SANTA MARIA, Calif. - 19-year-old boxer Carlos Balderas' Olympic journey in Brazil has been nothing short of an inspiration for his hometown crowd of Santa Maria and the rest of the Central Coast.
Dozens of Balderas supporters and friends came together Friday morning at the Abel Maldonado Center in Santa Maria to cheer him on as his valiant Olympic fight came to an end.
The Santa Maria native fought for a third time at the Rio Olympics on Friday, but this time he lost by decision in the lightweight quarter finals to his opponent, Lazaro Alvarez from Cuba.
"It's a legacy that he is leaving behind not only in boxing but in life and he is an inspiration for all," said Angel, one Balderas' supporters.
Supporters say this loss is just a bump on the road.
"There are no losers in this game you're a winner what you accomplished it has never been accomplished here in Santa Maria as a boxer," said Carlos Ruiz, a supporter.
Ruiz says today Balderas serves as an inspiration for the next generation of boxers. "I got this young man here, he was bugging me at 7 a.m., pick me up, pick me up, I want to watch Carlos fight," Ruiz added.
Angel Rodriguez says he admires Balderas' humble beginnings. "You hear the story of the Balderas family, immigrant family, his uncle a teacher then a boxing coach then you see what Carlos has done as a first generation," he said.
Supporters say what Balderas is doing by being at the Olympics shows people back home in Santa Maria that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to.
"He's motivating the youth of SM and the whole central coast so for me he deserves a hero's welcome when he returns," said Rudy, another supporter.
That's exactly what's going to happen. They're going to welcome him home with a big celebration to let Balderas know how proud they all are of him.
EDITOR'S NOTE: While Mr. Ruiz told KCOY 12 he trained Carlos Balderas at a young age, Banderas' father tells us that simply isn't true and that Mr. Ruiz has never trained Carlos in any way shape or form, rather, Balderas' father and brothers have helped with Carlos' training. We will continue to follow the story of Carlos' Olympics journey with updates.