Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 18
By REBECCA PATTERSON
Sixteen-year-old Carlos Banderas has his eye set on the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The Santa Maria native is currently ranked first in the nation for amateur boxing in his weight division.
He won his first tournament at the Junior Olympics in Los Angeles at the age of 8, and he’s won many other competitions since then. Above the Santa Maria Elite boxing ring where he practices, his awards are among a display of belts and trophies from different tournaments and competitions.
“When I was 7 years old, I would walk around my block with gloves on asking kids if they wanted to box,” Carlos said while sitting in the boxing ring.
He and his older brother, Jose, were the first in their family to begin boxing. Their father, Zenon, saw this passion in his boys and was inspired to help cultivate their interest.
“We use to practice at the Minami Center, but we needed to practice more than what was allowed so my dad opened his own gym,” Carlos said.
Zenon Banderas admitted that it is expensive to maintain a gym and travel around the globe to tournaments, but he continues to do it because it keeps his children occupied and provides a safe place for other athletes to come. Carlos feels he’s a product of his supportive family who continues to inspire him to work hard to achieve his dreams.
“My Uncle David reminds me that hard work always beats talent,” Carlos said. “I have a tight conditioning schedule. I want to outwork the competition because they are trying to outwork me.”
Carlos practices seven days a week and begins conditioning at 6 in the morning. In the afternoon, he practices shadow boxing, bags, mitts, and sparring. Although still young, he’s aware of younger kids who may look up to him.
“For the kids who like me, I have to be a role model,” he said. “I can’t be good in the ring, and then act like a clown outside of the ring. That isn’t right.”
He believes that preparation, prayer, and focus are instrumental in his current and future success. To qualify for the Olympic trials, Carlos plans to win tournaments in Kansas City and Alabama. He acknowledges that the competition is fierce and the journey will be difficult, but he believes anything is possible through hard work and faith.
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