My earliest memories were the Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield ear situation, and I’ve seen Lenox Lewis box a couple of times on PPV at my dad’s friends’ house in my earlier youth. So this interview might be a little different from the norm. But being different from the norm is the norm here at Mishka, correct? Is that grammatically correct? I’m not sure, but Zachary “ZUNGRY” Ochoa is an undefeated, young, up and coming talent who’s already fought on HBO, and he’s not even of legal drinking age. This is rare. This is very rare. We’re witnessing the rise of a one of New York City’s brightest stars in combat sports. It’s only right we showed you a day in the life of the champ, in which like any normal day he’s rocking our newest Holiday season gear. Like Mishka, he’s from the heart of Williamsburg and we thought you guys might appreciate a couple of the questions we asked him. And if you don’t appreciate it that’s okay, just act like you do.
Ilyas: Let’s start out with you telling the world a little bit about yourself.
Ochoa: I’m an undefeated professional boxer from Brooklyn, New York. I’m 5’10 145lbs. Puerto Rican but the last name; Ochoa, comes from Spain. I love to have fun the right way, laughing all day. Serious when I need to be. I have big things going for me and it is just the beginning. I never smoke, never drank and never will. I believe we can have fun without anything in me. No tattoos, I have to stay marketable. I believe everyone is beautiful in some way. I’m so kind hearted but will not care about what anyone thinks. I’m the sweetest asshole you’ll ever meet. You can talk to me about anything, I been through so much that I will listen because I always wanted people to listen to me.
Ilyas: How great it would be if some MMA fighters followed the “no tattoos” credo. What was your childhood like growing up in the Southside? You saw Williamsburg before the gentrification process, how do you feel about the neighborhood from then to now?
Ochoa: My childhood in the South Side was really rough growing up, it wasn’t easy. I had to really earn my respect in the streets by fighting & doing bad things. The South Side was a really dangerous place but I’ve always loved it and still do because it’s where I am from. The change I’ve seen in the recent years has been amazing, I think change is good. The area is much safer, the environment is much cleaner and I believe that this is a great way for all the kids to grow up.
Ilyas: Were you a boxing fan prior to stepping into a gym? What are some of your earliest and fondest memories of matches or boxers?
Ochoa: I’ve always been a boxing fan since I was young. My funniest memory actually is when I was 10 years old I use to put ice in my mouth and keep it there as long as I can because I use to think the clear mouthpiece on TV was ice.
I also remember when Oscar De La Hoya fought Felix Trinidad, the whole South Side was going crazy! It was one of the biggest Latino fights in history.
Ilyas: I remember the buzz for that. So did you get into a lot of fights growing up? I understand your father showed you how to throw a punch at age ten, but your mother put in a gym at age thirteen. What do you think her intentions were at the time for you? And were you hooked right away?
Ochoa: I’ve gotten into over 100 street fights and these weren’t any kiddy fights, these were real violent events and I believe no kid should grow up like that. But things happen in life that makes us much stronger people. My mom’s intentions of putting me into an actual gym were to keep me from the streets and keep me from ruining my life with trouble. As soon as I stepped into the gym I knew this was my life I got hooked immediately.
Ilyas: I know you abstain from drug and alcohol use. I’m straight edge, which means I live by those same morals, but for me it comes from a place of security. I used to drink and I used to be into all of that, but I realized it wasn’t how I wanted to live anymore. How about you? Why the choice? Strictly athletic reasoning or is it more personal decision?
Ochoa: The reason I keep myself away from drugs and alcohol is because, WHAT’S THE REASON FOR IT?! I’ve seen too many people in my life and around the community die, suffer and ruin their lives because of that. Also I love my body, my body is a temple of the Lord and I want to keep it that way. Staying healthy is one of the biggest advantages I have in boxing.
Ilyas: With that being said, what’s your diet like and how important is it to you and your training? You seem to train non stop, so am I wrong to assume that cutting weight isn’t that big of an issue for you?
Ochoa: My diet is mainly eating well cooked meals, all natural, nothing fast food or artificial. And of course you are not wrong about that, cutting weight is so easy for me because I’m always in the gym working hard and I never let myself pass my limit in weight.
Ilyas: Lots of athletes or just people our age in general are heavy into partying and alcohol. Do you feel that this lifestyle choice, choosing not to partake in that, sometimes alienates you from other people, especially people our age?
Ochoa: I don’t really feel that me not partaking in alcohol or crazy partying alienates me at all. With my style and personality anyone that is hanging with me anywhere is going to have a good time, drug free! That’s just me, I believe in having a good time without any drug or influences in between.
Ilyas: Speaking of people in our age group, I think its safe to say that a majority of people our age that are in school are earning degrees and learning about stuff they don’t really want to learn about, and then going out and getting crappy jobs because they weren’t passionate enough in their own field to begin with. A lot of it stems from pleasing their families and/or fear of failure.
What about you? Are you in school? Is your family supportive?
Ochoa: I am not in school; I got accepted to every college I applied for. But I had to put that to the side and put my all into my dream which is boxing. My family supports me to the fullest in that and anything else I do. I do study behind closed doors at home to keep myself educated.
Ilyas: Where do you see yourself in the future? Let’s say five years from now. I know you’re gunning for that championship, but walk someone who doesn’t keep up with boxing through the scheme of things.
Ochoa: In five years I see myself on top of the boxing world Lord willing, with hard work, prayers and belief.
Ilyas: Outside of boxing, what goes on in the daily life of a young ZUNGRY Ochoa? Aside from being a loyal fan of the brand, what else are you into?
Ochoa: Nothing too out of the ordinary. Just being with my family & friends, enjoying life. That’s enough for me.
Ilyas: If we were to jack your ipod and play it in the Mishka office, what should we expect to hear a lot of? Jedi Mind Tricks is great boxing music I always felt. Vinnie Paz (MC of Jedi Mind Tricks) is a huge boxing fan.
Ochoa: A lot of Kanye West, BIGGIE! Jay-Z, Meek Millz, NWA, and the Beastie Boys!
Ilyas: “No Sleep Til Brooklyn”, I see you. It seems as though Bernard Hopkins and Oscar De La Hoya are familiar with you. Is the boxing community in NYC small enough where talent begins to get talked about early on, and do you believe the fact that you are so young has something to do with your buzz? How do you feel about 50 Cent’s recent involvement with the sport?
Ochoa: The NYC boxing community is big but small enough for word to be spread around very fast. But when talking about the greats such as Bernard Hopkins and Oscar De La Hoya you have to have something really, really special to have them know who you are and say good things about you, and that’s something I got and worked hard for and still do. 50 cent is a really cool dude and he has the business mind to get into anything he wants, boxing is a hard sport to learn but I wish him nothing but the best. Big opportunities for boxers in N.Y.
Ochoa: I was excited to be on an HBO card! I was ready, I’ve always been ready. I was so happy to be there but then again I wasn’t surprised because I knew I would be there someday and look I was. I have big plans!
Ilyas: Alright, as I said early on, I don’t know much about boxing. My girlfriend’s father boxed in his early years, and can still knock dudes out. He can also do walking handstands. I’m not sure what relevance that has here, but much respect to that guy, he’s a small Puerto Rican dude with heavy hands. Who are your top 5 boxers, and why?
Ochoa: My top five boxers that are active right now are Andre Ward, Floyd Mayweather, Sergio Martinez, Bernard Hopkins, and Marquez because they are all intelligent boxers!
Ilyas: 2012 was marked with many memories, and unfortunately a few tragedies. My girlfriend’s father, along with the entire combat sports community, was very hurt by the news of what happened with Hector Camacho. He was a troubled man, but from what I’ve read, he was always very generous and had heart of gold for those around him. If you’d like to share thoughts on it, feel free.
Ochoa: Camacho was one of the flyest Puerto Ricans in the boxing game.
Ilyas: Lastly, is there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to? Your coach, gym mates, your neighbor across the street? And what advice would you give to young people who are considering maybe getting into boxing?
Ochoa: Shout out to the city that runs everything, BROOKLYN! Also to you; Josh Elijah, Mr. Bad Man Shark Michael! Jude and Kevin over at 350 Broadway and Jason the best photographer!
As far as getting into boxing goes, live your life the way you want to but in a smart way and always believe in doing what you dream in life because it will or can change your life instantly just as boxing did mine.