CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — At 21 years old, Jose Mena decided to pursue his childhood dream.
“It was just kind of out of nowhere,” said Mena. “I always wanted to box and I just decided to go for it.”
Six years later, Mena punched his ticked to the Golden Gloves National Tournament.
“I always felt like I was okay, but just recently at the Golden Gloves. Right there, winning that to me was a pretty good accomplishment,” said Mena.
Getting to nationals took a win at the state competition in February and a win at regionals in March.
“Before the Golden Gloves, I told him, ‘Now I see you’re more serious about it and with your skills, you’re going to go far. You can go far if you keep doing it this way.’ He’s now pushing himself more to get in better shape,” said Salvador Regalado, Mena’s coach.
“I started working harder, really started getting a lot more serious, making sure I don’t skip a day, watching what I eat, things like that,” said Mena.
Mena said part of that intense work ethic comes from starting at a later age.
“I always thought these young guys that start young, they fall off the map,” said Mena. “They get off track, and I thought, I was 21. I was all, ‘Okay, it’s going to take a few years, but if I stick with it, I could see something out of it.'”
Despite the high demands, his confidence never wavered. It’s a confidence that can partly be attributed to Mena’s younger brothers.
“I’m the oldest brother of four,” said Mena. “There’s four of us so I was always the tough guy. Beating up on my little brothers, I guess that might have helped me out.”
“He’s just a natural athlete,” said Fernando Mena. “He’s good at everything. He plays everything. He does everything so he’s just a natural.”
Mena’s upcoming trip to the Golden Gloves National Tournament was anything but natural. It took hard work, confidence and the toughness of an older brother.