MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Five nights a week inside a former South Side warehouse, Ian Amezqua Rodezno’s parents marvel at their son’s progression as a boxer.
“Nine years old, and you have that precision in your punches and your footwork? It’s just incredible to watch,” said Lilly Rodezno, Ian’s mother and volunteer social media director. “We didn’t think it was gonna blow up this way, you know?”
Ian laced up his first pair of gloves in 2020, when he accompanied his cousin to a beginner session at MKE Boxing Club. After just a year and a half, Ian shuffles his feet and throws punches like a ring veteran. He even speaks about the sport like a seasoned pro.
“You have to train hard and not miss days,” Ian said. “Train hard, give it your all every day, and don’t ever stop working.”
Rodezno and Miguel Amezqua, Ian’s father and coach, said they recognized their son’s potential after his very first bout. Since then, they have traveled across the country as their son climbed the youth boxing ranks.
“You would have never guessed your child would be reaching those heights in such a quick amount of time,” Amezqua said.
Amezqua said his son’s reputation now precedes him at weekend showcases. Many in the youth boxing world know Ian from a viral Instagram clip reposted by ESPN’s SportsCenter account, which has more than 8.5 million views.
Internet fame aside, Ian is the real deal inside the ring. The third grader is already running out of space to display all the medals, trophies and belts he’s collected through 26 bouts. He is most proud of the National Junior Olympics gold medal he earned in July. Four wins in four days in Wichita, Kan. qualified Ian for the USA Boxing National Championships, which will take place the first week of December in Lubbock, Texas.
Ian will turn 10 a week before nationals, making him the youngest competitor in his 60-pound weight class. But he and his parents won’t walk into the arena feeling like underdogs.
“Only you can limit yourself, you know?” Rodezno said. “He knows that, so as long as he keeps saying he wants to do this, we’re gonna back him all the way.”
It’s been less than two years since Ian first stepped into a ring. His career is just getting started, but he has already accomplished more than most amateur boxers twice his age. Ian hopes next month’s nationals are a preview of future gold medals and world titles.