A Rider student-athlete’s boxing journey

A Rider student-athlete is looking to follow in his father’s footsteps in boxing.
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 7:22 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - At 17 years old, Emmanuel Carrillo Jr. has achieved things that most people can only dream about, but even with all the belts and championships, he is still hungry for more.

Emmanuel was born into the world of boxing, following in his father’s footsteps.

“My dad was a boxer, he was a three-time Gold Glove Champion,” Carrillo Jr. said. “He was the one who got me started in boxing when I was little. I have pictures when I was a baby in diapers with gloves on. I actually started officially training boxing when I was 6 years old in Amarillo, Texas.”

Before the success and recognition, he was faced with adversity early on.

“When I first started, I wasn’t the best boxer at all,” Carrillo Jr. said. “Actually my first eight fights, I lost all of them. I was 0-8. Most kids really my age or starting out in their career, they lose like two fights in a row and quit boxing. I stuck with it and started winning and winning and winning.”

He became the Title National Champion in 2016 and 2017 along with the Ringside World Champion in the same year. He also became the Junior Olympic Champion in 2018 and 2021. Although the start of his career was rough, his coach saw his potential from the beginning.

READ: Rider student-athlete balances boxing career with academic success

“When he first came, we had a little trouble with him winning fights,” John Zapata, aka Mike, boxing head coach said. “He kind of was on a losing streak but one thing about Emmanuel is that he always had determination. He wasn’t one of these kids that I had to go chase and say ‘hey, go hit the bag.’ His determination to actually be the best was there, it has been there and it has continued to be there even now.”

Even through the lows of his career, he said those moments helped shape him into one of the top-ranked boxers in the nation.

“Getting my hand raised at the seven national tournaments I have won or being able to share the ring with a two-time gold medalist world champion, not every other boxer gets to be able to say they have done that stuff,” Carrillo Jr. said. “You just have to keep on going, you can’t let it get in the way of things, can’t let it slow you down. You either have to keep on doing what you’re doing or work harder.”

Carrillo Jr. now has over 150 fights with fewer than 30 losses and his coach said he is one of the best boxers he has ever coached.

“In my whole years of teaching boxing since 2003, he is probably one of my top five best, maybe even the top three,” Zapata said.

His coach said because of the great things he does inside the ring, as well as inside the classroom, he is one of the leaders at the gym and the bond they have built is unbreakable.

“He is like family, I tell him a love him all the time and I think he feels the same way,” Zapata said. “There is nothing I wouldn’t do for him and I know there is nothing he wouldn’t do for me.”

Carrillo Jr. said he is blessed to receive the help and support to continue to be one of the top boxers in the nation.

“That is what has got me to where I am today,” Carrillo Jr. said. “I can’t say I have done this by myself because I have a whole list going down with everyone that has helped me get here. I got my team, my family, everything. I am thankful for each and every one of them because I wouldn’t be here without them.”

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