American lightweight Carlos Balderas of Santa Maria, Calif. has dreamt of competing in the Olympic Games since he tied on his first pair of gloves at age seven. Next summer, he will fulfill that dream as the lightweight representative on the U.S. Olympic Boxing Team. Balderas is the first boxer to claim his spot on the 2016 squad, qualifying his berth through his finish in season six of the World Series of Boxing.
“Making the Olympic Team is a dream come true for me and my family. I’ve always believed that when it comes to your dreams, every risk is worth it,” Balderas said. “My uncle, my dad and I have spent so many years working toward this goal and I can’t wait to represent the United States next summer in Rio de Janeiro. I’m going to make my family and my country proud.”
Balderas, a former Junior and Youth Open champion, won his spot on the United States’ World Series of Boxing team through a top finish at the WSB and World Championships Team Trial in December. He not only won gold in his first elite division event, defeating much older and experienced boxers on his way to the title, but was also named Outstanding Boxer of the event. A product of a pugilistic family, Balderas is trained by his father Xenon and his uncle David and his older brother Jose also competes in the sport.
He is the first American boxer to qualify for the Olympic Games through the World Series of Boxing and also represented the United States at the Pan American Games in July. Balderas received the Olympic allocation from AIBA (International Boxing Association) after two of the athletes ahead of him in the final WSB season standings qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games via top finishes at the 2015 Elite Men’s World Championships in October.
The 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials for Men’s Boxing will take place December 7-12 in Reno, Nev., to determine the athletes who will represent the United States in the other nine male weight divisions at the international Olympic qualifying tournaments. Flyweight Virginia Fuchs (Kemah, Texas), lightweight Mikaela Mayer (Los Angeles, Calif.) and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) won the Olympic Trials for Women’s Boxing in late October.
The announcement of Balderas’ spot was made on Monday at the press conference for the Olympic Trials for Men’s Boxing in Reno. Eleven family member made the eight-hour drive with him to share in the special day more than a decade in the making. Balderas was thankful for the chance to share the moment with people that helped get him there, including his uncle, father, brother and grandfather, David Sr., who first took him to the boxing gym at age seven.
The 2016 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team is subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee.
Additional Balderas Quotes
“This is a wonderful feeling knowing that we have accomplished such great things after so many years of hard work. After so many years of sacrifice and struggle, we have finally gotten in to this position after working for something since I was eight-years-old.”
“The funny thing is that the reason that they first took me to the boxing gym was for punishment. I was getting in to the fights and getting in to trouble and so they took me to the boxing gym so another kid could whoop on me and straighten me out. The other kid actually had some experience and it was my first time in a boxing gym but it actually went the other way around. They asked if I had boxed before and I told them that I hadn’t and we realized that I just a natural born fighter.”
“We’ve been climbing up the ranks and it’s a wonderful feeling because I remember when I told my dad (that I was going to the Olympics) and my dad got emotional. My dad teared up. As a kid, you are set to so many standards and you’re told that you’re not good enough for this. You’re only capable of a certain amount of things and I’ve proved to a lot of people that with God, anything is possible.”