Student Spotlight: Junior Rudy Muñoz jabs at future in boxing

Junior Rudy Muñoz connects with his Mexican heritage through boxing. Brittany Tankersley | Photo Editor

By Catherine Richard | Guest Contributor

Chicago, Ill., junior Rudy Muñoz was born into boxing. He takes boxing very seriously, as he currently trains at Power Boxing in West Chicago to be more like his childhood hero, Canelo Álvarez.

Muñoz said both sides of his family idolize boxing. He said they would watch the HBO boxing channel in its primetime. There were lots of positives to this side of his life, he said.

“Getting into training and pursuing, I don’t know, it was around every crevice in my life that I looked,” Muñoz said.

Muñoz’s dad was in the military, so boxing was a way to instill discipline, he said. He also said his dad would take him to training meets and see how other kids fight. Muñoz said as a child, he loved the “Rocky” movies — so much he could probably do every training montage and sing every song on the soundtrack a cappella.

“It was where my hobbies lined up, it was where culture lined up,” Muñoz said. “`Being Mexican, I mean, boxing is one of the only things we get painted in a good light for, so much to the point that the expression ‘to fight like a Mexican’ is carried with such reverence and such dignity in the world of boxing.”

Not everybody can step into the ring, Muñoz said, but boxing has always been there for him. Muñoz said it’s a place where you kind of lose yourself.

One of his favorite matches wasn’t an official one. After his first year of college, Muñoz went back home to his gym and stayed around for sparring. His opponent had really fast hands and was a couple of years older, so Muñoz said he had to do a lot of calculating in his head in order to beat him.

Toward the end of the spar, Muñoz was being pushed into a corner — the last place you want to be. He said he spun out of the corner and started to bait him into the center of the ring. He hooked him right in the ribs, which made his opponent’s arm tight. This was affecting his speed, so Muñoz clocked him in the face, he said.

“One thing I do appreciate that I got from my dad is that I am heavy-handed as hell,” Muñoz said. “If I hit something there’s gonna be a little knock-back to it.”

Muñoz said that he never really gets nervous.

“Honestly this might sound cliche, I never really got nervous like that,” Muñoz said. “I’ve been more nervous for swim meets when I was 10 years old than I have most of the boxing and wrestling matches I’ve been in. At the end of the day, it’s just a fight. But I will say though, the most nervous I’ve ever been was never when I was in the ring, but when my little brother started boxing. He’s still continuing that now.”

Muñoz’s brother is 10 years old and also trains occasionally. Muñoz said he took his brother to a boxing ring over the summer and coached him and gave him advice.

“Watching him get hit is what I imagine my mother must’ve felt watching me wrestle all those times and get double hit down straight to the ground,” Muñoz said, “So it wasn’t too good. Luckily the kid’s good and doesn’t like getting hit.”

Muñoz said he is working to implement two different styles of boxing: a Mexican style of boxing and the Peekaboo style. The Peekaboo is a common name for the defensive hand position. Cus D’Amato, a boxing trainer, was known for using this method.

Muñoz said marrying those two styles with his long arms and hard frame would be advantageous. Canelo Álvarez, he said, is his boxing hero and Caesar Chavez is like lightning in a bottle when it comes to devastating blows and fast combos.

“Boxing taught me if there’s a will there’s a way,” Muñoz said. “It makes anybody the most stubborn person imaginable. It’s taught me you’re only going to get out what you put in. It’s so many things. There are days where I’ve clearly gotten my ass handed to me, and there are days where I’m the king of the world.”

His friends, Sean Kendrick and Noah Obando, both theatre majors as well, said they know that Muñoz is passionate about boxing.

“He’s always been really determined,” Kendrick said. “He never backs down.”

Obando said he loves hearing about Muñoz’s interests and considers him like a brother.

“Rudy’s boxing is really fun to hear and watch,” Obando said. “Some of our conversations have been about how he fights and how fighting is honestly an escape for him. The way he talks about boxing is very engaging as anyone can honestly see that this is a passion he truly loves being a part of.”