Boxers take many paths to the ring. Sophomore political science major David James Dominguez had to walk through the valley of death.
On campus he is known as DJ, the guy who boxes, the guy who is always on his computer at Hardy, the guy who chews a pack of gum a day, or all three.
He is an Eagle Scout, has a red belt in Hapkido and is a huge comic book nerd. But his real passion is boxing.
As many student-athletes know, keeping up with education and sports is not an easy task. For Dominguez, it is difficult to box and attend college because he drives four times a week from Belton to Austin to train at Lord’s Boxing Gym.
On days that he does not go to Lord’s, he goes home to train with his father.
David Dominguez said, “(D.J) has so much potential. If he can become stronger physically and mentally and have the Lord in his life to guide him and give him strength not only physically but also spiritually, I think he can go far. His dream is to get into the Olympics, and that is not easy. He has the potential though.”
While boxing takes precedence in his life, DJ still values academics. He hopes to use his political science degree to go to law school.
DJ is grateful for his professors at UMHB because they understand his need to pursue boxing, but they still challenge him to learn.
Since he was four, DJ has been involved in martial arts ranging from Tae Kwan Do to Hapkido. When he was 13, he had some interest in boxing, but he did not begin until he was 19 years old.
His passion for boxing comes from the fact that he thinks God has inspired him to box.
“I was almost dead when I first started to box. I was insanely weak. My heart valve was leaking, and they told me it would take three to four years to physically recover. But God used boxing to bring me back. I started getting stronger, faster and had more confidence. Every door that would seemingly be closed was opened whether it was financial or physical,” Dominguez said.
He took initiative and researched boxing opportunities in Austin. His search took him to Richard Lord’s Boxing Gym, Austin’s premier boxing gym. Lord’s, formerly a storage garage, is now a Spartan -like gym covered floor to ceiling in trophies, title posters, gear and other boxing paraphernalia.
“It is held together by blood and duct tape. Mr. Lord’s Gym is as much about the man as it is the place. Everything about it screams personal style,” DJ said. “You see so much history there. There are the remains and the articles of former champions strewn about the gym. Nothing is given special credence. But everything is significant in its own way, and it is amassed in this place.”
The first time DJ stepped into the ring at Lord’s he took a beating, but never gave up.
Don Spencer, a trainer at Lord’s took DJ under his tutelage for free after seeing that first sparring session. Spencer has more than 40 years of boxing experience and is a generous man.
“My first impression of DJ was that he had a lot of heart. …He was a scrapper, and he wanted to fight so bad. He didn’t have the skills to fight this kind of fight, but I saw how hard he was trying. He didn’t quit, and that part I liked about him. I took it upon myself to give him some pointers,” Spencer said.
For the last four months DJ has trained for the Austin Regional Golden Gloves tournament. The Golden Gloves are the most recognized amateur competitions in America.
On the night of Feb. 16 he fought against novice welterweight Matt Bovee.
To get this fight, DJ asked to be moved up a weight class because there was no one for him to compete against. He wanted a fight and did not want to just get a free ride.
He jumped out of the blue corner and threw a flurry of punches at Bovee. For three one-and-a-half minute rounds Dominguez worked over his opponent; however when the fight was over, the decision went to the man in the red corner. The whole arena was in uproar over the decision.
David Quinonez, a fellow boxer, said, “It was clear he won it from the beginning bell to end bell. Everybody booed because everybody in this crowd knew he had won the fight and knew he’d been robbed.”
DJ was undone by the decision. All of his training was for this one fight.
“I was heartbroken not because I lost but because in my mind I had won. I doubted that the passion I felt was truly from God. I was scared because I still had that passion, but I didn’t know if God was on my side. I could never be the best without his help. That pretty much sunk my world.”
DJ’s family and friends stood by him and stepped in to encourage him.
His mother Donnas Dominguez told him, “In order to achieve it (your dream) you have to pray that God opens doors. You can’t sit back; you can’t expect God to do all the work though. You have to be twice as good as everyone else, and you have to try twice as hard.”
Spencer addressed the glaring scoring error he saw in the match, in the Golden Gloves morning meetings. A decision was made to compensate DJ for the error by giving him a tournament jacket. He received the jacket Friday night during the intermission.
DJ said, “I’m glad what happened, it taught me about trusting motivation from God. Sometimes you are robbed. I was robbed and fortunate enough to get it back.”
Now that he is done with the Golden Gloves tournament his next goal is to become an open fighter, which means he needs eight more fights.
DJ said, “Even though I had a technical loss, the special honor of getting the formal apology of getting the jacket was God’s way of showing me I was headed in the right direction and that greater things still lie ahead. The encouragement from my family kept me going for those two days.”