By: Jen Russon
Since he was eight years old, Ruben Soto has distinguished himself as an extraordinary athlete in boxing, winning both a Golden Gloves title and, eventually, the silver medal for the Florida state division in the 2018 National Junior Olympics.
Three years later, Soto is at it again, taking home the gold in Lubbock, Texas, where the 2021 games were held.
Ruben competed in the 95 pound Bantam category and won the gold medal for his state division level.
“We are very proud of him. He’s very dedicated and a humble, respectful son. He used to be number three in the nation for boxing in his division. Now he’s number one,” said Ruben’s mother, Betsy.
Ruben’s rank for his division in the Sunshine State is a culmination of 18 fights he participated in by the time he was in fourth grade.
Only eight when he discovered boxing, Ruben, now a sixth-grader at Renaissance Charter School, dropped all other sports in favor of a punching bag, dodging and weaving his way across the country in junior competitions.
“He practices every day when he finishes his homework,” said Betsy, adding that her son boxed his way through three days worth of matches in Texas to bring home the gold this summer.
The Soto family is so committed to helping Ruben practice, they still have a built-to-scale scale boxing ring in the backyard of their home in the Westwood community of Tamarac.
Betsy manages a McDonald’s, and Luis, Ruben’s dad, is a physical therapist and chiropractic technician. They have lived in Tamarac going on a decade after moving from Puerto Rico.
At the start of his training in 2018, Ruben was classified as pee wee competitor, placing at the prep nationals and youth open in West Virginia — an expense his family was able to meet, partly through donations.
Ruben’s father, Luis, said the young athlete has also competed closer to home in the Sugar Bert Boxing Championship in Orlando and added his son had gained over 30 pounds since his first wins in 2018.
“Everywhere we go, we represent Tamarac,” said Luis. “It makes me and his mom so proud.”
Ruben said he couldn’t ask for better parents, calling out his dad as his best motivator and favorite trainer.
“Thank you for pushing me every day to be the best, Dad. I appreciate all the hard work and time you take. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to look up to.”
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- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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