Two junior high students, David “Chevy” Rodriguez, 12, and his sister, Olivia Rodriguez, 13, are setting the young boxing world on fire after placing number one in the United States at the 2020 Silver Gloves National Championships.
Both of the Rodriguez children receive their training from their father, Edmundo Rodriguez, who works as the campus supervisor at Jacobsen Middle School, where Chevy is in the sixth grade. A former JMS student herself, Olivia has recently opted for homeschooling and is in the seventh grade.
"I just started with my oldest son (Danny), teaching him self defense. Then, I continued with Olivia and then my son, Chevy, when he was old enough," Edmundo said of how he became his children's boxing coach.
After suggesting the family attend a top fight as spectators, Edmundo said they collectively became convinced that was what they wanted to do in life.
"I saw a lot of parents that were top coaches, and that's exactly what we turned out to be," Edmundo said. "I'm the coach, and my wife (Yamilett) cheers us on, books our rooms and our fights."
According to their father, boxing is not only a sport, it's a lifestyle for his children — they have to eat healthy, watch their weight and constantly train.
"Boxing has changed our life. They don't go out to the skate park just to hang out. When their friends come over, they run laps with them, and then they can hang out. I think this is what has kept my kids out of trouble and away from all of the negative stuff that is out there," said their father.
The children train at their family home using four punching bags, a treadmill and "a lot of heart."
To date, Olivia has fought 26 fights and won six belts, and Chevy has fought 60 fights and has won 13. Both started competing at age 8.
In 2018, girls were first invited to compete in the Silver Gloves tournament, which was Olivia's first bout. The following month, both Olivia and Chevy competed and won in the state championships in Los Angeles. From there, they went on to compete in the qualifier in Compton.
Asked if boxing comes naturally to her, Olivia said, "There are ups and downs. Sometimes there are easy fights, and sometimes there are hard fights."
Weighing in at a lithe 85 pounds, Olivia said it is harder to find opponents in her weight and age class.
"If I get lucky, I get to fight twice during a tournament. If I'm super lucky, I get to fight three times," she said.
Chevy, on the other hand, weighs 75 pounds, and has many opponents during a tournament.
"If it is a seven-day tournament, then I fight all seven days," he said.
Asked about their secret weapon in the ring, Olivia said her right hand and Chevy said his south paw (left hand). Also, the children's dad said they train harder than most because they have less.
Both Rodriguez children laughed when asked if they walk away from fights looking like Rocky Balboa.
"We don't get beat up, but they do," said Olivia.
The reason for this is simple, said their father. "The harder they train, the easier the fight."
Asked who they idolize in the boxing world, Chevy said Canelo Alvarez and Olivia said Sulem Urbina.
To raise the necessary money to attend tournaments around the United States, the Rodriguez family holds yard sales and hosts taco and hotdog fundraisers. Their father said they are always looking for sponsors interested in helping his children continue to carve out their names in the world of boxing.
"We are proud to have two national champion student athletes at our school. Boxing at this level takes a great deal of dedication to physical fitness and discipline. We are so happy for our sibling Bulldogs to accomplish the highest honor they have been working towards," said Sharon Heitman, principal of Jacobsen Middle School.
Olivia and Chevy will next fight in March in Reno, Nev., at the eastern qualifier. The tournament will last seven days, and will be tough. They will be required to fight one time a day, and one loss, and you're out.
More information on the Rodriguez family can be found on DannyBoy Yami Rodriguez Facebook page.