“What’s Next for Corey Rodriguez”

There aren’t many kids who can go to high school for half a day, college for half a day, and train as a Golden Gloves boxer in their spare time.  But that’s what Corey Rodriguez did.  Having two uncles in the Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame, you could say boxing was in his blood.  Yet somehow he always knew that there was more to life.

Rodriguez began competing when he was only ten.  By the time he was 17 he was the Midwest Golden Gloves Champion.  He was extremely focused and disciplined, but school came first.  When his high school graduation came, he could’ve walked away with an Associate’s Degree from those half days spent at college.  Instead he hung up his gloves and headed to California.

Pomona, California.  Home of Sugar Shane Mosely.

Corey Rodriguez

Corey Rodriguez

But the pull to return to boxing wasn’t there at that time for Rodriguez.  Even though there were pictures of Mosely everywhere, Rodriguez wasn’t influenced by him.  His influence came, instead, from his father who had warned him of getting involved in boxing in California.  He cautioned that coaches there would feed him to the sharks.  It didn’t matter.  Between his studies at DeVry University and working thirty hours a week, there was no time for the gym.

Rodriguez knew he was getting soft.

With an engineering degree in hand and a sick father back in Minnesota, Rodriguez returned home.  He wanted to get back into the gym and start working out again.  In 2005 he began his comeback, taking on 25 amateur fights and finding some success.  In 2007 he was a National Golden Gloves quarter finalist, roughly top six in the nation.  He turned pro that same year and won his first four fights before losing to Dave Peterson in September of 2009.

Like many boxers, Rodriguez’ mother attended most of his matches—at first.  Toward the end she didn’t really want him to keep boxing, like many boxers’ mothers.  Especially after the devastating loss to Jamal James when a head-butt left him with a gash and stitches inside and outside his face over his eye.  He promised her he had some things to finish up, and then he would retire.

Fighting now out of Uppercut Gym in Minneapolis, Rodriguez balanced boxing and a professional life at Medronic medical device company.  He was in a new relationship and he and girlfriend Lyna were raising five children together.  He was starting to see more to life than boxing, but that didn’t make him any less of a threat in the ring.  He began fighting on cards put together by Zach Walters and Chuck Horton, mostly at Black Bear Casino in Carlton, Minnesota.  Rodriguez refers to the fights on those tickets as the “most fun” fights he’d ever had.  He was winning.  Things were good.

However, Rodriguez made a promise to his mother.

When he no longer felt like he had something to prove, he thought it would be good to go out a winner.  After defeating Stephen Watt twice, Damien Hill, Limberth Ponce, and Brandon Quarles, Rodriguez announced his retirement on New Year’s Eve 2014.  And even though she had been smoking since she was 14, his mother upheld her end of the bargain and quit—just as she had promised.    When asked if he’d ever come out of retirement and fight again Rodriguez answers no without any hesitation.  

“She quit smoking and I quit boxing.  I promised my mom.  I don’t have anything else to prove.  I have other things in life to focus on.”  

That is a good son.

So what is Rodriguez focusing on now?  School and family.  In June he’ll be starting grad school at the University of Minnesota where he hopes his education will further his career at Medtronic.  He’s hoping for education, good careers, and happy families for his children.  And for his future?

“I want to take lots of vacations and enjoy things in life besides fighting.  I’m looking forward to life after boxing.”

I’d say he’s earned it.

Author: Roxanne Wilmes

Roxanne is a freelance writer, author, ghostwriter, and avid boxing fan. She first met Chuck Horton when she ran his wife’s campaign for MN House of Representatives. Past experiences have led her to be a strong advocate for anti-bullying and substance abuse issues. You can reach her at roxannewilmes@gmail.com or @rocketwilmes on Twitter.