New Hope pro boxer Alejandro Jimenez fights for DREAMers
Alejandro Jimenez came to the United States from Mexico at 15 years old. Now, every time he steps in the ring, he fights for those who are facing similar battles.
Coming to the United States can be a daunting task, especially if you aren’t yet 18 years of age or if you’re coming alone.
This was the situation Alejandro Jimenez found himself in.
In 2007, Jimenez moved to Lambertville, New Jersey from his homeland of Oaxaca, Mexico, in search of a better life. Just 15 years old at the time, and knowing just one familiar face, Jimenez had to navigate how to enroll in a high school, find a job, and simply figure out how to go about achieving a better life.
Soon after arriving, Jimenez found a job at a restaurant, where he worked as a cook.
Nearby was a boxing gym. There, he approached Mark Roxey, a long-time fighter and trainer.
During an interview with AL DÍA, Roxey detailed the first time he met Jimenez.
“He came to the boxing gym when he was just about 15, 16 years old, and he asked if he could join in, and he wanted someone to train him,” he recalled.
“I said, ‘I will train you, but you’re gonna have to pay me. And not only are you gonna have to pay me, but you’re gonna have to come five days a week if you want me to train you,’” he continued.
Roxey thought there was no way Jimenez would come back. However, not only did Jimenez come back, he paid Roxey and continued coming to the gym five days a week.
Seeing that level of commitment and determination soon led to a close friendship between the two that has seen Roxey help Jimenez fight in more than 60 local amateur fights, and go undefeated in four professional matches to date.
“He’s the hardest working kid in the world, and everybody wants to root for this kid to win. He’s amazing,” said Roxey.
Now a New Hope, Pennsylvania resident, Jimenez holds the distinction of being the first professional boxer to come out of the small town 30 miles north of Philadelphia. His next fight is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 8 against Edgar Joe Cortes (6-4), of Vineland, New Jersey.
As is the case with many professional fighters, Jimenez’s journey to the ring involved no shortcuts. However, his tough fights in the ring pale in comparison to the fights he has had to endure in his personal life.
Due to his immigration status, Jimenez wasn’t able to travel or advance in the boxing tournaments that led to national titles.
In 2012, a year after Jimenez arrived to New Hope, President Obama launched the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy, to allow those who migrated to the country as children, without documents, to apply to stay in the country legally.
With help from Roxey, Jimenez was eventually granted DACA status, a process that took about a year, they said.
“We’re very, very thankful and grateful to all of the people that are pro-DACA because Alejandro is like a living example of what—when you give young people an opportunity to succeed, when you put the tools in their hands to succeed—we can make great citizens and we can do something really, really special here in the United States of America,” said Roxey.
“That’s the story of DACA,” he added. “There’s so much going on about DACA and about all bad people who are fleeing to the U.S., but there are also great people like Mr. Jimenez, who are, not just living a daily, comfortable life, but trying to excel and help to add to the fabric of the American way of life. It’s our responsibility as Americans to make sure that these kids have an opportunity, just like everybody else’s kids.”
President Trump, on the other hand, has worked diligently to end DACA since being elected president. His actions and rhetoric have created a lot of fear and uncertainty for Jimenez and hundreds of thousands of other DACA recipients.
“When I heard that, I was really worried about it,” Jimenez said.
Trump has directed many of his negative, insulting comments toward Mexicans during both his campaign and presidency, as well, accusing them of bringing drugs into the country, committing crimes, and labeling them rapists.
Jimenez is adamant about proving those classifications false.
“We come in this country because we want a better life, better future,” said Jimenez. “This country has a lot of opportunity for us, that’s why we are here - to work hard. We’re not here because we want to do something bad to this country, or something.”
Roxey added: “I think when you have the discussion of DACA, and you have the discussion on immigrants, we have to not forget, this country was built on the backs of immigrants, and it continues to be built on the backs of immigrants. And we have an obligation to have the conversation in a way that doesn’t incite fear.”
When Jimenez steps into the ring later this week, he won’t simply be fighting the opponent standing across from him.
He’ll be fighting for his family back in Oaxaca. He’ll be fighting for his people in New Hope. He’ll be fighting for the Mexican community. He’ll be fighting for the other DREAMers who are hoping to live the American Dream in the U.S., as well.
“Every time I hear them say that I am the first professional boxer from New Hope, it makes me want to work harder,” said Jimenez. “I wanna show the other people that we can do it. I can do it…I want to become the first world champion from New Hope.”
As a piece of advice for others who may find themselves in similar circumstances, Jimenez said he would tell them to keep dreaming to get what they want, not give up, and live with the belief that anything can happen, and nothing is impossible.
“We want everybody that has a dream, or that understands Alex’s story to come on out and show their support, and be there, and cheer him on,” Roxey added.
“Because we realize we’re fighting not just for ourselves… we’re really fighting for anybody who has a dream, who has a dream for a better life here in the United States of America.”
The 'Philly Special' boxing card featuring Jimenez vs. Cortes will begin at 7:30 pm on Friday, Feb. 8 at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia.