INTERVIEW – NICO HERNANDEZ – KEEPING IT KANSAS

The popular Kansas native is generating quite a buzz in the Middle American state of Kansas. Just 3 fights into his professional career, Nico Hernandez has accumulated a perfect record of 3-0, all in-front of a loyal and ever growing, vocal fan-base in his home state.

As Hernandez’ promoter, John Andersen of KO Night Boxing LLC looks set to be building on Nico’s encouraging following, by having him headline the 5,000 capacity Hartman Arena in Kansas on December 2nd. When I ask him; if he feels an importance to help build boxing in his home state? His answer is firm yet friendly, without ever elaborating too much.

“I’m working with my promoter and coaches on what will be next. I’m looking to bring fights to my home state (Kansas) and fight on big platforms in Las Vegas like MGM. I like being home and in the U.S. but I am even willing to fight overseas if needed.”

Hernandez having had a successful amateur career, culminating in bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Hernandez is well travelled at the highest level. Being the first Wichita Olympic medallist since 1984, Nico came home to a hero’s welcome. The City of Wichita held a reception party at the airport, followed by a parade though the city ending with a celebration at his high school where he received a four year scholarship at Wichita State University.

Although obviously woven into the fabric of Wichita, Hernandez is never content with his success to date and is clearly looking to progress and build on the early achievements. He is a fighter that looks set to do his talking inside rather outside of the ring, as he tells me,

“It felt good just knowing that I was one of the top athletes representing this country at the Olympics. It felt good winning a bronze medal but it would have felt better winning gold. I don’t really like all the attention outside the ring. I like attention for what I do in the boxing ring.”

Having been compared to building an atmosphere much like Terence Crawford has in Nebraska, the promotional capabilities of the 21 year old Hernandez have ambitious promise. Describing himself as “a switch hitter, brawler and a boxer, all at the same time.” You would say Hernandez is a real all action fighter with high-level technique and looks to have eradicated his tendency to start slow, being criticised at times in the amateur ranks for not being active enough at times.

Already having had competed at 3 different weights in his first 3 professional contests. The natural flyweight clearly didn’t see much drama at moving to any weight to get the right fight.

“I don’t plan to focus on what weight class I’m in. I would ratherfocus on doing what I can do to be my best. I’m just going with the flow.” Without an opponent named for December 2nd, Nico told me he is looking for “Someone who is going to fight back and be aggressive.” eager to progress his career.

Taking to the sport as an infant and coming from a boxing family. It was no surprise when Nico told me “My dad and my uncle, Michael, who was boxer when I was younger. Introduced me to boxing.”

Trained by his father Luis Hernandez, Nico continues “He (Luis Hernandez) was the one who made me go on practices and runs.  I have always been successful with him. There is no reason to change trainers now.”

Fighting live on CBS combined with his loyal fan-base and a crowd friendly all action style. It could propel Hernandez into the elite levels of the lower weight divisions in time. His own ambitions couldn’t be clearer as he answers my question; what is it he ultimately wants to achieve from boxing?

“Get out without any brain damage, win multiple world titles and be a world champion in different weight divisions!”

The likeable Kansas flyweight fighter who is influenced by “Andre Ward and Vasyl Lomachenko.” and inspired to fight for “Family and struggle.” is tipped to be mixing it with the best in the not too distant future. But in the meantime, he’ll be keeping it Kansas.

Written and Interviewed by Adam Noble-Forcey
@Adam4cSports