During a City Hall Meeting in Camden, earlier this month 22-year-old Vidal Rivera received a standing ovation as he walked timidly to the podium with his mother by his side.
Rivera was introduced as “The Pride of Camden,” a name that introduces him in and out of the ring, fitting for a devoted Camden resident.
City councilmen informed the crowd of approximately 30 people of Rivera’s recent victories and his outstanding involvement in the community. As Rivera reached the front of the huge city hall room he was handed an Achievement Award.
“I feel very honored to know I’m doing something good” said Rivera, a boxer from South Camden who won his first professional fight against Jose Garcia of York, Pa., after a two-minute and one second technical knockout on January 24.
Rivera is a 120-pound boxer who started his journey nine years ago in 2006. His amateur record is archived at 80 wins and 20 losses as he moves onto his professional career, but Rivera was not always so strong. “He was 98 pounds and couldn’t do a single push-up” said trainer Chris Williams during an interview with the Courier Post in February.
Rivera began training in North Camden after a family friend took him to a gym run by Rivera’s current trainer, Chris Williams. Rivera confesses “I was a little nervous.” His mother was as well, he explained. He said she was unenthusiastic and slightly reluctant about him training in North Camden at first, but by the end of the summer she came around to the idea.
Boxing is what Rivera is looking to do long term and would like to make full time, but he is set with a plan B. Working as a crime analyst for the Camden County Metro Police Department, Rivera’s only complaint; “I don’t like the sitting down part” he laughs. He also volunteers at the Camden Children’s Garden on Sundays specializing in carpentry work, which he studied at Camden County Technical School.
When asked what advice he would give to other kids in Camden searching for success, Rivera said, “Stay positive, you will always have tough days; tough people last, tough days don’t.”