Dante Rivera knows he’s starting late as a boxer, but that doesn’t discourage him. The 24-year-old Mott Haven resident picked up the sport just two years ago, but he had wanted to fight for as long as he can remember, thanks to his gold medalist uncle.
“Due to my religious background I had growing up, under the roof of our parents, I wasn’t allowed to make that step to do it,” said Rivera. He finally got the chance when he moved out at age 20.
“I know I started late, so it’s a little extra grinding that I gotta do, but I don’t mind doing it.”
His lanky 6-foot-3-inch frame is reminiscent of his famous uncle, Mark Breland, a two-time welterweight world champion who won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Rivera used to train under Breland at the Bed Stuy Boxing Club in Brooklyn, but began training under Carlos Hernandez at SouthBoX Gym on Third Avenue after moving to Mott Haven a year ago.
He doesn’t see his uncle’s reputation as a burden.
“I would say it’s like an expectation that I want to live up to,” said Rivera.
He just obtained his “book,” or amateur license, and is hoping to have his first fight at this year’s Ring Masters Championships, which begin next month. If not, he’ll start at one of the smaller shows in the Bronx before working his way up.
When he’s not training, Rivera works as a maintenance worker at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. But if this boxing thing takes off, he said, who knows?
“I’m trying to do something that, even if it’s hard work, it’s something that I actually enjoy.”