"I would come in training real hard, training hard by myself," said Ochoa. "And then one day my coach invited me to spar with a kid from another gym and I said yeah."
Fast forward to 2014 and the Fresno PAL program has at least 25 regular boxers, and the 16-year-old Ochoa is on the verge of stardom. Just last month he won a 132-pound USA Boxing Youth National Championship.
"It was a good feeling," said Ochoa with a smile. "I was proud of myself. It was hard work. I was really proud of myself. I wanted to cry, it was so emotional. My family was proud of me."
Ochoa currently holds eight national boxing titles and is the number one ranked American fighter in his weight class. His blend of quickness and power makes him tough to beat.
"[It's} a combination of both [power and speed]," said his coach, Omar Sanchez. "He's got power and he's pretty fast and you can't touch him. It's real hard to touch him."
Ochoa's win in Reno earned him a spot on the USA National team, and he leaves tonight for a tournament in Russia. Trips to Ecuador and Bulgaria will follow, leading up to the World Championships in China.
"Little tournaments help me get ready for the bigger tournament in April," said Ochoa. "So I'm fighting different people I've never fought like from Ukraine, but that's going to help me when I get to China."
"This is something not just for him," explained Sanchez. "It's going to make proud his family, his brothers, his mom, you know?"
Sanchez coaches Ochoa as well as his son, Evan, a 2013 USA Boxing National Team member. Coach Sanchez is proud of the success of his Fresno PAL boxers.
"The Fresno PAL is coming out not just with champions at the local level," said Sanchez. "We're having champions at the national level and going international."
Sanchez joins the rest of the Central Valley in cheering on Ochoa to gold with Team USA this year.