Boxing's newest golden boy hails from Avenal

FRESNO, Calif.

Jose Ramirez, 18, is the number one ranked amateur in the country and he's got the attention of the sports' top names as well as the national media. But he has other priorities before going pro.

In the school of hard knocks, Jose Ramirez could write the book. The first chapter of his life started in Avenal, the son of farmworkers, hardworking, but poor.

Jose remembers, "It was me, my cousins, other cousins, three aunts, so like three families in a small apartment." But a boxing club opened down the street and that changed his life. Coach Armando Mancinas recalls Jose as a young boy, "His dad said Jose had a lot of energy that he wanted to spend in a positive way."

Jose's preparation for his boxing career started much like he starts every match, deliberate and determined. "He was really focused, everything i told he seemed to grasp a lot easier than the other kids," Mancinas said.

The wins came quickly, almost easily for Jose.

His first match: "I got this big trophy, it was about the size of me. Now it looks smaller, now that I look at it. I still have it." Then came the titles, including the 2010 USA Men's National Championship, two Junior Olympic titles, and Golden Gloves, and a meteoric rise. With 115 wins his amateur record has surpassed that of boxing greats like Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather.

He's currently the number one ranked 132-pound lightweight amateur boxer in the country. Coach Mancinas describes his fighting style, "Little combinations that work here and there that work real well and right now it's an 86 and double up right. And he works his jab real well too and one of his stronger points is going to the body." Opponents sometimes don't know what hit them. 19-year-old Israel Casteneda recently sparred with him at the Southeast Fresno Boxing Club: "He hits hard, and he's fast."

Coaches and scouts have come calling, telling him to go pro. But Jose's chasing another dream, the 2012 Olympics. He says, "Being the first fighter in my family and making the Olympic team, is going bring a lot of pride to my family, a lot of pride to my community."

So it's 14 hours a week in the gym, and he wants to finish college at Fresno State in between: "I work early shifts, I go to school Monday, Wednesday, Friday in the mornings. When I don't go to school, I go to work. When I don't go to work, I go to school."

So he's left the management of his career to Fresno promoter Rick Mirigian who says, "We're re-writing boxing history right now. He's the first amateur and boxer ever to have his own website , his own iphone and android apps (available on his website), Facebook ( ) and Twitter (@usaboxing2012) all rolled into one."

Mirigian says the goal is to put Jose in the best possible position when he turns pro, having already established a fan base and make him a household name. A name that even as an amateur, carries a lot of weight in the ring.

Jose will fight next month in Colorado. If he places in the top four, he makes it to the Olympic Trials in Alabama.

But first, you can see Jose Ramirez fight here in Fresno May 28th at the USA Boxing Central Regional Championships at 6pm at 4774 N. Blackstone. Call 381-2742 for more information.

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