As he threw punches at the heavy bag, Christian thought about how lucky he was to find boxing - and how close he had been to becoming another statistic. Christian Otero, who started boxing at the age of 17, is now a 26-year-old upcoming professional boxer from Harlem, New York. It wasn’t always his plan to box professionally. As a troubled young teen, boxing was Christian’s way of escaping reality. “It’s therapy for me, man. For me: no boxing, no life.” 

Christian didn’t exactly have the ideal childhood. With his mother going through mental health complications, his older brother getting in trouble all the time, and his father in jail, Christian had to figure out life on his own. “I didn’t really have an older individual to be able to grab me by the hand, take me to any programs or sign me up for anything. I made sure I was getting and putting myself in the right situations all the time.” At the age of 13, Christian was already “running the street,” not doing well in school, and, around the age of 14, he was kicked out of his home and was in and out of juvenile detention. It was only when he turned 17 that he discovered his true passion. “Boxing saved my life, but I saved my life also by the decisions I made.”  Since then, Christian has been in and out of the gym instead of juvie or jail and staying out of trouble.

Christian getting ready to do his daily workout routine at Southbox Gym. April 2021.

Christian wrapping his hands before heading over to a punching bag. Bronx, NY. April 2021.

Christian wrapping his hands before heading over to a punching bag. Bronx, NY. April 2021.

After 101 amateur fights, Christian was supposed to make his professional debut in April of 2020, but the pandemic delayed it to a later date. Most people would’ve been discouraged by this, but not Christian. He viewed COVID-19 as a blessing instead of a delay in his life.

Christian punches a heavy boxing bag. Bronx, NY. April 2021.

Christian works on his uppercut skills on a Double End bag. Bronx, NY. April 2021.

Christian improves his footwork skills in the ring. Bronx, NY. April 2021.

Christian has always had the mentality that only he could help himself because, growing up, nobody else had. With all gyms closed, in order to continue his training he improvised by working out in his apartment and in local parks. He listened to boxing podcasts and studied them to learn how to better market himself as a fighter. He also networked with managers and coaches that could help him improve his skills. “I stood determined, because at the end of the day nobody is going to get in that ring for me.” 

Christian training a new boxer from the community. Bronx, NY. April 2021.

Christian takes a pause from training to reflect. Bronx, NY. April 2021.

Christian observes himself in the mirror. Bronx, NY. April  2021.

Closeup of Christian’s tattoo of his boxing nickname. Bronx, NY. June 2021.

Now, Christian, who goes by the name Veneno in the boxing world, has an outstanding record of three wins--two coming by way of knockout--and zero defeats. “Like Mayweather says, sometimes you have to separate yourself so you can become big.” Christian’s goal is to become a multiweight champion, and once that is accomplished he wants to give back to his community that shaped him.

Christian poses for a photo outside of Southbox Gym. Bronx, NY. June 2021.

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