Anxiety. Nervousness. Stress. That’s what Uvalde High School senior Paul Hernandez feels before stepping into the boxing ring, but, to him, “Everything changes as soon as you get that first punch. “
Hernandez got more than a first punch. He spent part of his last days of summer vacation winning the Texas State Boxing Championship in his 132-pound weight division.
Although boxing is not a typical childish sport, for Hernandez it is a family affair.
“I started when I was in seventh or eighth grade. My father and my grandfather were boxers. “
Initially, Hernandez and his twin brother Tony started boxing for self-defense, but soon wanted to start fighting competitively.
“My biggest inspiration should probably be my dad or my grandfather because they got me started in this sport. But I should say my older brother [David] is my biggest motivation. “
Hernandez said that if he could fight any boxer in the world, he would box Floyd Mayweather.
“A lot of people fought him and can’t beat him, and we would make millions with this fight.”
While Mayweather has officially retired and may not be in Hernandez’s future, he plans to box other professional boxers.
“By the time I turn 18, I plan to turn pro. Hope this turns into a career. However, her family attaches great importance to education.
“I’ve always been taught that you have to go to school, that you will always have university. So I’m probably going to do professional boxing and go to college at the same time. “
When Hernandez enters the boxing ring, he experiences a mixture of emotions.
“Nervous and confident at the same time. Everyone has butterflies. Otherwise, you don’t care, I guess. It’s really nerve-racking, but once the first punch hits it all goes a bit. “
To prepare for combat, Hernandez has two ways to enter the area. “I like to listen to music and my older brother, he’s a little crazy, he motivates me for the fights. “
Hernandez’s twin is also a competitive boxer. And they had to manage their weight not to end up face to face in the ring.
“My brother and I walk the same weight, but when it comes to tournaments, one of us has to lose weight or one of us has to gain weight in order not to fight.”
With each sport comes a specific workout routine to follow.
“Mondays and Thursdays are days of fighting. So that’s 20 minutes of shadow boxing to warm up and 10 minutes of regular stretching and then, I would say 10, almost 10 rounds of sparring. After that, three rounds of the bag, three rounds of doubles in bags, then three rounds of the speed bag, and like 20 minutes of skipping rope. “
While all of this exercise and competition is tough, Hernandez says he’s not thinking about stopping. He recently sported a noticeable black eye, but he doesn’t care.
“No, I never really thought about quitting. Dieting is just the hard part of boxing. Being consistent with every workout every day, you can’t miss a day. And for the diet, you certainly can’t slack off on healthy foods.
For Hernandez, when it comes to boxing, consistency is key.
It took a while for Hernandez to prepare to compete for the recent state title.
“Actually my first few fights were wins, but after that it slowed down a bit. I stopped fighting for a little while. We got back to it and now it’s one of my biggest wins. One of my most successful runs at the moment were the state championship.
Although boxing brings many challenges, the biggest challenge for Hernandez is the diet. “It’s a lot of mental toughness. Dieting is probably one of the hardest things in boxing. “
While boxing has its challenges for Hernandez, it also has many rewards.
“I have traveled to a lot of places just for boxing, seen a lot and met a lot of people through boxing who can help me later in life. ”
Hernandez has won the Texas State Championship title in several games.
“It was a four day tournament, so the first three days were fights you had to win to get to day four, which was the championship. It was a simple elimination, so if you lose you are eliminated.
Some might call it luck, but Hernandez demonstrated his skill in winning every fight for the first three days and won his title on the fourth day.
As an added bonus, the twins’ namesakes – the grandfathers of both parents – were on hand to witness his championship run.