H-LEGENDS IN THE MAKING

Jan 9, 2013 6:54 PM by Bill Halter

Legend in the Making: Blind boxer Ozzie Quezada

Twenty-five years ago, San Luis Obispo resident Ozzie Quezada's life changed forever. Quezada was 16 years old and living in San Diego when a drive-by shooter blinded him with a bullet through the head. Quezada says he was in a gang at the time. He thinks a rival gang was responsible but police never charged anyone with the shooting.

"Walking home about one o'clock in the morning. Right when I got to a street corner a car pulled in and turned their lights off and all I heard was gun fire" said Quazada, who was in a coma for three months after the shooting.

When Quezada woke up he was completely blind. Doctors performed 14 surgeries on him to bring back his eyesight but nothing worked. "I was angry and mad. It was very confusing for me, I didn't understand blindness. I thought it could be fixed."

Quezada closed himself off from the world. "I was in pretty bad shape. I was very upset, depressed. I didn't come out of my room for close to two years."

Quezada gained a lot of weight, he ballooned to 290 pounds. He was getting professional help for his depression and eventually found a purpose. "Finally it got to the point where I got the strength from I don't know where and I just wanted to get out of the house and started getting back into working out" said Quezada.

Before the shooting, Quezada trained six days a week to be a boxer. "I started boxing when I was seven years old and just training every day and looking forward to the future to becoming a professional boxer and going to the olympics" said Quezada.

His professional boxing dreams were shattered but Quezada was able to quickly shed 70 pounds by training like he did before the shooting. Now 41 years old, Quezada works out three hours a day, six days a week, just like he used to. "I take a day off just to catch up on my social life" said Quezada with a chuckle.

Led by his seeing eye dog Ivory, Quezada walks two and a half miles to Club 24 in San Luis Obispo from his home. He does 45 minutes on the punching bag in addition to weight training and cardio, he then walks home. "That's what keeps me going in life. The dream of standing in front of a punching bag and doing my workouts is what keeps me going because otherwise I think depression would come in and it's hard to get out of that."

Quezada says he thinks about the shooting often and now considers it a blessing. "It's a gift that I have. That's what it took to keep me out of trouble. I always look at it like jumping over the fence all the time and finally someone upstairs told me, no more. Like a broken leg you can't jump over the fence anymore. That's what basically kept me out of trouble and I look at life a little better now."

Quezada wants to become a personal trainer but knows that will be tough because of his blindness. He recommends that anyone dealing with depression seek professional help.

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