Plenty of boxers have the backing of their hometown fans, but none have the support of their city quite like Nico Hernandez.
Ever since Hernandez won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics and decided to turn professional, the city of Wichita, Kansas has done everything it can to give Hernandez the best possible chance to thrive. In December of 2017, the city gave Hernandez and his family the building they had been operating their boxing club out of for $1, ensuring Nico and would-be Nicos would always have a place to train. Wichita State University also awarded him a standing scholarship which he can use at any time.
“I didn’t know I had that kind of support until I came back from the Olympics,” said Hernandez. “Wichita hasn’t really been a big boxing market, but I see what Terence Crawford has been able to do there, and I’d love to have the same thing in Wichita.”
Hernandez is now 4-0 campaigning as a flyweight as a pro, with all four of his wins taking place at home in Wichita in front of crowds on average of 3,000 or more.
On Saturday night, Hernandez picked up his fourth win, a fifth round TKO win over late replacement Victor Torres. Hernandez was originally slated to face the 19-9 Jozsef Atjai, however due to inclement weather and other complications, Atjai was stranded at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, sleeping on the floor of the airport. As a result, Torres, who works night shifts for a demolition company in California, was contacted at 6:30 AM PST the day before the fight and made his way to Wichita.
“It was an electric night. Once again, Nico made the proper adjustment that can be credited to his amateur pedigree. In the amateurs, opponents often change at the last moment and Nico has overcome many obstacles during his boxing career,” said Hernandez’s promoter John Andersen of KO Night Boxing.
The obstacles Andersen speaks of are plentiful. Hernandez might be enjoying the charity of his hometown these days, but very little was handed to him in the past.
Hernandez grew up poor, and first learned to box in a home gym in his bedroom and used a set of makeshift strength and agility contraptions in his backyard made of wood. When the gym he and his father own burned down prior to his first professional boxing match, he returned to that same bedroom to prepare for his fight.
“I don’t wanna go back to the struggle. I remember what my parents went through….