The story of Will Velez

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Wilberto ‘Will’ Velez recalls growing up in the rough city of Newark, N.J. He was always hyper, yet this was before children were diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Two things helped settle Velez’s anxiety and gave him direction: his father’s understanding and boxing. As a youngster, Velez said he couldn’t sit still. His father, Domingo, owned a construction business in Newark and would take him to jobs and let him do small tasks.

I tell people the nails and hammers were my toys, claims Velez. Wanting to imitate his father, Velez created model houses and planes out of scrap wood. By age 9, his father had put him in a boxing program at the suggestion of a family friend. Velez said he enjoyed the one-on-one challenge. The daily routine of school, boxing gym, homework and sleep helped him stay out of trouble.

“It made a man out of me,” said Velez, whose father died in 2005 at age 57. “I don’t smoke. I don’t drink.” Velez turned pro at 27 and retired at 33 as a middleweight, with six wins and no losses. He did not have plans to make boxing a career, but instead wanted to accomplish a goal. Today, Velez is the owner of One Call Construction, Hurricane Boxing Gym, and Hurricane Ranch.