The connection that 2017 Indian Trail graduate Luis Alvarado has made with his boxing coaches doesn’t take long to figure out.
All one needs to do is see the smile on the 20-year-old’s face when asked about what they’ve both meant to his success.
It lights up the room.
Next month, Alvarado and his coaches, Carlos Aguilar and Joel Ramos, will travel to Lake Charles, La., where Alvarado will compete for a berth in the 2020 Olympics in the 201-pound (super heavyweight) division.
Alvarado didn’t hesitate to give credit to both for his success in the sport that he began just two years ago as a way to get into better physical condition.
“Carlos and Joel mean the world to me,” he said. “I look at them as coaches, friends, family, but also as my mentors and father figures.
“Both of them have told me some really good advice, not just in boxing, but in life. You can’t quit when you’re getting beat up and in life when stuff holds you down. They’re the people I go to in an emergency, that’s for sure.”
Alvarado didn’t know either of his coaches when he arrived one day at Go The Distance Fitness in Kenosha.
But for whatever reason, the connection was quickly made.
“Carlos took me in when I was at the other gym, and he gave me a shot,” Alvarado said. “He doesn’t just give anybody a shot. I don’t know what he saw in me, but I guess he saw something, and he wanted to mold it and nurture it.”
Aguilar said the admiration goes both ways.
All his pupil needed was a chance.
“He’s always been the kid that nobody believed in. (Making the Olympics) would show people that if he can make it, anybody can make it. ... I always believed in him. He believed in himself. He just kept pushing and pushing.”
When Alvarado spoke with a reporter, the gym was filled with much-younger would-be boxers preparing to train with their coaches.
But many of their eyes were fixed on him — and even though he seemed to dismiss the idea that he’s a role model at the young age of 20, Alvarado did admit there’s at least one person he’s already impacted.
And that’s his 17-year-old brother, Alberto.
“He strives to be like me a lot because he sees me and the adversity that I have to go against,” he said. “I’ve taken him to a couple of my sparring matches. He’s seen a fight or two, and his jaw has just dropped. He looks at me and is like, ‘If you can do that, what’s impossible?’”
For Aguilar, there’s no doubting the impact that Alvarado has and continues to make with the other pupils at the Tenacious Boxing Club, 3309 60th St., Kenosha.
“They admire him,” Aguilar said. “They see how hard he works. He sets a great example for the kids here. A lot of the kids really love him.”