"My name is Joshua ... I am 19 years old. I was born and raised in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx ... in Mitchel Houses. I am of Puerto Rican and West Indian descent. My mother was a single teenage mother so I grew up without a father. She gave birth to me at the age of 15 along with my 3 other siblings. I’m the oldest of the four so I had to play the role model for my siblings when my mother couldn’t be around. My mother graduated high school and then went on to complete college for her Associates, Bachelors and Masters Degree at the College of New Rochelle.
Growing up without a father present was a very rough experience. The things I know about life now I either learned from my mother when she was able to and wasn't at school or work, or I simply learned it from the streets. The streets made me "tough" so that "toughness" is what I showed to everyone around me. Growing up as a very small kid I was already a target for bullies, so I would always get into a lot of trouble. The teachers always knew me as well as the principals and it wasn’t always for good reasons. I wasn't the best behaved student in school but, I was very intelligent and was always told I had a lot of potential to be a great student if only I applied myself.
I was always very athletic growing up. I played a lot of Basketball and Football, and always had a liking for Boxing. One day I asked my grandfather to take me to a boxing gym and once I was there I instantly fell in love. I had never stepped foot in a Boxing gym prior to being in this one, yet I felt as if I'd known this place my whole life, almost as if I was at home. I began training at 12 years old. Boxing became my escape from the responsibilities at home, the problems in the streets and the troubles at school. I made sure that I was in the gym every day after school even if I could only be there for an hour or 30 minutes, I made sure I went. Soon I was fighting in tournaments all over and winning. I became great at something I was proud of. Boxing was a gateway for me, my way out.
In 2009 I entered in the 82nd annual Daily News Golden Gloves Tournament and fought at Madison Square Garden for the finals. Even though I came short of a victory, it is an experience I will never forget. Shortly after, at the age of 17 I learned that I was going to become a father. I entered again the following year and never made it past the semifinals but I performed so well that I was asked to represent New York City’s Golden Gloves for the national tournament in Little Rock, Arkansas. I reached the semifinals there also, and even though I didn’t win the nationals the exposure was one to remember. On August 26th, 2010, after returning from the tournament my son was born and it was the happiest day of my life.
With this new life in my hands and preparing for what’s to come I was able land a job at Pay-o-Matic Check Cashing and Financial Services as a Service Associate. My shift was from 12am-8am. I figured that I’d still be able to work and train, but once school started it became harder to make time for Boxing then I had ever expected. Instead of sacrificing my dreams and goals in boxing I chose to sacrifice sleep; I worked a 12-8 shift, went home to change and then train, after training I’d go home to freshen up and then go to school. After school I’d spend time with my son then back to work I’d go. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to make it to school because my son’s mother and I would take turns attending. Since we both enrolled in the same school we believed it would make things less challenging for us as students. This however, affected my performance in the gym because I would simply be too exhausted from my hectic schedule.
I decided to enter in this year’s Golden Gloves Tournament but came up short in the quarterfinals. I plan on putting full dedication into boxing as I once did before once school is over. I will enter one more Golden Gloves Tournament and then turn professional in the spring of 2012 but not before experiencing what college life is like. I am currently in my last year of high school and I am planning on completing it entirely by August before heading to college. I was thinking of attending a local college so I could be close to my son and family. This will son my son what it takes to be successful in life when the odds are against you.
One thing I can say, The Responsible Fatherhood and Opening Doors to the Future program was there for me when I really needed the support. This program has significantly motivated me to continue to do my part as a father to my seven month old son. The program has helped me to better communicate with my son’s mother and has also given me the motivation to better my education and continue on to college. I feel that this program and staff have effectively changed my life. It has shaped my thinking, my understanding and has given me the trivial tools needed to succeed after high school. I am a better man because of this program and my son will be too."