Mission Oak renames gym after Olympic alumnus

Mission Oak High School honors 2020 Olympian Richard Torrez Jr. by naming school gym in his honor

TULARE – The celebration continues for Richard Torrez Jr. as his alma mater has all but donned the All-Purpose Gymnasium to his namesake.

The Mission Oak gym is located on the northwest side of campus, where all indoor athletes practice, competitions and physical education classes are held. Many of the community, followed by students and teachers, agree this is an excellent opportunity to recognize Torrez. The primary connection between the gymnasium and Torrez is that this is a place where students can become well rounded athletes.

On Sept. 2, Tulare Joint Unified School District offered a sign-up sheet available for anyone in the community to participate in creating a facility naming committee. Name change recommendations came from the board of trustees to recognize Torrez for winning the 2020 summer Olympic games silver medal in boxing.

Dereck Domingues, director of Tulare Joint Unified School District, mentioned community options as to what facilities were offered for naming.

“The committee had two other options; the library and a combination of the library gymnasium. Ultimately, the committee chose the gymnasium.”

From Tulare to Japan and back, Torrez has been living his boxing career. He grew up training in an old shack which was converted to a boxing gym, now known as the Tulare Athletic Boxing Club. It was opened in 1945 by his grandfather Manuel Torrez, a former Southwestern United States Golden Gloves champion.

Torrez was a brilliant student who disciplined himself by going after his academics, becoming valedictorian with a 4.16 GPA. A Mission Oak alumnus in the class of 2017, he was involved in football, basketball, track and field, president of the chess club, and a member of the robotics club. In his junior year, Torrez’s boxing journey started when he devoted most of his energy to boxing, taking first place in the Junior National Championships in 2013. Torrez plans to make his professional debut soon and desires to stay in the Central Valley and give back to the community that raised him.

There is currently no funding or estimated budget to move forward with this facility as the name still has to be approved by the Tulare Joint Unified High School District board.

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