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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

A puncher’s chance at making it to London

Photo courtesy of Luis Feliciano.

You may not know him yet, but you will.

Luis Feliciano is a name that flies under the radar since most colleges do not offer boxing as an NCAA sport, but at the age of 18, Feliciano is fighting for an opportunity to represent the United States at the Olympic games in London this summer.

Feliciano is a three-time USA Boxing national champion and has made two national teams for the United States and Pan-America on the youth level. He is no stranger to winning hardware, racking up medals and trophies everywhere he goes around the globe.

In the fall, when Feliciano was not throwing fists in the ring or training at the United Community Center Gym in Milwaukee, he could be found anywhere on the Marquette campus among his fellow freshmen. Since then, he has decided to suspend his second semester to focus on his training and fights leading up to the road to London.

Feliciano’s next few months will serve as his second and final opportunity to make the 2012 United States Olympic Team. He fell short in the semi-finals at the Olympic qualifiers in August of 2011 and is out to top himself.

“It’s go hard or go home for me, because there are no more options,” Feliciano said. “I have to do this now.”

Leaving one frigid city for another, Feliciano departed from Milwaukee to Denver last weekend to begin competition at nationals. Fights span over a week, so he will be fighting five or six times. Winners in Colorado move on to competition in Brazil that takes place in May. If he finds himself victorious two or three times in Brazil and finishes in the top-four of the tournament, Feliciano will be bound for London for the summer games.

Feliciano will have one of the best in the sport in his corner, as he has been training with former United States Olympic coach Israel Acosta since he was eight years old.

Since retiring from boxing at the amateur and national level, Acosta has coached 19 national champions. He has worked with professionals like Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya.

Acosta was a victim of the United State’s boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics and still rues the missed opportunity at immortality.

“I was so close to winning the gold medal. My goal is that if Feliciano can win the gold medal, I’m going to feel good,” Acosta said. “If he does that, God has given me all that I want.”

When talking about the best boxers he has ever coached, Acosta has Luis Feliciano in a class with Wisconsin amateur champion Hector Colon and sees a lot of similarities at the age of 18.

“(Feliciano) is the best of the new generation,” Acosta said. “He wants to be a champ. He wants to be somebody. He takes the sport seriously. His girlfriend is boxing. He is dedicated to it, and that is how I used to be.”

Feliciano took a break from all the people he knew at Marquette to train in Puerto Rico for three months starting in December. His parents and Acosta were behind the decision to shift his focus from school to training.

Upon returning in the middle of February, Acosta was stunned at how conditioned and in-shape Feliciano returned.

“He’s in phenomenal shape,” Acosta said. “A few days ago I saw him sparring, and I said to myself, ‘Feliciano is ready.’”

Fighters in Colorado will have to be on the look out for Feliciano’s quick hands that are capable of throwing more punches than one may expect, fellow United Community Center boxer Tommy Hill said.

“He’s energetic and shoots a lot of punches. He will stand there and fight with anybody.” Hill said. “He can box, and he can bang. He’s a brawler and a boxer.”

Acosta takes it one day at a time with Feliciano but is very confident in how far Feliciano can go his second time around.

“I would give it a 95 percent chance that (Feliciano) can make the Olympic team.” Acosta said. “You have to win at nationals first.”

Although there is pressure on Feliciano to make the Olympic squad, his maturity is a striking compliment to his fighting acumen.

“I have to do this, and there is no other option,” Feliciano said. “People come up to me saying they know I’ll be in Brazil in May. That adds a little bit of pressure, but I’m fine with that. Hopefully, I’m just going to give it my best.”

Winning is all that is on Feliciano’s mind as he strives to become the first Marquette student to ever box in the Olympics.

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