By Amanda Moses
Honor, respect and discipline are just a few characteristics that make a boxer—attributes that Ryan Lopez embodies. He is in every sense of the word—a fighter. As a child he had very little respect for adults, the law and himself. Lopez was often the center of trouble, but all of that changed when he was able to channel his aggression into fighting as a sport. Now the Brooklyn Sports Club’s (BSC) staff member is the proud owner of a Born and Bred Brooklyn Championship belt.
At 21 years old, Lopez has the mental fortitude and steadfast motivation to train continuously, to always improve his craft because that is the key to survival in the ring. Before work, he goes out running for five, six and sometimes even ten miles. On his lunch break he is hitting the punching bag, practicing his calisthenics and lifting weights. “I enjoy being an amateur fighter, and I want to be the best one and win as many fights as possible,” Lopez said.
Before boxing, Lopez spent several years learning the fine art of mixed martial arts, such as Brazilian jiu-jitsu (focused on grappling and submissions), Muay Thai kickboxing and high school wrestling. However, he reached a plateau: A point when he felt like he was not progressing, at least not in a productive manner. Fighting is not just a silly hobby for Lopez—it’s a way of life. He wanted to join a gym that appreciated his serious attitude. After confessing his frustrations to a friend, they recommended he speak to his neighbor Starrett City Boxing Club (SCBC) boxer and middle weight champion, Ralfie Vazquez. It was through this recommendation that Lopez found his place of solace.
“Ralfie suggested I call SCBC Coach Chance. So I did and told Coach Chance that I wanted to be a part of a gym that would let me train like a fighter. I said that I wanted to be a part of gym that does not treat boxing like a game. Sure enough my first day at the SCBC we started training,” Lopez said. Every time he would visit the boxing club Lopez was put to the test. He learned the rules of boxing and sparred with fellow trainees Moses Okoro and Jonathan Okoro. “I love boxing and I have had great training partners to help me get even better. The Okoro brothers have opened my eyes to a whole new level of boxing,” he said.
Lopez started to train with the (SCBC) in June 2015. He was amazed by the sheer dedication and professional manner the SCBC exhibited. “The SCBC treats everyone like family. It is such a welcoming environment. Coach Chance believes in me, and had instilled so many values in me that no other man, aside from my father, has done. My father lives in Florida, so I like to consider Coach Chance as my New York dad.”
For his future endeavors Lopez aspires to be a professional boxer. He admits that this is a rare and highly difficult feat, so he has humbled himself with the concept of just competing as an amateur boxer, earning as many championship belts as possible. “I want my room to be covered in awards, trophies and belts,” he said animatedly. In addition, Lopez wants to open his very own gym where he can serve as a mentor to disadvantaged teenagers. He wants to create a place that he would have benefitted from as a child. A place that would show troubled teens, like himself, that there is a better way of life.
“I want to create a safe environment where kids can speak their mind, learn respect, and dedication,” he said. “I want to teach others that no one can keep you down. No matter what people say I want to make it big, and they can do the same,” Lopez said. He describes his passion as a catalyst for change and opportunity for those that are less fortunate than others—a place where children can feel confident and articulate themselves properly. “Those are just some of my aspirations for now, but I know that before I can help others, I have to help myself,” he said.
At the moment Lopez is training for the 2017 National Golden Gloves match, which will run next year between the months of January and April. Follow his training journey on Instagram @_ryanlopez_1
Photos courtesy of: Ryan Lopez and Matthew Cofrancesco