It’s been more than year since Tracy kick-boxer Juan Andrade has been in the ring making his way up the amateur ranks in what he hopes to become a professional career in the sport that continues to increase in popularity.
The long pause in competitive matches, however, will end March 14 when he will compete in an amateur kick-boxing tournament in Reno.
Juan has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, which emphasizes knee and elbow strikes.
“But I’ll fight an opponent with any style,” Juan said. “If I can get a boxing fight this weekend, a kick-boxing fight the next and then a Muay Thai fight, I’m good to go.”
To get ready to resume his kick-boxing career in the 145-155-pound Featherweight and Lightweight classes, he is training regularly at James Reed’s Martial Arts Center at 2243 N. MacArthur Drive.
Juan, who has just turned 22, works the night shift at the FedEx distribution center, and his workouts usually begin soon after he gets off work.
Reed, his coach, feels Juan displays the combination of talent, determination and commitment that will carry him up the amateur ladder into professional competition.
Juan said he started martial arts and kick-boxing training when he was about six years old, a year after his family moved to Tracy from Mexico.
“My mother tried to get me involved in some kind of sport, soccer and swimming, but nothing ever worked for me,” he recalled. “I walked into the gym one day and I saw the kids mixing it up, and that was it. That was for me.”
Reed said he spotted Juan immediately “as a talented kid” with unusual qualities when he started coming to the gym.
“Juan was committed to the sport. He’s got such a great work ethic, doing regular conditioning that allows him to concentrate on learning techniques.” Reed said. “I knew he was going to go places.”
He said Juan took a few years off from kick-boxing while he wrestled at Tracy High, and now he’s back to kick-boxing. “fine-tuning his mind, which already is great.”
Juan said he was competitive a handful of times when he was younger —at ages 14 one and 16 for a few fights.
“Then I started fighting consistently when I was 18,” he said. “By then, I had a job, my own money, my own car, a way to get places. “That’s what I’ve being doing ever since and that’s all I want to do in the future.”
He plans working his way up the amateur ranks of the International Kick-Boxing Federation, “wipe everyone out” and then start working up the professional ranks. He estimates it will take another year or two as amateur until he can make his way into professional competition.
“So far, I have had only a few minor injuries,” Juan reported. “The way that I fight — constantly moving and and fending off and dodging attacks, I don’t suffer many heavy blows.”
At Reno on March 14, he doesn’t know who his opponent will be.
“It doesn’t matter who it will be,” Juan added. “I can fight an opponent who comes at me in any style. It’s still combat. Still chaos. You really have to stay focused.”
He said before a bout, he and Reed try to figure out
what an opponent can do, and can’t do.
“We usually have a pretty good plan.” Juan said. “I’ve known my coach for so many years. We can adjust on the fly to almost anyone.”
I asked Juan what was more important to his success in kick-boxing, his arms or his legs.
“My head,” he answered. He’ll know more how well his mind is working to guide his performance March 14 in Reno.
Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at email@example.com.