Rodriguez, a Worcester, Mass., native by way of the Dominican Republic, had established himself as one of the best super-middleweight boxers in the country and was a strong hopeful for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
But as he was preparing to do so, an event that usually brings joy to a man’s life put his boxing career on hold and cost him an opportunity to fight in the Olympics.
That’s because Rodriguez’s wife, Stephanie Rapa, gave birth to the couple’s twins, although she did so prematurely, only 23 weeks into her pregnancy in November of 2006.
The premature birth of the twins halted Rodriguez’s training for the Olympic qualifying trials.
Rodriguez’s manager, Larry Army, said that Rodriguez was “definitely one of the favorites to make the U.S. Olympic team.”
But despite the young boxer’s hopes and dreams of participating on the biggest stage, he knew what he had to do. He needed to be by his wife’s side as their kids battled for their lives.
“Him and his wife were, like, 21 weeks in the hospital, hoping that these kids were going to make it and live,” said Rodriguez’s trainer Peter Manfredo Sr. “He had to put his boxing career on hold. He would have made the Olympics.”
“I work hard for what I want, I wanted to be an Olympian, and for certain reasons, it didn’t happen,” Rodriguez said, but he noted he doesn’t regret the time he missed. “If I had an opportunity to do it all over again, I’d pick my kids any day of the week.”
His choice paid off. His children made it through the initial struggles and are now trying to live a normal life.
“My daughter had a paralyzed vocal chord and she talks different,” Rodriguez said. “It’s cute because it’s really low and I love it. She’s daddy’s girl. He [his son] got diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He just started walking, and that made my — not my day — that made my life.”
Rapa said that a quality the children likely got from their father is one of the reasons they are still here today and continue to bless the lives of her and her fiance.
“I wouldn’t change a thing — I mean I wish they would have been healthy, but I’m just grateful that they’re here with us and that they are who they are,” she said. “They’re fighters and they mean the world to us.”
Rodriguez’s career has come around as well, as he is 16-0 with 12 KOs as a professional and is one of the top super middleweight prospects in boxing.
For more on the inspiring story of Edwin Rodriguez and his family, be sure to watch the video below.