With graduation right around the corner, accepting his diploma isn’t the only thing on Josue Lopez’s mind.
Instead, Lopez is focused on defending his crown as the non-collegiate-circuit New England Golden Gloves champion.
Lopez, who also goes by Josh, is undefeated in the ring the past two years, including back-to-back national championships on the collegiate boxing circuit.
But Lopez doesn’t let his success in the ring intervene with his success in the classroom.
As a political science and legal studies double major, Lopez has had to prioritize his life in order to maintain the same level of success in the classroom as he does in the ring..
“It’s unusual what I’m doing,” Josh said., “It’s a lot of time commitment and it takes a lot of sacrifices that most kids just aren’t willing to make.”
Lopez was a member of the up and coming Massachusetts boxing club, which did not feature any fighters competing in bouts against other schools, while maintaining a 3.9 grade point average,
After training over the summer following his freshman year with coach Rocky Snow at the Westover Air Force Base, Lopez became the key cog to a newly-competitive UMass team. But waiting for the inexperienced Minutemen were powerhouses such as Army, Navy Air Force, Penn State and California-Davis.
Lopez proved to be the team’s shining light, as he was the only boxer chosen to represent UMass in the national tournament his sophomore year.
After a third-place finish, one that Lopez disappointingly described as “not as good as first,” it was back to training and the daily grind that would eventually lead to his coming out party as the most feared fighter in the 132-pound weight class.
“I had something to prove every time I went out there,” Lopez said. “I know I have a burden to carry but that’s what makes you great. You put a challenge in front of them and they rise to the occasion, that’s what it’s about.”
Lopez’s relationship with Snow has been crucial to his success as a fighter. Under his coach’s guiding influence, Lopez has prepared both mentally and physically for his throughout his ongoing streak.
“There’s a lot of physical and mental training that goes into it and you definitely need a good coach to be successful,” Lopez said. However, a lot of it is up to the individual. It’s up to me to go out there and do what he tells me. My coach is only going to be around me for an hour to an hour and a half tops, the rest of my training and diet is up to me.”
The hard work under the supervision of Snow paid off, as his junior and senior year produced a victory for Lopez every time he entered in the ring. He hasn’t lost in two years and has faced some the best college boxers in the country.
His reign includes earning the title of a three-time East Division champion and being the only Minuteman boxer to compete in higher-level tournaments.
Despite his success, Lopez doesn’t show off his championship belts. Instead, he chooses to keep them at the training facility because he doesn’t believe that’s what his success is all about.
“I know what it feels like to be a champion and that’s good enough for me,” Lopez said. “I know that my work and dedication has paid off so I don’t need the belts to remind me. I’ll never forget.”
The main thing he is concerned about is inspiring other people.
“I’m no more special than anyone, but if you want to be the best at anything, you have to stay dedicated and that’s what I’ve done with myself,” Lopez said.
In fact, Lopez is so dedicated to his upcoming Golden Gloves national competition that he won’t be walking at graduation since he’ll be training for his latest competition in Salt Lake City.
Lopez said that most students aren’t willing to sacrifice four or five hours a day for training and give up a large chunk of their social lives or constantly watch over their diets. But he considers it a small price to pay for the success he feels after accomplishing his goals.
Although Lopez’s graduation will leave big shoes to fill for the program, he hopes his success and work ethic will trickle down to other UMass boxing club members who want the same satisfaction he felt when he was a back-to-back champion.
His physical presence will be gone, but the legacy he leaves will be felt for years to come, as people remember the fighter who didn’t want to lose, and for two years, became the best boxer in the country.
Source: Frank Corona, DailyCollegian