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Joey Quinones takes on role of coach, corner

| Friday, March 2, 2018

Senior captain Joey Quinones made the transition from mixed martial arts to boxing his freshman year, and as much as he enjoys the fighting, his proudest moments revolve around his coaching experience.

“I have been doing marital arts since I was 4,” Quinones said. “I thought it would be a smooth transition. I knew how to punch, basic technique. It gave me a couple weeks head start. Once again, with sparring, it’s a whole different ball game. Having someone else with you makes it a lot different. With more of a mixed martial arts background, bringing it down to just punches is different.”

Making it to the quarterfinals his freshman year, and to the semifinals both his sophomore and junior years, Quinones said he was surprised when he was announced as a captain.

“There are a few other guys in the club that just moved ahead farther in the tournament than I did,” Quinones said. “I thought, on paper, the other guys just have a better history with the club. I think it was more of a challenge for me. If I don’t feel like I am up for this, I have to be the most prepared person. I have to put in the time, I have to show them that they didn’t make a mistake with this. And I think my work with Baraka Bouts and with the other guys in the club — I don’t think I could have done any more.”

As a captain, Quinones put his time and effort into organizing spars and coaching other boxers outside the ring.

“One thing I did a lot last year, that I wasn’t able to do much this year but still love to do, is cornering for guys during spars,” Quinones said. “Just talking to them while doing it, coaching them through it, talking between rounds and telling them what they can improve on. Working with them outside of the ring to drill in those tips that would be helpful.”

Quinones’ first experience cornering was last year as a junior captain, and his proudest moment was sending a fighter to the Baraka Bouts finals.

“There was one girl I ended up working with throughout the whole semester,” Quinones said. “One of the first days, I knew her just through association of other people, and she asked if we could work together. We put in the time, and she won. That was probably the proudest I have ever been.”

In addition to fully committing himself to the fighting and coaching experience, Quinones has immersed himself into the charity aspect.

“‘Mrong’ is my nickname, and it’s a common last name in the village that we visited,” Quinones said. “During one of the village visits, my site partner was told he looked like he was related to one of them, and the kids gave him a last name and they told me they would give me one too. Every place we went, they thought it was so funny to say this is Joseph Mrong. … I felt very integrated into the community; they really welcomed us by doing that. They also appreciated that we took on that title and threw ourselves into it, attempting to speak the language with them, just trying our best there. The ISSLP isn’t made so we go there and save them. It’s about living with them, getting these stories and bringing them back and learning as much about the community there and knowing this mission is doing good things, but it can also do so much more.”

Quinones said while he is fighting to put on the best show and draw people to donate to provide an education to the children in Bangladesh, he wears wraps filled with signatures.

“I have wraps that have all the names of people that have helped me, trained with me and bought tickets,” Quinones said. “Signatures, messages from my parents. Some messages in Bengali. These are my tournament wraps that I started sophomore year. They remind me that it’s not just me in there, it’s all the support.”

Heading into the finals Friday, Quinones’ biggest supporter, his father, will be watching from the side of the ring.

“My dad came for semifinals and is staying for finals,” Quinones said. “He’s always been so supportive through martial arts and everything that I have done. He started martial arts when I started, and it’s something he just lived into. The first person I went up to when I was done with the last bout and after cornering for a few was my dad.”

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About Meagan Bens

Meagan is a junior Visual Communication Design major and Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy minor living in Lyons Hall. She serves as a sports writer and hails from the suburbs of Chicago.

Contact Meagan