Arturo Rodriguez

Arturo Rodriguez

Hit-Fit Boxing Studio – Owner/Coach

Published Sept. 2023

Boxing Brought Rodriguez Back To Life

The Uvalde school shooting really broke my heart.

I remember that day so clearly, I felt such deep pain watching all that unfold on the news. I have two kids—a 10-year-old and a six-year-old—and that day just made me feel so sad. I was just overwhelmed by this feeling that I have to try and do something. I’ve got to do something to help kids, however I can, to make sure something like this never happens here.

I spent most of my childhood between Goshen and Mexico. I went to Chamberlain Elementary School and I graduated from Goshen High School. I know Goshen is a nice, quiet place, and not much of a boxing town. People here maybe don’t see a lot of value in it, or they think it’s just guys getting hit in the face. But for me, when I’m working with kids at my gym, that’s my way of trying to help make sure nothing like Uvalde ever happens again, anywhere. Because I’d rather see a stressed out or troubled kid pick up a pair of boxing gloves than pick up a gun.

And I know what kind of positives boxing can bring out in a kid.

I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve seen the worst kind of trouble makers walk into a boxing gym—and two weeks later they were completely different people. Like, people they knew before would barely recognize them or the sound of their voice.

I think there are a lot of reasons why kids respond to boxing training so much. One thing is it allows them to work out their stress in a healthy way, in a ring, with rules and a code of conduct. These are stressful times we live in; kids are up against a lot these days, maybe more than in the past. So just being in a gym, working out some steam in a supervised space, has a lot of benefits for kids; whether there’s a lot of talent there or not.

That’s one of the other things kids recognize in boxing, and something I stress to my students more than anything else. That’s the idea that talent doesn’t really matter that much in boxing. It’s everywhere. There’s no shortage of talent. What makes you great, and the only thing that can make you great in this sport, is hard work and pure dedication.

It’s all about effort, and—last time I checked—effort is still free. And effort requires no talent.

Kids see something in that; they see that there is honesty and fairness in the gym. Boxing gives back to you based on the effort you put into it, and boxing will call you out if you’re cutting corners or not giving it your all. There’s no faking it in here, and kids respect that.

Arturo and Emiliano Rodriguez
Arturo Rodriguez, left, of Goshen’s Hit-Fit Boxing Studio, poses with his nephew, Emiliano Rodriguez, at the 2023 National Junior/Youth Golden Gloves in Orlando, Florida.

When I was young my dad wanted me to be a boxer. But my mom didn’t want me to, she didn’t want to see me get punched. So I was mainly a soccer player as a kid.

After high school, when I was in college in Mexico, the school hosted a boxing tournament and I decided to enter it. With no coach and no real training I won that tournament and that was when I first realized I had a talent for this sport. So I jumped in headfirst with training in Mexico.

I competed as an amteur until 2013 and when I was getting ready for my pro debut I suffered an eye injury and I wasn’t able to continue boxing. It was tough; I’d worked so hard to get to that point. I dealt with depression, and then in 2016 my mom—who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008—passed away. I started drinking and doing dumb things. I wasn’t taking care of myself, physically, and I gained a lot of weight. I was getting in trouble and I felt like I was losing myself.

I knew I had to do something, and it was boxing that brought me back to life.

Over the years a lot of local kids had asked me to teach them and I knew it was time for me to start doing that. For a couple of years I trained kids here in Goshen in public parks and in garages, and then one day Bryan Barrick, from Barrick Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, asked me if I wanted to use his space to train the kids one day a week.

I did, and before I knew it we had so many students that we needed more days. It was a humble beginning, but my time there at Barrick BJJ eventually pushed me to open up my own gym in 2022. I’m coaching full-time now, and it’s been a blessing.

Just a few weeks ago I coached my nephew Emiliano Rodriguez at the 2023 National Junior & Youth Golden Gloves competition in Orlando, Florida. Emiliano lost in the semifinals, but he did really well, and he’s since moved to Dallas so he can pursue his dream in a more established boxing area.

That was my first time doing something like that—coaching at a national event. It was a great experience, and I hope to take more fighters from Goshen to tournaments in the future. I’d love to have a fighter from Goshen go on to have success, maybe represent this town in the Olympics or make a name for himself, or herself.

At the end of the day, I think the best benefit of boxing—and this is maybe the one thing that really helps kids to get out of a negative headspace—is that it tests you so deeply on a mental level. The training and the focus required. The time. The sweat. The challenge. And there’s pain, too, if you don’t properly protect yourself. It teaches you to be responsible and aware. It teaches you to be mentally tough and not try and blame things on everyone else.

I’m glad to be able to teach young kids that you don’t need to be getting mad, or getting even, and resorting to violence. You can be mature, and accountable for yourself. You can work hard, be dedicated, be excited to learn, and work on your feelings—and work on yourself—in a boxing gym.

Hit-Fit Boxing Studio, 302 S. Main Street, offers Kids Boxing for ages 8-11, Boxing 101 for ages 12+, the Double R.R. Fight Team for more advanced students, and a range of programs for people of all ages interested in The Sweet Science. For more information, call Coach Arturo at (574) 536-6376 or visit Hit-Fit’s website here

Written by Jake Sandock