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Superstar in the making: Ridgewood boxer headed to Olympic trials

Photo by Anthony Giudice/QNS

After hard work, dedication and an outpouring of community support, Ridgewood‘s Mathew Gonzalez will be flying to Colorado this June to compete in the Olympic trials in boxing for Team USA.

Gonzalez’s love of boxing began at just 5 years old, when he would watch and learn the sport from his older brother. At age 8, Gonzalez stepped into a boxing ring for the very first time, and by the age of 10, he knew that boxing was what he wanted to do.

“At 11, I started competing,” Gonzalez said. “I started following in [my brother’s] footsteps. He was already doing it big, at a national level and I just followed his footsteps and it took me here.”

Gonzalez has had an impressive amateur career thus far, winning the Junior Golden Gloves Nationals in Las Vegas and the Ringside World Championships in Kansas City, among other titles and awards. But he had to step away from boxing to focus on graduating from Grover Cleveland High School.

“My favorite achievement is coming back to the sport that I belong [in], coming back to the sport that I love even though I have not been actively competing and still having the support from all my fans and family is just great,” he said.

During his hiatus from boxing, Gonzalez joined International Boxing & Fitness gym, located at 953C Cypress Ave. in Ridgewood, and has been training and volunteering there during his free time. He trains six to seven hours a day as well as training and helping the youth teams develop and hone their skills.

Since joining the gym, Gonzalez has trained and worked hard to become an elite fighter in his age and weight bracket. At only 20, he is “very talented and a force to be reckoned with,” according to Jenny Badillo, co-owner of International Boxing & Fitness gym.

“Everyone knows Mathew from his Junior Olympic credentials,” Badillo said. “When he came to our gym, I knew he needed the support of a comfortable gym to come to. We were more than willing to give it to him because we know he is very, very talented.”

The support Gonzalez received from those at the gym has led to a very close relationship between the boxer and the members of International Boxing & Fitness.

“The gym here is like a family,” Gonzalez said.

That family recently joined together to support Gonzalez and his boxing dreams. Through a GoFundMe page set up by Badillo, members of the gym and parents of the kids Gonzalez helps train have donated the funds needed to send Gonzalez to Colorado Springs to participate in the Olympic trails this June.

“It means a lot to me to display my skills on a national level, and [fighting] the best the USA has to offer is amazing,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a great feeling, being that I know I have support behind me and it’s just makes you want to work harder each and every day.”

If Gonzalez makes it past the opening round of trials in Colorado Springs in June, there will be a second round of trials in the fall which he hopes to be able to attend, and with the support of his local boxing gym and community, his dreams could become a reality.

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