Jose Rodriguez, who owns Plant City Boxing Gym, is used to training others. Now he’s getting ready for a fight of his own.
Chevelle Hallback made headlines when her five-year drought without a bout came to an end, and she stayed in them when she won both that fight and the rematch. She’s living proof that one’s age doesn’t have to be a limitation.
That’s why Jose Rodriguez, best-known as the owner of Plant City Boxing Gym and a longtime trainer for everyone from kids to seasoned pros, is getting back into the ring in a few weeks.
“God gave me a second chance,” Rodriguez said. “He keeps giving me second chances. Even at this age I think you have to follow your dreams. Chevelle, that was my inspiration. She had it. She was banging, throwing punches and I’m like, ‘I gotta get me a fight.’ T&K Boxing Promotions got me a fight.”
His last fight was 31 years ago. Back then, he was an amateur living and fighting in Puerto Rico. This upcoming fight will be his first on the professional level and he’s not treating it as something one does because they’re having a midlife crisis. At 50, he’d rather put his skills to the test and see how far he can go than, say, buy a Harley and a set of golf clubs.
“I’m gonna win,” he said. “I’m gonna throw down. Everything’s on the line for me. I’m not taking this as just a boxing match, I’m taking it as everything on the line for me.”
Rodriguez will face Josh Boudreaux, 38, who is also a bare-knuckle boxer. He’s getting plenty of help from within the gym to get ready for the fight. Hallback, Jason Crosby, Anthony Holmes, Andres Cruz and David Torres have lent their coach their full support and even some of the kids who train at the gym are feeding off of Rodriguez’s energy.
“I take it serious,” Rodriguez said. “I get up at 5 a.m. and do strength and conditioning with Anthony. Then I come here after work and I train with Chevelle, we spar. I get in the ring with Andres, David and Jason, all of them. Even the little kids that want a part of it. They get excited because they see you training hard and now they want to do the same… I think that if my people — my trainers here in Plant City Boxing Gym — if they thought I couldn’t do it, they would be straight up with me. I’m 50 years old. I’m fast but I can’t over-train. Everything hurts. When I wake up in the morning, I roll out that bed. But it’s OK. I can deal with it. I just want to do this.”
Rodriguez and Boudreaux will fight at 147 pounds on T&K’s All or Nothing 3 card. The event will be held Oct. 17 at the Polk Theatre, 121 Florida Ave. S., Lakeland and doors open at 5 p.m. Social distancing will be practiced and tickets can be bought online at polktheatre.org. Rodriguez is completely confident he’ll succeed in the ring, but wants to make one thing clear: win, lose or draw, he’s out there to show everyone that you can do great things at any age if you believe in yourself.
“There’s no better feeling than this,” Rodriguez said. “I’m newly reborn. It’s like everything started again and I got my life back again. It don’t matter how old you are. Whatever it is you’re trying to do, don’t let nobody get between you and that. You know as a person, in your inner self, how you’re gonna do. If you don’t have it, you know you don’t have it. If you have it, go get it. It doesn’t even have to be boxing — it can be other things. Don’t let nobody stop you from that. I don’t care who it is.”