A puncher’s chance: Paradise boxer earns Gold Gloves title

By Austin Jackson | Published Saturday, March 16, 2019

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The Rhino

THE RHINO – Paradise junior Ryan Austin, 16, trains at the FHG Boxing gym in White Settlement Monday. Austin won the Golden Gloves regional tournament as a novice fighting at 144 pounds earlier in March. Messenger Photo by Austin Jackson

Upon opening the doors of FHG Boxing, a sanctuary of sweat housed at a run down strip mall in White Settlement, the aroma of middle school P.E. punches you right in the face.

Leather on leather violence fills the room as a dozen fighters of various pedigrees punish bags in unison, creating the sounds and smell of the sweet science.

Posters of fighters that have frequented the gym cover the walls. Some on the walls were there Monday night, including Edward Vazquez, a 24-year-old featherweight from Fort Worth. He’s 6-0 as a pro. Next to him is John Berry Jr, Tony Lopez and Trey Burns. All sponsored fighters, training for the next fight.

Watching intently is a sparring partner and upcoming welterweight known as the Rhino.

Fighter Chance

FIGHTER CHANCE – Paradise boxer Ryan Austin, 16, has been fighting for two years. He won the Golden Gloves regional tournament in Fort Worth as a novice. Messenger Photo by Austin Jackson

“Get it Rhino,” a fighter yells, as 16-year-old Paradise junior Ryan Austin shadow boxes, fists and sharp breath creating wind in the ring.

In March, Austin traveled to Fort Worth and won the Gold Gloves, defeating a southpaw with his trademark litany of punches.

Before the fight, Austin was calm, taking a nap. Everything changed when the bell rang.

The unassuming 16-year-old who can often be found singing Worship music at his church pelted his opponent with jabs and heavy rights, filling up the score sheet for a Golden Gloves championship. The Rhino came out.

Raymond Barrera, the owner of FHG Boxing, said Austin’s aggression sets him apart.

“We call him the Rhino,” Barrera said. “You see this guy in the ring, he’s a non-stop Rhino coming at you. He does not stop throwing punches. I call him the Mexican Rhino because he fights like a Mexican warrior.”

With the help of Barrera, Austin wants to be a great one day with his own poster on the wall.

Golden Gloves was a big accomplishment toward that dream, one that will set him up to compete in the open competition. He’s currently on the novice level.

Austin’s main focus is getting ready for the next tournament and the next fight.

“That’s what I’m working for right now,” he said.

Six nights a week for three hours a night, Austin follows in the footsteps of the Vazquez’ and Berry Jr’s of the boxing world, driving an hour from Paradise to White Settlement to see what it takes to be great.

He’s been fighting for two years, but Austin said he’s wanted to box since he was 8.

“My mom didn’t want me to, so I signed up for karate,” Austin said. “I got my junior black belt but I wanted to box.”

Eventually Austin got his wish in 2017 and got in the ring for the first time.

There wasn’t immediate success.

“I lost a lot,” Austin said. “But I kept coming.”

That’s what Barrera said sets Ryan apart – his drive and will. He keeps throwing punches in the ring and training in the gym.

Robby Austin, Ryan’s dad, said he sees a change in Austin when he steps foot in the ring.

“He’s the nicest, quietest kid,” Robby said. “He slept on the way to the Golden Gloves. He doesn’t get excited or ramped up. Then he gets in the ring, and they ring the bell. He puts on a mask or something. He’s nice and calm, and then something changes.”

One of the only days Ryan doesn’t train at the gym is Wednesday because he has church. According to his dad and his trainer, Austin’s a nice young man with good manors. Most of his peers at Paradise High School have no idea he boxes.

But there’s no doubt once the bell rings.

“Everybody that finds out he’s a boxer can’t believe it,” Robby said. “He gets underestimated. Some will come into the ring and think they’re in for a nice easy day and they get that right hand and it changes everything.”‘

Ryan has been working to get 10 fights under his belt. With 10, he can fight at the Open Division against tougher competition.

In the meantime, he follows the pro boxers and emulates what it takes to be great. Barrera said that is a recipe for success in the boxing world.

“He’s dedicated, drives the distance to come to my gym,” Barrera said. “From the years that he’s been here, he’s improved a lot. Hard work, dedication pays off. Here he is, a Golden Glove champion. This is just the beginning.”

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