Weslaco middle school student turning heads in the boxing world

WESLACO — Emmet Villalpando, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Cuellar Middle School in Weslaco, first got interested in boxing about two years ago after watching Muhammad Ali’s classic bouts replayed on television.

“I would see Ali and others like him fight on TV with my dad and I was fascinated by them,” Emmet said. “I wanted to be like them.”

With three championship belts to his name, including a Ringside World Title that he won just last month in Independence, Missouri, and two that he earned at the South Texas Junior Olympics in April, Emmet is well on his way to possibly become a legend like the fighters he idolizes.

“He really loves everything about boxing,” Emmet’s father Albert Villalpando said of his son. “He even loves to train.”

Indeed he does.

Albert said Emmet trains Mondays though Saturdays — in and out of the gym — taking only Sundays off.

“In addition to working out in the gym, he runs around two miles every day and on Saturdays he works on strengthening his core,” Albert said.

And now that school’s back in session, he naturally has to balance his schoolwork with all his training.

“Homework always comes first, but once I do it I get back to training,” Emmet said. “It’s not easy balancing everything, but I do it. You just can’t mess around.”

Emmet trains at Barrientes Boxing Gym in Weslaco and is currently working hard preparing for the Silver Gloves Tournament in McKinney this December.

“Before that, however, he’ll fight in an event in Mercedes scheduled for September,” Albert said. “He loves to fight so he’ll be ready for both bouts and all the others to come.”