“He was a good guy and a good boxer,” he said. “He could have been something but, but other things just took over him. He got really sick and knowing he couldn’t box anymore, he just started to drink himself to death.”
It was “other things” that nearly derailed Larry Gomez as well. He feels fortunate that he realized it before it was too late.
“I felt like I was going down his path, not drinking-wise, but I was going down the same path of not doing what I loved,” he said. “That’s what made me come back. Now I want to do this for him, in his memory.”
He is grateful for his uncle’s unconditional love and support, but more so for the way he’s pushed him the last few months. He said his success has even surprised him.
“I knew I was good, but I didn’t think I’d be coming back stopping these good fighters and doing as good as I’ve done,” he said.
To win a national title, he said he needs to keep doing what he’s done the last two tournaments.
“Aggression and being focused and knowing what I need to do,” he said of what will help him become the first Utah fighter to win a national Golden Gloves title since Sampson Puha won one nearly two decades ago. “I feel I could win it, and my style is good enough to win it. I hope I can do it. I am going to do it for Utah and for my family and for my dad.”
His uncle sits a few feet from him, and as Larry talks about his father, the coach reminds him of the sentiment he always offered his boys when they were small.
“He’d tell his kids to be pretty in the ring, box pretty,” coach Gomez said smiling. “Always be a pretty fighter.”
Larry Gomez smiles at the thought, and then says he feels his father with him on this journey.
“I just have his spirit with me,” he said. “I think he would be proud. I pray to him everyday, and I know he’s going to make me my best on those nights.”
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