BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Bakersfield has a rich culture in the sport of boxing. One soon-to-be Ridgeview graduate has made a name for himself on the national stage. 23ABC Sports Director Kari Osep shares his story.
Boxing is a sport of sacrifice. The sacrifices of your body, your time, and much of your mental discipline in hopes of reaching success. Joel Iriarte has been surrounded by people willing to sacrifice and his shared purpose with them has led to his national success and he hopes beyond.
When not at school, you’ll likely find Joel training in his personal gym. Which just so happens to be in his backyard.
He began boxing at six years old and with a foundation grown right at home .iriarte recorded 17 national championships by the age of 17. And as 18-year-old nearing graduation, he is the top national boxer in his division with the goal of representing Team USA in the Olympics upon turning 19.
"It became one of my passions to become one of the best boxers that I am capable of."
There are a lot of people in Joel’s corner contributing to that success including his father and coach Temo and there’s also Carlos Hernandez. Who is also like family.
"He had that ambition like I did and it just clicked right away," said Joel.
"We formed a special connection, not only him but his whole family," added Hernandez.
Hernandez has served as Joel’s strength and conditioning coach for the past three years.
"If you’re gassed in the first round you’re most likely not going to be able to win or pull through so strength and conditioning, what he does, is everything to the sport," continued Joel.
But his service doesn’t end with fitness.
"He was going to work even had night shifts, he would come do his whole night and when he was off even at six in the morning we would go out with him and train."
Hernandez is also an officer with the Bakersfield Police Department.
"I come and zone out. I’m happy over here and I forget about everything going on around me or outside," said Hernandez.
While they both serve a purpose in each other’s lives while chasing the same passion. They also share an understanding of each other’s sacrifices.
"He’s actually risking his life. A single punch whether you’re wearing headgear or not could end your life," said Hernandez.
"And we motivate each other, you know, he’s out there risking his life potentially and I’m out risking my life so it’s a connection we understand," responded Joel.
All of that strengthening their bond outside the ropes.
"His passion of being an officer, I wish him the best and I hope we can continue to grow together in this passion that we share which is boxing."
"I hope he can conquer it all. Conquer or, you know to be recognized by the whole world of boxing that you know, people whenever they mentioned boxing they are going to say, 'hey, the kid from Bakersfield, Joel.' I hope he gets to that level and I know he can," said Hernandez.
And inspiring those following in his footsteps.
"I’m trying to prove to them that anything that is possible no matter where you are, in your backyard training, as long as you put in the discipline and put in the hard work that anything is possible," said Joel.