While most recent high school graduates are spending their summer hanging out with friends or relaxing down the shore, Javier Guzman is hard at work.
The mixed martial arts competitor isn’t going on vacation. He’s not working on his tan or enjoying any parties.
Instead, he’s training … all day, every day, all summer long.
“If you want to win, you have to do all the extra stuff,” said Guzman, 18, a Northeast resident who trains at Philadelphia Fight Sports on Torresdale Avenue. “Winning is awesome, but any fighter will tell you, to live for that moment, it’s awesome but you don’t have a life.
“I’m only eighteen, and I don’t have a life,” he continued. “I’m always here or at the track running, and especially with school and everything, I don’t have a life. But it’s worth it because I love it. This is my passion. This is what I do.”
Guzman has undertaken mixed martial arts training since he was 4. He also is experienced in kickboxing and jiujitsu, and has two years of experience as a school wrestler in the Philadelphia Public League.
He’s currently 1-1-0 in his short-lived amateur career —which officially began eight weeks ago. He defeated Frank Doyle on April 22 during the Matrix Fights IV event, winning by submission just 1:55 into the first round. On June 2, the 5-foot-8, 155-pound fighter lost to Dustin Hurtgam by a unanimous decision.
Guzman is slated to face Patrick Macke during the main event of the Locked in Cage 8 event, scheduled for July 15.
“I got a title next month, so I have to train nonstop,” said Guzman. “It feels good, but it’s exhausting. Sometimes it’s tough, because I want to spend time with my friends and my family and my girlfriend, but I can’t. I have to be here training.
“If you train right and give it one-hundred percent here, it’s not even a fight out there. You go in there and you feel good,” he added. “But if you don’t train, it’ll be the worst couple of minutes of your life. It could either be heaven or hell in there, and it all depends on how you train.”
Although he officially has competed in only two amateur MMA fights, Guzman has more than a decade of experience. He is a two-time Golden Gloves champion and competed in the Junior Olympics.
He spent much of his career training with the Tiger Schulmann martial-arts school, but eight months ago he decided to team up with Philadelphia Fight Sports in Mayfair.
ldquo;I kind of hit a brick wall,” explained Guzman. “I don’t disrespect Tiger Schulmann in any way. It’s nothing against them. They taught me my roots and everything. But I like it here, too. We go hard here. We work on a lot of different things, and it’s intense.”
Guzman wrestled for Northeast High School’s varsity team as a freshman, but he transferred to George Washington High School during his junior year. He joined the Eagles’ wrestling squad that winter, then decided to concentrate solely on his MMA training throughout his senior year.
“Northeast was a little far. I live closer to Washington,” said Guzman, who lives off Knights Road in the Far Northeast. “I like it a lot there. I’m going to miss it. I’m really going to miss it. I’m kind of sad that it’s already time for graduation. I don’t want to leave. I’m going to miss everybody.”
Guzman plans to attend the Community College of Philadelphia’s Northeast campus for his freshman year, followed by a transfer to Temple University.
ldquo;I think financially it’ll be a lot easier,” he said of his plan. “I want to study physical therapy or business and finance to get into promotional stuff. I’m not exactly sure yet, so CCP will give me a chance to figure it out.”
Regardless of the career path he pursues in the classroom, Guzman is certain of his athletic goals.
“I want to get in as many fights as I can and jump to pro. I’m not in a huge rush to go pro, but I want to get in as many fights as I can and rack up as many titles as I can,” Guzman said. “I’m definitely not the best right now. I still have a lot of work to do. Eventually, though, I know I’ll be the best out there.” ••
Editor Melissa Yerkov can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org