KENOSHA — Kenosha native Luis Alvarado didn't grow up with dreams of being a boxer.
"No, not at all. I grew up overweight and I was just trying to lose weight. Then I fell in love with the sport after competing in it," says Luis.
Yet the minute he started to train with Carlos Aguliar, it was clear Luis had natural ability.
"My coach Carlos was telling me about the Wisconsin Golden Gloves. He said it would be a cool experience and it would be fun. So I did it," says Luis.
You could say it was love at first loss.
"I lost but I did it, and I had fun doing it. So I wanted to do it again and get a win under my belt," says Luis.
Battling to many victories since that initial loss, Luis has punched his ticker to events across the country - with the highlight of his amateur career qualifying for the Olympic Trials ahead of the 2020 games in Tokyo.
"I was in supreme condition, I had supreme confidence and I had all the skills I needed to win. You know I had everything," says Luis.
Finishing with a bronze medal in hand, Luis was set to train with Team USA, staying ready if needed. Then, like everything else in the world, it came to a screeching halt as COVID-19 became a global pandemic.
"Probably the most difficult in the world. No gyms were opened, not even this gym in Kenosha was open," says Luis. "A lot of what I did, in the beginning, was just home training, hitting the bag at the house, and just doing a lot of things on my own. If you're an athlete, you know that's not a way to stay up there."
With the Olympics and boxing back on schedule, Luis looks to pick up where he left off at the U.S. Boxing National Championships.
"There's a lot of pressure honestly, there's a lot of pressure because I haven't fought in over a year. All my teammates that I've made in Team USA have all told me the same thing. The first time I got in the ring it wasn't the same. I had to get that ring rust off, I had to work on my basics again," says Luis.
Happy to just be getting back in the ring, whether or not Luis is fighting for medals in the near future, he'll always be thankful for the coach and the sport that showed him he could be more than he ever imagined.
"I got to be apart of something bigger than myself, I got to meet people that I never thought I'd meet. I now have friends that don't live in the same city, let alone the same state as I do. It did change my life for the better and made me into the person I am today," says Luis.