Rising to the Top

Rising to the Top Photo
The district congratulates Connetquot High School junior Ralph Clemente for being declared champion at the National Junior Olympics Championship event recently held in Charleston, West Virginia.

No stranger to the sport of boxing, the 16-year-old had wanted to pick up the gloves since age 5. However, it wasn’t until he turned 13 that he first stepped into the ring and pursued his dream. Since his boxing career began, Ralph has been named a two-time Junior Olympic Metro champion, three-time New York State Champion and two-time National Finalist. Additionally, he is currently ranked as the number one boxer for his age and weight class in the country.

Rather than drawing inspiration from the top athletes throughout the world, Ralph looks up to boxers he knows personally and uses their robust work ethic to drive him toward success.

“I look at the people I’ve known, and seeing them work hard in the gym really drives me,” he said. “I see local boxers coming up and I know that they’re going to be great, so it’s an honor to train alongside them.”

In order to maintain his successful boxing career, Ralph knows that keeping up with his studies is just as important. There are some days, he says, that he’ll begin training at his gym immediately after school ends and stay there until as late as 11 p.m. before waking up at 6 a.m. the next day to repeat the cycle. He credits his training with trainers Dan Rhodes and Mike Murphy (pictured here) as an essential contribution to his recent successes in the ring.

“I do a lot of cardio, including sprinting and running on the tracks, and then I’ll go back to the gym for strength training regiments for an hour or two, practicing the same moves over and over until all of my techniques are second nature,” he said. “A lot of people think boxing is all about working out, but it’s really about mental technique.”

Ralph plans on competing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, from where he aspires to take home a gold medal for boxing.

“I want to put my name in the history books for boxing; I want to be remembered as one of the greats,” he said. “I’m working hard enough, and I know I’ll get there.”