Ralph Clemente trains for Tokyo

Passionate boxer second alternate in olympics


Ralph Clemente is an affable and humble young man with an avid passion for boxing. Born and raised in Ronkonkoma, Clemente is a Connetquot High School grad standing 5 feet, 11 inches and weighing in at 165 pounds in the middleweight class.

Twenty-year-old Clemente recently returned from the USA Boxing Nationals in Shreveport, La., and put up his dukes going on a long run in the tournament finishing to be the second to last man standing as the runner-up. Clemente is training to represent the USA in Tokyo for the Summer Olympics. He currently trains at Ludus Magnus on Route 112 in Patchogue.

Q: Growing up, who were your biggest supporters and influences?
You know, a lot when I was younger, I would look towards more people training around me. It wasn’t too much looking at the people who made it and the all-time greats. It was more me getting pushed by the people around me. Seeing Joe Smith Jr. just won a World Championship, I was in the gym alongside him. A lot of pros that come up and have pretty decent careers, just looking at them and their work ethic.

Q: Who from around here on Long Island helped inspire you regarding pro boxers from Long Island?
A: Joe Smith Jr. winning a World Championship. Personal people I know I trained with LeShawn Rodriguez and he’s 11-0 right now, with, I think, nine knockouts. Just seeing guys like that.

Q: How long have you been boxing for and what got you into the sport?
A: I started boxing when I was 12 years old. I wanted to box for a while before that. I wanted to start boxing when I was around 8, but my parents kept pushing it off. You know , they kind of were worried about me starting to box and when I was 12 years old, kids were picking on me in school and I started getting into fights out of school a little bit, and so I was like I might as well know what I’m doing and the second I started boxing, I fell in love with it.

Q.: What sports did you play at Connetquot?

A: I played a lot of sports. I played football, I wrestled, I played baseball, I played basketball around the street a lot. I loved every sport and I was always really involved with everything; it’s just that when I started boxing, I kind of had less and less time for other sports until this was the only thing I was doing.

Q: Do you have a favorite tournament or a favorite memory from a tournament that you’ve participated in your life?
I remember my first nationals that I won; it was six months after the first nationals I ever fought in and I ended up getting second. I lost to Diego Pacheco, who is 10-0 as a pro right now, and in the nationals that I won. I rematched him six months later and then I beat him in the semifinals. I actually broke his jaw. And then in the finals, I faced Darrelle Valsaint, who at the time I think was 50 something and 0, and I gave him his first loss and became the best boxer in America for the first time!

Q: Tell me about the experience in competing in the USA Boxing Nationals in which you recently returned from.
A: It was really different with COVID and all the regulations, but it’s always the same once you step in the ring. I’ve been going for a long time due to COVID and not being able to fight, so my last fight before that was a year and a half ago, but once I got back in there it felt like I never left and it was just awesome to be fighting again.

Q: I know you train every day. How many hours do you usually train for each night?
A: I get here around 5 or 6 and I leave around 9. So, three or four hours each night.

Q: Tell me what it’s like training for the Olympics.
A: You just have to make it a part of your life – which if you really love it, it shouldn’t be a hard thing. I never feel like if I’m not here [or] it’s a day off. No, I feel like I want to be in here every second. They kind of have to rip me out of here just for me to take a break for a week. (Laughs)

Q: Lastly, anything else you have to say about training for the Olympics and the USA Nationals? Any other final thoughts on that?
Yeah, it’s just a great experience. It makes your life feel like a movie sometimes and just to be working towards such a high goal, you just feel like a power pushing you. I just had my daughter 10 months ago and that feels like a whole other thing to keep pushing me to keep going strong and training more than I ever have now. So, it’s a great feeling, just feeling you’re working towards something, putting your print in the legacy books.


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