As a kid, Xavier “X” Rodriguez just couldn’t sit still.
“He was very fussy when we would take him to the restaurants,” said his father, Adrian. “He was underneath the table, bumping the table.”
His mother, Lisa, said she knew how to put his energy to good use. She said she put him in every sport she could, from football to basketball to baseball. But something else caught his eye: boxing. Rodriguez said he grew up watching it on TV with his parents, two brothers and extended family.
“Everybody knows every boxer’s name, record, whatever,” he said. “We’re that much into boxing.”
Rodriguez said he began boxing at age 11, the first year his mother would let him.
“He repeatedly asked me, ‘Can I do boxing?’” Lisa said. “‘I want to do boxing.’ And I kept putting him off because I was like, ‘No you’re too little, no you’re still too little.’”
Rodriguez didn’t win his first fight, but that didn’t stop him, he said.
“Actually I was not disappointed,” he said. “I was like, it’s fun. I want to fight again.”
Then, in his first year, Rodriguez won the Ringside World Championship in his division, he said.
“I was crying holding that first belt,” he said.
Rodriguez, 18, has another chance to win a belt in this week’s National Golden Gloves in Lafayette, Louisiana.
He advanced through the preliminary rounds and fights in the quarterfinals Thursday night, said Mike Grimsley, a media spokesman for National Golden Gloves.
If Rodriguez makes it through the semi-finals Friday and the finals on Saturday, he will emerge as one of ten national champions in ten different weight classes, Grimsley said.
His parents say they couldn’t be more proud of how hard he’s worked to get here.
“To see that kind of dedication in your son of all people, it’s pride and it’s just everything that mom, a parent, parents, want to see in their kids,” Lisa said.
His coach, Tony Cabello, was also beaming with pride when Rodriguez came in to train last week.
“I talk to him like if he’s my kid you know because I want him to understand that I want him to win more than he probably wants it sometimes,” said Cabello, owner of Reyes Boxing.
For Rodriguez, boxing isn’t just about winning trophies. It’s a way to support the family who’s supported him, he said.
Rodriguez held up a dollar bill with the inscription, “I will cash $1 million check at or before age 24.” It’s a promise to himself and his family, he said.
“I told my dad that I was gonna change everybody’s lives,” Rodriguez said. “I was gonna change my dad’s life, he wasn’t gonna have to work no more. My mom wasn’t gonna have to work anymore….Because I was gonna be that successful in the sport of boxing.”
Rodriguez plans to leave the amateur boxing world and turn professional, he said.
The toddler who couldn’t sit still is now an 18-year-old boxer with professional ambitions.
“It’s pretty crazy when an 11-year-old tells you what he wants to do for the rest of his life,” his mom said.