He’s a boxing phenom that already won a Silver Gloves National title at the age of 13. Now, Kevin Ochoa-Limbeck is 18 and has moved up to the Golden Gloves division where he recently won the Oregon state title and the western regional title and, in doing so, punched a ticket to Philadelphia for the national tournament.
The tournament gets underway Monday and runs through Saturday. The top two finishers in each weight division qualify for the Olympic trials.
“I don’t know what to expect because this is my first time going to National golden gloves. But I know that the level’s going to be high, so I expect that much. I expect that there’s going to be a lot of tough opponents over there and I expect that I’, going to have to fight,” said Kevin when we caught up with him recently for training.
“He’s in really good shape physically, mentally. I don’t think I’ve seen him this excited to go to a tournament, ever. So, yeah. I expect good things from him,” said Richard Miller, Kevin’s coach and trainer.
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The tournament is single-elimination. If you lose, you’re out.
“One and done. But we don’t plan on that. I think he plans on being the eliminator,” said Richard.
“Preparation has been good. I’ve been training, running, eating clean and on a diet. And I’ve been training up to four times a day, so preparation has been good.” said Kevin.
“He’s fast. He’s strong. He’s hungry. He’s in great, great shape and, I mean, he’s on,” said Richard.
Kevin is fighting in the 156 pound weight class. His first fight is Tuesday. Kevin will either face Aaron Walden, who won the Indiana regional tournament, or Melvin Martinez from New York Metro.
His mindset will be the same no matter which one he faces.
“It’s the best of the best. I know that much. So I’m just going to go in there prepared to fight anybody. Whether they’re good or not, I expect them to be good. So, I’m ready,” said Kevin.
Richard says Kevin hasn’t coasted to this point.
“Certain people have to have a dream, but they lose focus of it. And some people want the dream but they don’t want to have to work for it. He works for it. And it’s here. And he’s realizing the hard work and effort that he’s put in,” said Richard.
“The good Lord puts us in this place and blesses us with the opportunity to achieve his dream,” Richard adds.
And, of course, there’s something every boxer must do when they go to the City of Brotherly Love.
“I’ve never been to Philadelphia, but I’m excited to run the stairs,” Kevin said, referencing the iconic scene in “Rocky.”
“That’s just a reminder where we’re going. We’re going to be right there, right in that big city,” said Richard.
The coach says he’s gratified to watch how much work Kevin has consistently put in for the past dozen years since walking into a gym at age six.
“This is a game that takes a lot out of you. He goes to school every day. Got to do his homework. Gotta run in the morning. We train in the evening. We’re gone on the weekends to compete. Sometimes we’re gone a week at a time. And to do that for 12 straight years, and now he’s in the men’s division. He’s not done yet. To me, his hunger is just now starting because this is something he can progress into his adult life and realize a dream,” said Richard.
If he wins Tuesday, Kevin’s quarterfinal bout would be Thursday. The semifinal is Friday and the title match is Saturday.