Baseball to Boxing, How JoJo Diaz Made his Dream Come True?


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Latest Update / Feb 14,2021

Joseph Jr or “JoJo”-- that’s how he wants to be called— entered the world of his dreams pretty quickly. As he joined sports, the next year he got a position on the all-star team. And, this continued as he grew. By the time he reached middle school, he was a little bit good at everything— Left-handed pitching, playing outfield, and even a little bit of first base. 

Joseph "Jojo" Pedroza Diaz Jr. is an American professional boxer who was born on November 23, 1992. At a very early age, Jojo started with baseball which later turned into boxing. At a young age, Joseph Diaz Jr. began in the T-ball league. Like most other kids in the United States, his father Joseph Sr, wanted him to learn some basics like how to catch, hit & throw. He was just 4, when his father signed him up. With this happening in their life, Diaz Sr. started thinking of baseball as the best career prospect for his son. He thought it might earn him a scholarship for college. 

How did the Plan change from Baseball to Boxing?

 

For Diaz Sr., the plan was to get his son some scholarships for the college, but it changed eventually. It all started when the elder Diaz took him for the boxing classes when he was merely 8 years old. After three months Jojo was enrolled in taekwondo classes. A few years from here, the two decided to take up boxing again. It was when Diaz Sr. took the 10 years old JoJo to the South El Monte Teamsters Youth Boxing Club in California. Even at that movement, Diaz Sr. was not thinking more than about making his son learn how to protect himself, throw a punch & how to move on. Be it taekwondo or boxing, Diaz Sr. wanted his son to learn how to keep himself safe in school. So, that was how it was destined to happen! Jojo was unaware of how his life was moving in a different direction while he was trying to fight back a kid who was picking on him. 

Diaz Sr.says, "He ended up sparring a couple of kids, and one kid he sparred, he made him bleed and stuff like that. After that, he got hooked. It kind of backfired on me a little bit. I thought he would go in there and get beat up a little bit and not want to do this [too seriously] and just want to go in there and train. But he ended up making some kids bleed and beat some kids up."

Was it tough moving from baseball to Boxing? 

 

It was tough to understand & listen to the inner instinct right off the bat. Both of the sports were happening at the same time for Jojo. The accomplished boxer was also a baseball player. During the freshman year of his high school, he would leave baseball practices an hour before to continue his training in the boxing gym. As a sophomore, he was still playing baseball games. 

Soon after, Jojo started weighing in the best career option for a better future. While his dad thought that he might get some money for his college in baseball, but with a stature (under 5 feet), the possibilities looked a little sleek. On the other hand, he was already doing well in boxing and had the option to make it way better with weight classes and divisions. While it was tough to leave baseball behind all the time, boxing was taking up, but it was his love for the game that helped Jojo take a decision. 

What made Jojo follow a different path?

 

Joseph Diaz Sr. saw that JoJo's baseball skills could be a path to paying for his college, but JoJo followed a different path, he moved towards boxing. Then the baseball coach at South El Monte High, Gilbert Adame, says, "He came up to me and said, 'Hey, is it OK if I just go to the games and not go to practice? Because I'm a boxer.” But, Adame turned down his request because he thought it would be unfair to everyone else. And, as Adame turned down Jojo’s request, he asked him to make a choice between boxing & baseball. Jojo could not answer the question right away and he asked for a day's time to think about it. 

Diaz Sr. supported him completely and asked Jojo whatever he wanted to do. Jojo was an excellent baseball player but he was too small to become a baseball player. At that time he was about 4-foot-10 and no baseball player is that short. For all those successful baseball players, they have been pretty much bigger— so it looked like baseball could not be possible as a future career perspective for Jojo. It could have only gotten Jojo to win a scholarship to get his degree completed. 

On the other hand, boxing was like — with Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, and other players at that time who have been playing in different classes, Jojo envisioned a great & successful boxing career for himself. It was like he could play in different weight classes and still make good money he wanted for himself. So, he decided to go with boxing and told Adame about his decision. Adame says, "I never imagined somebody being on the Olympic team and becoming a professional someday. I didn't know he was that good. As I said, he made the right choice, because I don't think he would have gone that far in baseball."

Jojo’s Love for Baseball Remained Alive.

While he chose boxing, baseball always remained with Jojo even after his playing days were over. He was a big fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He would still catch up with friends and play baseball whenever he got time. His love for baseball was evident — once he spent thousands of dollars to just sit at Dodger Stadium during Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. However, the Dodgers lost the game to the Houston Astros. Baseball remained in Diaz's heart, even as his playing days ended. In addition to his short stature, another reason was his jacked elbow, which he can no more put straight. At the age of 14, Jojo started throwing and he got his elbow jacked up. Since he quit playing baseball, he never got the surgery done for that. But there are no regrets, he made the right decision at that time, he is already heading on the path to becoming one of the most successful boxing players. It all started with Jojo qualifying for the Olympics in London. And, like most other players, boxing did not come to Jojo from his family, it rather came from intimidation. As a kid, he was bullied for his short stature and that is when he decided to try going to a boxing gym and practice the sports. The intention was to protect himself from his fellow kids who were bullying him as he was little.