photo: Instagram/@kingxkarlos

Like the majority of first-generation Mexican-Americans, fighting through adversity is just a way of life, even more so if your family comes from meager beginnings. 

We reported on Eunice Gonzalez's acceptance to UCLA, and how her parents played a huge role in that despite picking strawberries for 20 years. I wrote about my own families perseverance as farm workers. So even though Carlos Balderas, a first-generation Mexican-American lightweight Olympic boxer, lost his match in Rio, hearing speak about his family's struggles and triumphs is a complete joy. 

Here's why.

Carlos began training as a boxer at the age of 7, as "a way to keep him out of trouble," NBC reports.

Zenon Balderas, Carlos's dad, trained both him and his brother, Jose, every night. He was adamant about keeping his boys out of gangs and wanted them to aspire to become more than a field worker like himself.

"I told myself I needed to do something. I didn't want them to be the same as me when I was young," Zenon told the Los Angeles Times.

All of his training paid off as he became the first member of the USA Boxing team to qualify for the 2016.

Man on a mission ???????????????? #RoadtoRio ????????

A photo posted by KARLOS BALDERAS ???????? (@kingxkarlos) on

Carlos's journey in the 2016 Rio Olympics has been truly amazing to watch.

And his family has been glued to the TV for each fight.

Carlos told the Los Angeles Times that his father helped his family go to Rio so they could support him, unfortunately his dad didn't have enough funds for his own ticket.

"My dad was the one that was doing a lot of the fundraising. My dad and my uncle," Balderas told The Los Angeles Times. "And he fell short. He couldn't come."

However, his main inspiration for wanting to bring home the Gold medal was able to make it to Rio: his grandfather.

Carlos says that his biggest inspiration are his grandparents.

My biggest motivation...

A photo posted by KARLOS BALDERAS ???????? (@kingxkarlos) on

His first fight against Kazakhstan's Berik Abdrakhmanov was a success!

"With a contingent of USA fans cheering him on, Balderas defeated Abdrakhmanov in a 29-28 win by points decision. It was a unianimous decision by the judges," NBC reports.

His second fight, just two days ago, was another big win!!

Carlos fought against Japan's Daisuke Narimatsu.

"I knew it was going to be a tough fight," Carlos told the Los Angeles Times. "But it was a lot harder than I thought. This guy kept eating everything, he just kept coming forward. He was in great shape because he was taking a lot of hard body punches. And was giving them back as well."


Today he fought against Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba, and unfortunately the fight didn't go in our favor.

While it was a close fight, and Balderas thought he had knocked down Alvarez, "the referee ruled it a slip." The judges ruled by unanimous decision that Alvarez won 30-27.


But to us, his hometown of Santa Maria, CA, his Latino community, and Mexican-Americans everywhere, he's already a winner.

I wouldn't be where I'm at if it wasn't for the people behind me . . .

A photo posted by KARLOS BALDERAS ???????? (@kingxkarlos) on

We can't wait to see what he does next. 

¡Arriba y adelante! Karlos!