It wasn’t until everyone in the gym heard a loud “pow” when Gonzales graduate Ruben Ortiz finally got his family on board with his dream.
“She always said that she thought I’d get hurt or something,” Ortiz said of his mother.
But one day, while training in Seguin, the 18-year-old got in the ring and sparred for a bit.
“I really wanted to make a statement to her,” he said. “I was sparring, I hit that one dude with a straight left, and it was ‘pow’ you just heard it loud, the whole room got silent, and they were like, woah. I feel like after that day, my mom actually saw what I got. It was a few times I was sparring, and she saw, and I was telling her, ‘mom, I might get hurt but it’s not going to be that bad, trust me.’ I just feel like I got her trust the few times she saw me.”
And so began the boxing career of young Ruben Ortiz.
Although he didn’t begin boxing until his sophomore year of high school, Ortiz was always a fan of the sport. At family gatherings, while kids played outside, he stayed in with the adults to watching the fights.
“My dad would always get the fights on pay-per-view, and I would always be there — little kid was right there with all the adults,” he said. “Everybody else was playing, all the kids, but I was just right there focused on the TV.”
There were even a pair of boxing gloves that he got to use. Then his sophomore year, Ortiz began training by going to a gym in Seguin.
“We seen it in the paper,” Ortiz explained. “My dad was like, ‘how about we try that out?’ So, we did, and I ended up liking it. I told my dad, ‘I feel like I can do it. I want to go somewhere bigger.’ He said, ‘OK, how about let’s try San Antonio?’”
So, Ortiz began training at Castillo Boxing Gym, where his dad would take him as often as he could for the next few months. But driving back and forth to San Antonio proved to be too time consuming at the time.
“I felt like you kind of had to be known for them to look at you, because I was just a new kid in the gym, doing my own thing,” he said. “And then it was hard to go every day to San Antonio and come back every day, and then I had school, my dad had work in the morning, so we’d be going every day and then I stopped my junior year, senior year too.”
After graduating, Ortiz took what he described as a well-paying job with the Gonzales County Sheriff’s Department.
“I was going to work, I was having fun, I liked my job, and then I just started seeing [stories] about these few San Antonio boxers and I saw that they had a couple fights and they were from close by, San Antonio, where I go and box,” Ortiz said. “And they made it out. I said, you know what man? They’re so young. If they did it, I can too, as long as I put in effort.”
Ortiz quit his job, spent about $300 on new equipment, and is now training fulltime for this dream. When he’s not boxing at the gym, he’s training. When he’s not training, he’s watching fights, whether that’s on the DAZN app or other outlets, Ortiz is watching fights of all kinds from boxing to mixed martial arts. After all, the Apache graduate is a fan of combat sports.
Right now, Ortiz has three boxers who he looks up to.
“My main one from long time ago was Manny Pacquiao,” Ortiz said. “Man, that’s a legend right there. I just like his story on how he started off from nothing, sleeping in the gym, just so he can be training at the gym. From nowadays, it’s Vasyl Lomachenko and ‘Triple G’ [Gennadiy Gennadyevich Golovkin]. Those are my three main guys.”
Ortiz currently weighs 128 pounds, but wants to fight at 125, flyweight Since he’s just training and hasn’t had a fight yet, he isn’t too worried about weight just yet.
Another boxer Ortiz said was “a bad boy,” is Mikey Garcia. If that name is recognizable, it’s because his brother Robert Garcia opened a gym in San Antonio.
“I want to move to that gym,” Ortiz said.
Mikey Garcia is 39-1, taking his first loss ever back in March at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, in a unanimous decision against Errol Spence Jr.
Ortiz hopes to one day sell out the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
“I want to sell it out. That’s a dream of mine,” he said. “So close to home, I would like a lot of people from here, family, everything, to go there and see me fight. That’s a dream of mine, to sell it out.”
But for now, Ortiz is training. He hopes to have his first official fight before he turns 20 in December 2020. If he keeps up this training, he believes he’ll get where he needs to be.
“I feel like this is why I’m here,” Ortiz said. “I can go somewhere. I know I can. I believe in myself. I really know I can do something with this and I just want to put my full effort into it.”