Nicaraguan boxer Osmar Bravo was born amid whizzing bullets during the contra war in the 1980s, and now he trying to fight his way to glory in London by winning his country’s first Olympic medal.
“I was born among the bullets of war, with my mom running to take shelter in the woods. But the important thing is that I came through it OK and here I am, representing my country with pride. I’m going for a medal,” says the native of Muelle de los Bueyes, who won his Olympic debut fight on Monday night against Montenegro’s Bosko Draskovic.
“After that fight I think I have a possibility of winning a medal. No one is going to stop me. I am hungry, and a medal would be my reward for so much sacrifice,” Bravo said.
The 27-year-old boxer has become an overnight hero in his hometown and across Nicaragua. His July 30 victory over Draskovic was celebrated with fireworks and street cheers in Muelle de los Bueyes, a rural municipality in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS).
Bravo’s first Olympic win was so important to Nicaragua that the Sandinista government has already promised to give the cabinetmaker-turned-boxing-hero all the tools and equipment he needs for his humble furniture workshop back home, where he has been working since he was 7.
“I have the support of the government to train, I can’t fail,” Bravo said. “I am also going to do it for my son, who is two months old. He was born while I was at the pre-Olympic qualifiers in Río de Janeiro. Those were two great gifts I received: my son and the bronze medal in the pre-Olympic tournament. It was the first time a Nicaraguan boxer has classified for the Olympics.”
Bravo’s daily routine is strenuous, but he follows it rigorously. He wakes up early each morning to start the day with a 10-kilometer run before heading into the workshop to make furniture. In the afternoons, he goes to the gym to work out on an improvised punching bag—an old seat from a motorcycle that he stuffed with sawdust. Bravo develops muscle strength by lifting heavy logs and cutting down trees with a hatchet.
“My family suffers when I box, but they follow my fights and they get emotional when I win,” Bravo says. “They tell me that I am Nicaragua’s greatest hope for a medal, and that is a lot of responsibility.”
Bravo started boxing only four years ago with trainer Javier Medina.
“He is from a very humble family that lives in the mountains,” Says Medina of Bravo. “They barely have enough to live and have had to eat pigeons and alligators and whatever they find.”
Medina says he and Bravo have become best friends.
“Imagine, just two years ago when Bravo made the National Boxing Team his signature was a straight line. He didn’t know how to read or write, but he went to night school and learned,” his trainer said. “He has a tremendous amount of will.”
Bravo’s next fight will be Saturday night at 11 p.m. (GMT) against Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Gvozdyk. Nicaragua will be watching and cheering on its newest hero.
This article has been translated from Spanish and is reprinted by The Nicaragua Dispatch with expressed written permission from AFP