With a high school diploma in hand last May, boxer Estevan Roman was soon faced with one of the most striking realities of life outside the structured confines of the school house.
Time: There isn’t enough of it, and once it’s gone you never get it back.
It’s been the challenge for Fort Worth’s prized pugilist pupil with the counter-punching prowess as he begins his pursuit for a second consecutive state Golden Gloves title.
It starts with the beginning of the regional tournament on Tuesday at the John Justin Arena on the grounds of the Will Rogers Memorial Center.
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All work at the AT&T warehouse in north Fort Worth means less and less time to spend with his love.
After all, you can’t box if you can’t eat.
“As soon as I got out of school my life changed,” said Roman, 19, a graduate of Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School, whose work day sometimes begins as early as 4 a.m. “I’m much more busy. I haven’t been able to get in the gym like last year.
“But my power and speed are still there. I’m still strong enough to win it.”
The regional tournament runs through Saturday. State is the next week, Feb. 26-March 1. Roman plans to be there to earn a return trip to the national tournament.
A year ago, the lefty conquered all comers in the 178-pound division.
In Salt Lake City, Roman advanced to the semifinals where he lost in a decision, one of six Texans to lose that day.
Roman, displaying the mentality of most boxers, believed “he did enough to win that fight.”
He acknowledges he got beat in the first round, apparently so significantly that he was unable to overcome the deficit.
“If I don’t give up the first round …,” Roman mused. “I learned I have to fight every round like it’s the last round.”
Roman is a heavier fighter this year.
He’ll compete in the 201-pound division.
Neither he nor his coach believe he’s an underdog at that weight.
Both said he will appear to have the agility of a flying squirrel to heavier fighters who are unaccustomed to his speed and quickness.
“I wouldn’t doubt his expertise, either,” said Joe Freitas, his coach. “He’s so smart. He knows how to outsmart a fighter. He’s a guy who knows how to take different angles. He’s a great talent.”
Roman, who along with Freitas joined the Reyes Boxing Club stable last year, has been sparring with UFC fighters, including Johnny Hendricks.
It’s a symbiotic relationship. Roman exposes the UFC fighters to a lefty and good quickness. The UFC fighters have whipped Roman into shape, the boxer said.
Despite not feeling at his best, Roman feels more pressure this year.
He wants to be the next great Fort Worth fighter, following in the image of Paulie Ayala, Sergio Reyes, Donald Curry and many, many more.
To even begin to legitimately think like that he knows he has to repeat and return to nationals, this year in Las Vegas.
“I want to represent my city and my state in nationals,” Roman said. “I want people to ask me where I’m from. I’m proud to say ‘Fort Worth.’
“I want to show them what Fort Worth is made of. And what Texas is made of.”
Roman also knows that to reach his goals in boxing, he needs a renewed dedication in the gym.
It’s not for a lack of vision.
Roman and Freitas will discuss his future options at the right time. Pursuing a spot in the Olympics is a possibility.
It’s all about time.
“I’m not going to give up on boxing,” Roman said. “This is my biggest dream. I want to be a champion and I know I am.”