Former boxing champ ‘El Maestro Ojeda’ graduates from Army radiology program
SAN ANTONIO - Before he became a service member, Spc. Reynaldo Ojeda was a force in the boxing ring who dominated opponents and won titles during his 12-year boxing career.
Instead of preparing and training for fights, Ojeda is now focused on becoming a military radiologist after graduating from the Medical Education and Training Campus Radiology Program at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston April 26.
He will start the second phase of his radiology training at the San Antonio Military Medical Center, at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, in May.
Ojeda, 29, said he decided to join the Army a year ago because he wanted to pursue a career which provided more options for him, including opportunities to provide for his family and to help care for service members.
“I want to provide for my family,” Ojeda said. “I want to see the world and go to different countries.”
His family includes his wife, Taymara, and a 3-year-old daughter.
Ojeda started his boxing career as an amateur in his native Puerto Rico at the age of 15. After five years fighting as an amateur, he became a professional boxer in 2009. During his professional career, Ojeda went 18-0 in fights he competed in, nine of which he won by knockout, while winning three boxing titles.
He earned the nickname of “El Maestro (The Master) Ojeda” because he taught math at a public high school for one year in Puerto Rico during part of his boxing career.
Ojeda had considered enlisting in the Army after he graduated from high school in his hometown of Canovanas, Puerto Rico, but decided to continue his boxing career. During that time, he also went to college, earning a bachelor’s degree in math from the University of Turabo, located in Gurabo, Puerto Rico.
He won his first title the same month he graduated from college, the World Boxing Association Latin American featherweight title in 2013.
After college, Ojeda started his teaching career. His boxing career took off as he would win two additional titles over the next four years: the International Boxing Association Latino lightweight title in 2014 and the North American Boxing Association (NABA) lightweight title in 2015. NABA is affiliated with the World Boxing Association.
In addition, Ojeda was ranked ninth in the world by the World Boxing Association lightweight class in 2015.
Ojeda said his proudest moment in his boxing career came in May 2015 when the mayor of Canovanas put a big screen television in the middle of the city so the residents in his hometown could watch one of his matches, which was featured on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights.
He said having one of his fights televised fulfilled a dream he had since he was a child when he watched boxing matches on television.
“I did something I never thought I would do,” Ojeda said. “That made me feel good.”
Ojeda said what inspired him to fight was the support of his family, friends and neighbors in Canovanas, who would organize a party to see him fight on television. He said his father, who also was a boxer in his teen years, has never missed seeing one of Ojeda’s boxing matches.
Ojeda saw his boxing career as a way to inspire and set a good example to children in his hometown to set goals and follow their dreams.
“That gave me the motivation because when you fight just for money, it’s like that is your job,” he said. “But when you can do the sport for something more, you can love that.”
He came to San Antonio in March 2017 as a student at the Defense Language Institute English Language Center at JBSA-Lackland. When he completed his lessons there in August 2017, he then did his basic training at Fort Sill, Okla., before arriving at METC in October 2017.
Ojeda said the habits he learned and picked up during his boxing career have helped smooth his transition into the Army.
“When I came into the Army, the discipline wasn’t hard for me. That was my life for me because in the Army you need to wake up early to be on time for training,” he said. “The Army is not so different from boxing life.”
Ojeda’s goals are to do 20 years of service in the Army, to work in the military medical field and to become an officer.
He has not given up on his boxing career, though, as he plans to resume it next year after he has completed his radiology training.
“My goal is to make the U.S. Olympic team in 2024,” Ojeda said. “I know I can do it.”