Remembering boxing legend Pat Ozuna
Ozuna won the 1969 Texas Gold Glove title.
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - More often than not, the name Pat Ozuna rings a bell here in Wichita Falls.
Ozuna passed away last week at the age of 71, but his days in the boxing ring are being remembered as if he was back in his 20s.
“He was one of a kind. I mean, he was smaller than everyone else, but he would still throw those punches, and he wouldn’t stop,” lifelong friend Tony Solorio said.
In 1969, the non-stop punches were too much for anyone in the Lone Star State to stop as Ozuna went on to capture the Texas Gold Glove Title as the state’s best amateur boxer. But in 1976, Ozuna stepped away from the ring to take on the most rewarding challenge of all: raising his newborn daughter, Melissa.
“He was a great guy and was always humble about his boxing career. He never really talked about himself, but I heard from friends about all the good stuff, and he would always say ‘yeah, I was alright,’” Melissa said.
From a young age, Melissa was surrounded by the sport.
Ozuna and his wife had divorced, so Melissa would spend time with her dad on weekends as he trained the next generation each Saturday morning while she was growing up.
“I’d watch him with those guys, and I could just see the passion and how he cared for them and the passion for boxing,” Melissa said. “One day, I remember getting into the car and saying, ‘Daddy, when I grow up, I want to box so you can train me.’”
Ultimately, Melissa never got to box or train under her father, but the lessons he did pass on to his daughter were never forgotten.
Five months before Ozuna died, he suffered a stroke that left him unable to speak, and it was Melissa who became his caretaker and his trainer during voice therapy.
“One of his biggest things was don’t give up. If it were something that seemed hard, he would say don’t give up, so I remember telling him, Dad, you got this, don’t give up. It’s okay; you’ll get your speech back, don’t give up,” Melissa said. “He would kind of look at me sometimes and roll his eyes, but then he probably thought, ‘hey, she’s using my words against me. Don’t give up.’”
Pat Ozuna never did speak again before passing on July 20th, but like the humble man he always had been, he didn’t need to.
Since his passing, the Wichita Falls community has flooded social media with stories about his legendary boxing career, but there are even more stories about being a legendary father. Pat Ozuna, the Gold Glove winner with a heart of gold.
“To see him through other people’s eyes is amazing,” Melissa said. “He impacted the community, and he impacted a lot of people. He had a heart of gold and an infectious smile.”
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