Growing up in the Olneyville section of Providence, Victor Reynoso saw it all from drug addicts on the streets to homeless people begging for change along his bus route to school.
The conditions weren’t always ideal — Reynoso lived with his mother and two siblings in low-income housing — but they prepared him for life as he knows it, a life where Reynoso has had to earn every penny the hard way, battling through adversity to live out his dreams in the boxing ring.
On Friday night at Twin River Casino Hotel, Reynoso makes his long-awaited professional debut against Maurilio Alava of Ecuador on the undercard of CES Boxing’s latest installment of the 2018 Twin River Fight Series.
The 24-year-old native of the Dominican Republic fought on and off as an amateur as he balanced boxing with his full-time job as a therapeutic safety technician, but is finally ready to make the leap after one final tour through the amateur circuit this past summer.
Outside the ring, Reynoso works at Bridgewater State Hospital, a facility housing the criminally insane, in a role he more or less describes as being a correctional officer. He’s put school on hold, temporarily leaving Rhode Island College to continue the chase in boxing, and will do whatever it takes to be the best 154-pounder in the world, a tireless pursuit that takes on a new meaning Friday.
“I understand school is something I could always finish later on. Boxing, you can’t box later on. This is right now,” Reynoso said.
“If I want to chase my dream, I’ve really got to do it now, while I can, not later. It won’t be an option later. I don’t want to get to that age and be like, ‘Wow, I should’ve tried this.’ I didn’t want to be one of those people.”
Trained by Roland Estrada at the Big Six Boxing Academy in Providence, Reynoso enjoyed a successful amateur career in which he won the Junior Olympics in 2009, earned three Southern New England Golden Gloves titles and competed in U.S. Olympic Qualifiers in 2012 and 2018.
Inspired by his grandfather, who was a Colonel back home in the Dominican Republic, Reynoso began working at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls when he was 19, which he later parlayed into a job at Southcoast Behavioral Health Hospital in North Dartmouth before moving to Bridgewater. Boxing, however, was always his top choice, so he continued fighting on and off as an amateur while studying sociology at RIC. Though he never graduated, he earned 66 credits, which is more than the number of credits required to earn an associate degree.
Even after taking two years off, and, according to Reynoso, gaining the dreaded “freshman 15” while attending RIC, he worked himself back into shape and returned to boxing in 2014, dropping close to 40 pounds in a four-week span to prepare for his comeback fight.
The delicate balance between school, boxing and work has always pulled Reynoso in different directions, but he understands the time is now if he’s going to make something of himself in the ring.
Twenty-four is considered a late start by some standards, especially since he was 15 when he won his first amateur title, but it gives him just enough time to implement his 10-year plan. Then, he joked, if the Rhode Island State Police are still looking for “34-year-olds in great shape,” he could chase his other dream job of becoming a state trooper. Only time will tell.
“I’m taking a leap of faith,” he said.
The unconventional path has always been Reynoso’s preferred road of travel. He and his family moved to the United States when Reynoso was five. There were times when they didn’t have enough money for food and other amenities, so his middle school would send him home with groceries each week to help support he and his siblings.
Times were tough, but the family always had help. His boxing coach at the community center where he trained would never charge him a membership, and his school even gave him Christmas presents in years in which his mother didn’t have enough money during the holidays.
“It had a big effect on my life and who I was going to be. I want to be able to give back to my environment just like they gave to me as a kid,” Reynoso said. “I can relate to a lot of kids who aren’t as fortunate enough to have many things.”
He envisions one day opening his own non-profit center similar to where he trained as a youth with the idea of providing boxing as an outlet to keep kids off the streets out of the detention centers where he works today. Though he’s seen things on the job he’d rather forget, Reynoso cherishes every experience. In a field where he’s taught to deescalate certain situations, Reynoso has found a way to connect with the patients at Bridgewater — and the other facilities where he’s worked — based on his own upbringing.
“I grew up in Providence, so I kind of know how to deal with a lot of people, different types of characteristics,” he said. “Whether aggressive, violent, at the end of the day, they just want to be respected.”
Now Reynoso continues his quest for respect in a sport where it’s most certainly earned, not given. To achieve his dreams of helping those within his community and perhaps even providing for his family back home in the Dominican Republic, boxing may be his best chance to strike it rich. He hasn’t seen his father in a decade, but keeps in touch with him regularly and sends him clips of his amateur fights. His mother, not the biggest fan of his career in the ring, continues to support in other ways.
Reynoso’s intelligence and tireless work ethic will carry him a long way once his boxing career ends, but for now the focus is on making the most of that 10-year window. The talent is there. Reynoso has an accomplished amateur background and is a tall, imposing figure in the ring, a lean, 154 pounds of pure muscle intent on making an immediate splash beginning Friday.
He has the Estradas, both Roland, his head trainer, and Roland’s son, Jason Estrada, the former U.S. Olympian and CES Boxing icon, in his ear constantly, teaching him what it takes to be a professional both in and out of the ring. He has a promoter, too, with CES Boxing president Jimmy Burchfield Sr. recently signing Reynoso to a long-term promotional contract, overwhelmed by Reynoso’s immense talent and humility.
The timing couldn’t be better as Rhode Island’s newest prospect prepares to take the next step. The road less traveled may soon become his path to success.
“I feel very proud and accomplished,” Reynoso said. “I understand it’s been a long road and I understand this is really just the beginning of my professional career and that this is the start. I’ve been through a lot of ups and downs and I’m pretty excited to be a part of CES and to put on for CES.
“They definitely believe in me and I believe in myself. I’ve always believed in myself. I’ll just look to be able to represent the Estradas, Big Six, and CES at the highest level I can.”
Tickets for Friday’s event start at $47 and are available online at www.cesboxing.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-723-2253 or at the Twin River Casino Hotel Players Club. All fights and fighters subject to change.
The main even features an eight-round title fight between reigning Universal Boxing Federation (UBF) All America Super Lightweight Champion Nick DeLomba (13-2, 3 KOs) of Cranston, R.I., and challenger Chris Singleton (18-5-2, 8 KOs) of Baton Rouge, La.
Sept. 14thalso features the return of unbeaten prospects Anthony Marsella Jr. (9-0, 4 KOs) of Providence and Pawtucket, R.I., featherweight Ricky Delossantos (5-0, 1 KO). Marsella Jr. faces Maine’s Brandon Berry (13-3-2, 8 KOs) in a six-round super lightweight showcase while Delossantos steps up in a six-round bout to face the dangerous Jose Ortiz (3-3-2, 1 KO) of Jersey City, N.J.
Also in the featherweight division, Providence’s Phil Dudley (1-1) returns to face unbeaten Ranse Andino (1-0) of Worcester and Fall River, Mass., super lightweight Kris Jacobs makes his professional debut in a four-round bout against the entertaining Andy Aiello (1-1) of Bridgewater, Mass.
CES Boxing will also introduce four of its highly-touted prospects on the 14th, starting with 6-foot-8 Nigerian heavyweight Raphael Akpejiori, a former college football and basketball for the University of Miami now trained by two-time world champion Glen Johnson. Akpejiori faces Texas veteran Omar Acosta (1-1, 1 KO) in a four-round bout.
Female lightweight sensation Shayna Foppiano (1-0, 1 KO) of Everett, Mass., makes her Twin River against Sarah Click (0-1) of Buzzard’s Bay, also fighting for CES Boxing for the first time after stepping into the cage with CES MMA in 2017.
Amateur standout Nicholas Briggs of Worcester, who now lives and trains in Rhode Island, makes his professional debut against fellow newcomer Jacob Wright of Decatur, Ala. The 6-foot-1 Briggs won 50 fights as an amateur. Also debuting is Fall River, Mass., junior welterweight Kris Jacobs, who battles Andy Aiello (1-1) of nearby Bridgewater