Luis Feliciano: He’s a boxer, an Olympic hopeful, and the first in his family to graduate from college

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MILWAUKEE -- Luis Feliciano, a boxer and Marquette University graduate has put his heart and soul into his sport -- but if it doesn't work out, he won't be down for the count due to his accomplishment outside the ring.

"This is home right here. Been going at it for 15 years here -- since I was seven years old. I walked through the doors and I've been here ever since," Feliciano said.

Luis Feliciano

Luis Feliciano

Luis Feliciano

Luis Feliciano

Feliciano cut his teeth in boxing at Milwaukee's United Community Center.

"It's not the biggest place, and it has its old, rugged, old style, but I love it. This is where I've grown. This is a place that's allowed me to grow as an individual and as a fighter," Feliciano said.

Legendary amateur boxer and Olympic coach Israel "Shorty" Acosta has been in Feliciano's corner since the beginning. He has touched countless youngsters both in and out of the ring.

"It's a great tribute to what Shorty has done for this community -- for everyone," Feliciano said.

Luis Feliciano

Luis Feliciano

Feliciano made the Olympic trials for the second time. The national champion represented our country at the Pan American Games. Now 22, he's focused on making the Olympic team.

"I just feel like this time is my time. It's really my time. We're really going to get it done," Feliciano said.

All boxers hit bags, but how many can say they also hit the books?

Feliciano has a strong one-two punch. He has a degree from MU in criminology and law studies.

Luis Feliciano

Luis Feliciano

"I graduated this year and walked the stage. I have just a few credits left. With the whole boxing thing, it's been going great," Feliciano said.

Between training six days a week, sometimes twice a day, and going to class at MU, Feliciano was burning the candle at both ends.

"I just started doing a better job of disciplining myself -- having to wake up a little earlier to get my training done and obviously have a good balance with the school too. It was actually a blessing because it made me learn a little more about myself and I just grew a lot," Feliciano said.

Another blessing was walking that stage at MU.

Luis Feliciano

Luis Feliciano

"I'm the first person from my family to graduate from college -- to attend and graduate from college. I was just so happy because four years, putting in all the work and all the time, it wasn't easy from a school like Marquette University," Feliciano said.

In December, after wrapping up his final research paper, Feliciano went to Reno, Nevada to try to fulfill his Olympic dream -- a dream he hopes to share with others.

"It would mean a lot -- especially for my family. They've been behind me 100%. Everyone that's basically seen me grow as a fighter, I think it would mean a lot for them and obviously for the city, and that's the goal -- to come back to Milwaukee as an Olympian," Feliciano said.

Unfortunately, Feliciano fell short of his goal. But because of all of his hard work in the classroom, he knew going in that he had something to fall back on.

Luis Feliciano

Luis Feliciano

"Boxing is a sport where anything can happen. One punch can end everything. I think it's necessary to have a Plan B in life because you never know what can happen," Feliciano said.

Feliciano can always count on his MU degree -- but he's also weighing several options as it relates to becoming a professional boxer.

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