiration to one day be a world-class boxer.
é: What was it that drew you into the McGrory’s Boxing Club? Did you always have an interest in boxing? Or, did you want to try something new from karate?
RV: My family tells me that since I was 4 years old I’ve had a thing for boxing. My dad would always be watching boxing mainly whenever Julio Cesar Chavez and Mike Tyson would fight; so I’d be with him watching. There’s even a video of me when I was 4 hitting this little punching bag, so really it was my dad who introduced me to the sport, and I started liking it. What got me into McGrory’s was one day I was eating at the buffet with my parents, and my dad knew one of the workers who used to box at McGrorys. His name was Alberto and I’m not sure how boxing was brought up, but once it was he told my dad about the gym and we went to check it out. Towards the end of my 5th grade year I went in the gym for the first time, and I still go there to this day.
é: Congratulations on all your achievements with boxing! What is your ultimate goal with the sport? When will you say “I’ve reached my goal”? Do you want boxing to be your career?
RV: Thank you very much! My ultimate goal is to one-day represent Canada at the Olympics. Until then I can’t say I’ve reached my goal because making the Olympics is something I’ve always wanted since way back when I started winning my first couple fights, and also it would be an honor to represent Canada at such a high level of boxing. But I’ll be honest, even if I don’t make it I still will feel proud of myself since I’ve achieved all the other goals I’ve wanted to do in boxing. As long as I’ve made the effort and put all my effort into trying to qualify, I can say that I tried. Not many people get the opportunity to even go to the qualifying rounds, never mind the Olympics. I wish I could box forever, but in reality I know one day I’ll have to move on with life. So as an amateur boxer I’ve still got a few good years left, but as for boxing professionally, I don’t think I would do it unless I’ve boxed as an Olympian first, then I will consider it.
é: Has your Latino background influenced you as a boxer or as an individual? If so, in what way(s)?
RV: It has for sure. I look at Latino boxers, such as Erik Morales, Felix Trinidad, Julio Cesar Chavez, Miguel Cotto and so on, and the only words I can think of are legendary warriors. The way I box is I pick bits of each Hispanic boxer and turn it into my own style. I got my aggression from watching Mike Tyson, especially in desperate times if I’m down on points. I feel that I, like the boxers I’ve mentioned, have a will to keep going, the heart to get up when they can’t, refusing to quit even when odds are against them. The catch about having the will that they have is that you cannot develop it, it is either you have heart or it isn’t, and I feel based on some situations I’ve been in the ring I have that heart so no doubt these Latino boxers have influenced me to be similar to them. Even as an individual it has influenced me, before I used to never have confidence in myself, but after boxing for so long and achieving what some haven’t has brought it up and changed me into a better person, a determined person.
é: What was one of your proudest moments/highlights in boxing?
RV: By far when I won the Canadian championships in 2012. When I won it was a huge upset because my weight class was full of world-class level boxers and then there was me, an 18 year old in his first year at the senior division going up against more experienced boxers. My first match went against a guy who I used to train with when we were younger, and he would beat everyone; in sparring I was no competition so to beat him was surprising. And then moving on to the finals I was facing against a guy 10 years older than me, who defeated the guy who beat me months prior to nationals and then defeated the defending champion. So going into the fight, most people didn’t think I would stand a chance. I was a major underdog, and it was no surprise I was losing the fight. But then came the last round. My coach gave me a speech and I felt reawakened, and I just went out and put my soul in the ring. That’s when I started hearing the crowd more and more starting to cheer for me, and that boosted my energy even more I wanted to win so badly; I wouldn’t quit, and in the end I won by the score of 10-9. For months everyone was talking about it and I felt great. I felt that all that hard work, and all those issues of making weight and feeling exhausted paid off because now I know I can compete at a world-class level.
é: What advice do you have for our youth if they want to pursue boxing professionally?
RV: My advice would be first get an education then worry about turning pro because you can’t box forever – your body isn’t the same after your 20s, and with education you can get a stable job that would be enough to support yourself and your family if you decide to start one. It’s good for the years to come until you’re eligible for retirement. If you really want to consider turning professional then you have to first have a really good amateur background, like having competed and done well in world tournaments. That way you get better exposure. Also make sure you know who you are signing with.
é: Any last words you want to share with your fans?
RV: I’d just like to say thank you for supporting me over the years. It really means a lot. Without it I could never have reached the level I’m at right now. Special shout out goes to my family: Mom, Dad, my brothers, my coach Vinnie, Val Ryan, my friends who I train with, and those that come out to my fights.
Stay humble always, and never forget where you come from. And thank you Latin-e for having me here! If anyone would like, follow me on twitter/Instagram @latinoheat64