WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Before making heads spin in the Olympic boxing world, Wichita’s Nico Hernandez showed a wealth of potential as a local prep wrestler. It’s something his coaches won’t soon forget.
While he’s a 108 pound Olympic flyweight, Hernandez’s punches leave a lasting impression.
But year’s before landing at the summer games in Rio, Hernandez stole the show as prep wrestler at Wichita North High.
“He came on a little bit later in high school, and he stepped on rich onto varsity right in the very beginning, and it was awesome because he didn’t back down from anybody,” said Jake Johnston, Wichita North High wrestling coach. “He started out as a first year wrestler taking on guys that are way better than him he would challenge every single one of them.”
Johnston says one match in particular stands out.
“I remember him taking down a state placer right off the bat one time, and that guy was shocked as hell,” said Johnston.
Boxing since the age of nine, it was virtually impossible to wear down Hernandez on the wrestling mat.
“When he came out, we knew he was a boxer first and foremost, and we were just trying to get him in a little better shape, challenge him a little differently,” added Johnston. “Boxing, you’re up on you feet the whole time, wrestling, you’re flying through the air, you’re on the mat etc. His dad and uncles put him through so many difficult workouts that honestly I couldn’t make him tired.”
Hernandez didn’t hesitate to take on his former high school wrestling coach leading up to the summer games.
“I may not be a wrestler no more, but I can still take down my coach,” said Hernandez.
Nico’s path to becoming an Olympic boxer reached a whole new level when he won the National Junior Olympics in 2011 and 2012. After capturing gold, he immediately set his sights on competing in Rio.
You can also watch a live stream of Nico’s match on Friday by clicking here.