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Stories of Strength: Lubbock Warriors making champions in ring, in life

Published: Feb. 27, 2022 at 8:52 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KJTV) - While boxing is one of the lesser-known sports in our community, Lubbock’s Optimist Boys & Girls Club has been producing champions in and out of the ring, especially through its organization - the Lubbock Warriors.

For years, Joseph Rosendo has been the face of the group. Rosendo has stood in its ring for most of his life, as a fighter, and now as a boxing coach.

“I remember being little to where they would let us come around, play, come in, hit the bags for five to ten minutes, and then go back outside and play with the kids out there in the Boys & Girls Club, (and then) come back,” Rosendo said. “They’d let us do whatever we wanted, and it just kind’ve stuck.”

The Warriors range in age from eight to 23. They hold state and national championships. However, in-ring success isn’t their main goal.

“We want them to be a productive member of society when they leave, so we want to leave that impression,” Rosendo said. “That hard work and dedication is going to pay off. No matter what it is you’re doing in life, we do it during the sport. This sport is one of the hardest sports you’re ever going to do. But we teach them, if you’re going to get through this, you can take on any challenge in life.”

Val Suarez is one of the program’s main students, who enjoys the fights, and the hard work involved.

“I love the sweet science behind it,” Suarez said. “The hours of work and dedication you have to put into it, just to fight - let alone win and be successful, and be one of the greats.”

While the physical part of boxing is obvious, Coach Rosendo feels the mental side is much greater.

“I would say the mental part of it’s probably 85 to 90 percent of the sport. You’ve got to be a strong person in your mind. You’ve got to be sound to just go out there and react, and do what you need to do,” he said. “The outlet that it gave me, just to be able to provide that back to somebody else, it means the world to me”.

For generations, the Lubbock Warriors haven’t just been a team. They’ve been a family.

“From the little guys to the people my age, these are my brothers, especially Coach Joseph,” Suarez says, “Don’t tell him I said this, but I love him. I love him so much! Coach Edward... These are my father figures. This is a real big family for me.”

Rosendo serves as a sergeant for the Lubbock Police Department’s domestic violence unit, and works with juvenile offenders. When asked about his dedication to the Warriors, Rosendo gave a short, thoughtful answer that brought a tear to his eye:

“I’ll put it to you this way. Family. This is home.”

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