SF Valley Teen Competing in Tahiti
Amateur Star Rahim Gonzales will turn 16 this Sunday, April 8. While most teenage boys would probably be celebrating at their local Dave & Buster’s, this kid will be celebrating in style on the island of Tahiti where he will be competing in the Team Boxing TAM showcase between Team USA/Mexico and Team Tahiti.
I caught up with the athlete before he leaves on his exciting adventure tomorrow night. Rahim comes from a supportive family that loves boxing; when he was just a little kid I would see the boy and his parents and sister at Vegas fights, local boxing banquets and luncheons with the legends. He was wide-eyed about the sweet science back then and he is still as enthusiastic now as a multiple amateur champ. Five years ago, I watched him win his first belt at the prestigious Ringside tournament in Kansas City. He was only 10 years old, but he already had the star swagger down–even back then.
Fast forward years later and this soon-to-be 16 year old has perfected that swag.
Ambitious, a big dreamer and thinker, Rahim (who’s nickname is “King RA”) aims for the top in his journey through the amateur ranks–and hopefully onto the Olympics and later, the pro fight game.
Training at the Pacoima Boxing Club with Marcos Murillo, the teen has been fighting since he was eight. He’s since amassed a wide range of titles along the way, putting in two-a-day sessions at the gym. Rahim says he’s home-schooled so he can focus on boxing; he’s had 94 fights and about 30 tournament wins thus far.
“I won the 2011 Junior Olympic Nationals at 95 pounds, which made me the #1 kid in the country,” the USA Boxing phenom proudly states, when I asked him to name his career highlights. “I also won the Junior Golden Gloves three times, the California Golden Gloves three times, the Junior Olympics eight times, the Desert Showdown, Ringside in 2007 and 2009 and the Memphis Title Nationals and more.”
Gonzales has also fought in Montreal, but this upcoming trip to French Polynesia tops it all.
“I was supposed to go last year but I was only 90 pounds then,” the youngest member of Team LA says,” so this time I’ll be competing at 114. My mom will be going with me and we’re really excited about it! I can’t wait to meet the people and explore and experience their culture.” He normally competes at 106 but will move up in weight for the Tahiti matches.
His parents, Saalim and Nicole, and his grandparents, Miles and Cheryl Gonzales, have always been instrumental in guiding his career. Rahim expresses his appreciation for having their support. “My dad is my conditioning coach and my mentor. My mom is my #1 fan, even greater than my #1 fan,” he laughs. “At my fights, she’s the craziest and the loudest. If you hear screaming in the gym, that’s her!”
The little powerhouse patterns his ring persona after some colorful ring masters in the game: “My favorite fighters are Floyd Mayweather Jr., Prince Naseem Hamed, Ricardo “Finito” Lopez, Roy Jones Jr., and Sugar Ray Leonard. I like them because they are fast, flamboyant and entertain the crowd. That’s what I want to do!”
He is funny and witty and likes to emulate Floyd “Money” Mayweather with his talk. And he has big plans lined up too.
“So your plans are to try and make the Olympic team before going pro?” I ask the Sylmar boxer.
“Yes, I want to be a two-time Olympian in 2016 and 2020 and I also want to go into the Air Force too and become a Captain!” he explains. “On the way to the gym, we’d pass by Whiteman Airport and I’d see the Cessnas and I decide then I want to be a pilot someday!”
The boy has it all figured out.
“My dream is to be a commercial pilot–but I’m gonna be a pro boxer at the same time!” Rahim tells me. “It’s not a dream–I’m gonna do it. I also want to break history. I want my pro debut to be a title defense.”
“How are you going to do that?” I chuckle.
“I will do it, I will make history,” he answers confidently. “I know people may think my answers are ‘a little out there’ but I’m just here to entertain in the boxing game! And when I’m a pro, I want to give people their money’s worth when they buy tickets.”
Gonzales will continue to work hard to make his dreams come true. “Rahim is a great kid,” Coach Fidel Briseno assesses. “He trains out of our Pacoima gym and we’re happy he’ll be going with us to Tahiti.” I ask the teenage slugger what his schedule is after he returns from the Moorea and Papeete competition.
“I’ll be fighting in the Oxnard Adidas Nationals in May, the Desert Showdown in July, the Junior Golden Gloves in Mesquite,” Rahim lists for me, “Ringside in Kansas City and then next year I’ll be open in the 17-34 division. I’m ready and I can’t wait!”
The busy boxer also wants to give credit where credit is due. “Can I give a shout out?” he asks right before we sign off. “Besides my parents and coach I really want to thank my teacher!”
“You’re homeschooled, right?” I say.
“Yes, and I love it!” Rahim shared. “I love being homeschooled and I really want to give a shout out to my teacher, who I see two-three times a week. her name is Audrey Carter and she’s great!”
This student of the game is grateful for the opportunities that pugilism has brought to him–even if it leaves him little time for the typical love life of a teen.
“I don’t have a girlfriend right now since I want to focus on boxing,” says Gonzales. “BUT when I’m around 24 or 25, I will have a girlfriend–AND she’ll be a Victoria’s Secret model!”
This kid really dreams big.
And why not? Aiming for his place among his heroes, this 15-year-old says he will think positive every step of the way.
As they say: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.”
Rahim Gonzales aims for the top–one step at a time.
Photos by Dominic Serna Sr.