Following his graduation from Chelsea High School he took up boxing – and over the next two decades of his life, John Ruiz was able to fight and to claw his way to the top of professional boxing.
He became boxing’s heavyweight champion of the world.
He stepped into the ring to battle boxing giants.
Three times he fought with the legendary heavyweight Evander Holyfield, who some rank with Mohammed Ali as one of the finest heavyweight champions to have ever entered the ring.
He also fought Hasim Rahman and Tony Tucker and many contenders for the crown during a career that lasted 18 years.
Now that career is at an end.
Earlier this week, Johnny Ruiz said he was done with the ring.
He announced his retirement.
“It is time to start a new chapter in my life,” Ruiz told former Chelsea Record reporter Bob Treiger.
“I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished with two world titles, 12 championship fights, and being the first Latino heavyweight champion of the world,” he added.
He said he would be returning to his roots in Massachusetts.
He told Treiger he wanted to spend more time with his family.
Thus has ended a successful career that began here in Chelsea where Ruiz was one of the best known and most heavily followed modern athletes in the city’s history.
He was a day-to-day presence running the streets of the city conditioning himself preparing for his fights.
He held boxing clinics here and open training sessions at local gyms where he trained.
He coached little league.
He advocated for kids.
He stood as a giant in the community, which came to idolize him and to cheer and to follow his career.
When he was defeated by David Haye in Manchester, England three weeks ago in a title fight, Ruiz made his final decision.
He is planning to open a boxing gym in Boston, or perhaps here, to give others, as he said, opportunities that he never had.
The Johnny Ruiz story is an uplifting tale about a very tough guy coming out of a very poor city who rose to the top of the brutal and competitive professional boxing world.
It is the quintessential American Melting Pot story of a young man who came here from his native Puerto Rico and who defied all the odds to become the first Latino Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the world.