Marquette Wire

Feliciano steps into professional ring

MU grad is ranked No. 1 by USA Boxing in light welterweight division

Feliciano+graduated+from+Marquette+May+2015+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Luis+Feliciano%29
Feliciano graduated from Marquette May 2015 (Photo courtesy of Luis Feliciano)

Feliciano graduated from Marquette May 2015 (Photo courtesy of Luis Feliciano)

Feliciano graduated from Marquette May 2015 (Photo courtesy of Luis Feliciano)

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Luis Feliciano walks out of Johnston Hall for what is likely his last time. After four and a half years at Marquette, the 22-year-old will finally pick up his diploma and leave campus for the foreseeable future.

By next week he will be in Los Angeles, meeting with managers and agents to discuss his boxing future, which is very bright for the Milwaukee native.

USA Boxing’s No. 1 ranked fighter in the light welterweight division (141 lbs.), Feliciano is a five-time amateur national champion. Last summer he represented the U.S. at the 2015 Pan American games in Toronto, finishing 1-1 and tied for fifth place.

“It was just a great experience,” Feliciano said. “It was just an honor to represent my country, my family, my city. It was a blessing honestly. These are the top guys in the country and in the world you’re fighting.”

 

A month ago, Feliciano participated in the U.S. Olympic trials for an opportunity to go to the games. For the second time in his career, Feliciano came up short, bowing out in the quarterfinals. It was the last amateur competition of his life, as he sets his sights on the professional landscape.

“This is my last ride, but either way, like I said, two Olympic trials, five-time national champion,” Feliciano said. “I’ve represented my country internationally, I’ve gotten that privilege. I’d say that’s a pretty good amateur career, … so our goal now is to become world champion.”

Graduating from college and having a degree makes Feliciano a unique story in the boxing world, which he believes is to his advantage.

“Not many people in the boxing game can say that they have a college degree,” Feliciano said. “So, just my process of thinking and the way I did things, I definitely grew as an individual inside and outside the sport with this aspect of having an education. Being here at Marquette, it’s definitely made me a better person.”

Boxing and training since he was just 8 years old, Feliciano has always dreamt of boxing professionally and following in the footsteps of some of his boxing idols.

His favorite fighter was Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad. “(He) was one of the best of his time, and I grew up wanting to be just like him,” Feliciano said. “His connection with the culture, with his people, I kind of fell in love with that. I was like, ‘Man, I want to be like Tito!’”

His biggest motivations, though, came from his family and community.

“My parents came from Utuado, Puerto Rico, and they grew up very poor,” Feliciano said. “This is what they envisioned – to have their son graduate from a great college like Marquette and obviously be successful within the sport. So my motivation, I just want to be successful for them.”

The Milwaukee community provides another source of inspiration for Feliciano. He said that he wants to set a good example for youth, as a leader and a role model.

“Anything is possible, no matter what background you come from, what side of the town you live in, anything is possible and you can do it,” Feliciano said.

It was never easy for Feliciano, training six days a week and earning a degree, and although there were times he wanted to quit and focus on boxing, he looks back with no regrets.

“We’re talking about waking up at as early as 7, 8 o’clock in the morning to go train,” Feliciano said. “Put in our strength and conditioning, that’s about an hour, hour and a half, then I’d come home, change, come here to class. I understood that this kind of dedication, this kind of discipline is what it’s going to take for me to be successful with the sport.”

With the challenges of being a full-time student and national champion amateur boxer while coming from a poor family, graduation was a special experience for Feliciano and for his family.

“To see my parent’s faces, my family’s reaction to it, everyone was so proud of me,” Feliciano said. “I’m the very first person in my family to attend and graduate college, so it was just a blessing. I felt relief, it just felt good.”

Now that graduation is behind him, he’s looking to find a connected manager with experience dealing with world champions.

“(The) next couple months are going to be busy,” he said.

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