From Alhambra to London and back: Olympic boxer Dominic Breazeale re-enters the ring

Alhambra's own Dominic Breazeale will be boxing in a 10-round bout Aug. 24 as an opener for the Abner Mares vs. Jhonny Gonzalez fight on Showtime Extreme. The Alhambra High School graduate fought in the 2012 Olympic Games, where he represented the United States as a heavyweight and was knocked out early by Russia's Magomed Omarov. We caught up with him before he headed to London in July 2012 to talk about how running down Moor Field as an AHS quarterback led to boxing in the Olympics.

This story is adapted from an earlier version in The Voice Community News and was originally published July 20, 2012.

The 6’7", 255 pound super heavyweight entered Burbank's Pullman's Gym, which was packed with boxers training. He took a seat next to the ring, smiled, and said in a calm voice: “Hello, I’m Dominic."

Breazeale's 2003 Alhambra High School pictureWhen the 2012 Olympics begin on July 27, Dominic Breazeale — a former Alhambra High School star quarterback — will be wearing red, white, and blue – and boxing gloves. On a recent morning, the 26-year-old father of two took a break from training to share how he went from a kid in Alhambra who loved football to boxing in London.

“I love Alhambra; it is my home, so many good memories," said Breazeale, who attended Northrop and Baldwin elementary schools. His passion for football began at local parks. At the age of 6, he played for his first team as part of the Alhambra Thunderbirds. He went on to star on the Alhambra High football team, where he was starting quarterback position and set records in both passing and touchdowns, a couple of which nearly a decade later remain untouched.

After graduating from Alhambra High in 2003, Breazeale attended Mt. San Antonio College and the University of Northern Colorado, where he played football and studied criminal justice. During his senior year, Breazeale was optimistic for what is known as “Pro Day,” when NFL scouts come out to the school and observe  players going through several routines.

Breazeale received a call, but not from an NFL scout. Instead, it was a local boxing recruiter out of Carson, CA, who was looking for talent on football fields. Breazeale was shocked. “No way, you’re crazy, I’m a quarterback, this is what I do,” he told the boxing recruiter. “I was waiting for that call, my dream was to become a NFL Quarterback.” 

But that call did not come, and he reconsidered the offer from Carson. “I had offers to play in Canada, but my dream was to play in the NFL,” Breazeale said. “A couple of months later, I called him back realizing that my football route has come to a close.” He returned to California for a weekend to try out a boxing workout in Carson. “After a couple of months, little by little boxing grew on me, and I was getting better and better at it." His first fight was in Venice beach; Breazeale won in 13 seconds. "I thought to myself: I may be able to do this,” he said.

Three years after Breazeale started training, he is now the number one ranked Amateur Super Heavyweight in the U.S. He is also married and a father of two young sons, a 4-year-old and a 4-month-old.

Breazeale earned a 2011 Golden Gloves championship and a 2012 national championship, and most recently qualified for a spot on the Olympic team in May after winning a 15-12 decision in Brazil.

Despite heading for the Olympics, Breazeale remains modest and surprised when asked for advice for youth. “I have never been asked that before, and had never considered myself as a role model, but I guess that has now changed,” he said. “I will do my best to be a positive role model, If you’re going to pick boxing or whatever it is your going after, you have to live that lifestyle, breath it, live it, be it, if you have your mind set on something stay focused and go for it.”

After winning the gold medal, his other goal is buying a home in Alhambra. “Right now I’m just a boy that grew up in Alhambra and cherish good memories growing up there with my brother and my two younger sisters,” he said. “When I get the opportunity to buy my home, it will be there, I want to raise my kids there.”

But before that, comes London. “For now I’m just another guy in the gym grinding it out with hard work and dedication,” he said, before heading to spar with his trainer. “I look forward to walking with my teammates into the opening ceremony representing the United States, I hear it’s the best part of the games. I also look forward to the Olympic Village camaraderie with fellow Olympians from around the world. Maybe then it will hit me that I have made it.”

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