Dawn brings rain in Buenos Aires. It is one of those days when tiredness and the dense traffic of the Argentine capital make you want to stay in bed and let the morning pass. However, curious and focused eyes welcome us as we enter the Brazilian National Boxing Team bus in front of their hotel during this training camp. Ahead of us is a 45-minute drive to the CENARD, the Argentine National Training Centre, and more than two hours of training with Patrick Lourenço.
At 1.64 metres, 49kg and with an angelic face, few would imagine that here is one of the best light flyweight boxers in the world and a favourite to win a medal at the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
But we only need five minutes to understand that appearances can be misleading. The intensity and elasticity of his movements along with the attention that the coaches give him leave no doubt. Patrick Lourenço is something special.
Destiny wrote that Patrick would have one of those childhoods that builds the personality, one that is all or nothing. Born in Morro do Vidigal favela in Rio de Janeiro, Patrick lost his father at only 3 years old. “My childhood wasn’t easy. The neighborhood wasn’t easy. The drug trafficking, the violence and the poverty were very present”, says Lourenço. Only very few people get over these kind of situations, but he had two big guides in early life.“My mother gave me a lot of help. She was always supporting me, leading and advising me. After I found boxing my life changed completely. When my friends were going out, I was going to the gym. Boxing saved my live”.
A smile crosses his face when he remembers his first steps in boxing. “My mother didn’t like the idea of me boxing. She thought that it was something violent. Imagine her face when I arrived home with my first bruise on the face…”, laughs the APB World number 6 boxer. “But when she understood that boxing was my passion, she changed and never stopped supporting me. Nowadays she is one of my biggest motivations. I box for her, I box for my family.”
After winning the Americas gold medal in 2013, Lourenço stepped into AIBA Pro Boxing at the age of 20. “APB is an amazing competition. The best boxers in the world are there and it is a continuous challenge in my career”, says the boxer from Vidigal.
But results didn’t come easily in early competitions. Two defeats against the Chinese Zhonglin Wu and three defeats to the AIBA World Champion Birzhan Zhakypov prove as much, But Patrick remains confident about his chances. “I think that I have had good bouts in APB, like the second one against Wu, where I was very close to doing it,” but he highlights the value of APB and its experience above all. “APB has made me a better boxer. Boxing eight rounds is very positive and tough. And I have also gained a lot of experience”.
His coach, Mateus Alves, is also happy with the boxer’s evolution.
“Patrick is very young. These last years, he has gained a lot of experience and he is getting closer to his best boxing. He is very technical and has good movement. I’m sure that he will make people talk.” And this is exactly one of Patrick’s objectives. “I want to become APB World Champion. I want this belt and I’m sure that I will bring it to Vidigal”.
The training in CENARD seems to be endless. Shadows, punching bag, physical work and now some mitt work boxing with Mateus. But Patrick remains focused on the work. One goal motivates him. The Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, his home city, and he will box in front of his family and friends.
“When I think that the Olympic Games will take place in my city, I can’t believe it. It looks like destiny. My mother, my wife, my friends… everybody will be there. I think that I am destined to win the gold medal. I’m convinced.” His eyes show that he isn’t lying.
With his quota already in the bag, the “Pride of Vidigal” is ready for one of the toughest rounds in his life. But he still has a secret weapon, an extra motivation. His first daughter will be born shortly before the Olympics begin and Lourenço wants to give her the Olympic gold medal as a perfect present.