US Men's Gymnastic Olympic Team 2012: Bronx Upbringing Toughened Up John Orozco

Josh Schoch@JoshSchochAnalyst IIIJuly 23, 2012

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 01:  John Orozco celebrates in the confetti after being named to the US Gymnastic team going to the 2012 London Olympics at  HP Pavilion on July 1, 2012 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Growing up in a rough part of the Bronx wasn't easy for U.S. Olympic gymnast John Orozco, but he overcame the odds and his surroundings to become an Olympian at the age of 19.

If he had been almost anywhere else in the world, his biggest fear may have been trying to fight off his three older brothers with whom he shared a room. However, the gymnastics star was much more worried about the criminals with whom he shared the streets.

Orozco was signed up for free gymnastics lessons at the age of seven by his father, William (per People). After working hard and training for years he realized that he wanted to get serious at the age of 13, when he switched to a gym in Chappaqua, NY to train harder.

However, it wasn't easy to get Orozco into the gym and pay for his lessons. He's even said, "My whole family was working there at one point." (People).

Along with their sacrifices, the family had to stick together to stay alive. From the article in People:

He and his brothers fought off a large group of knife-wielding men while on their way home from church. One of his brothers was beaten so badly that he was hospitalized for days, the gymnast remembers.

The difficult life that Orozco led in the Bronx appears to be behind him, as he is now living in Colorado and will try to win a gold medal in London.

He and rival countryman Danell Leyva are among the best gymnasts in the world and have been going back and forth for years.

While Leyva is the reigning world champion and barely beat Orozco at trials, Orozco won the 2012 Visa Championship and will look to add an Olympic gold to his resume as well.

His dangerous beginnings have made Orozco the man he is today. He is now a tough, gritty competitor and a kind-hearted person. He is an elite gymnast and a humble human being.

Orozco didn't just have to overcome the odds to become an Olympian—he also had to overcome the dangers of the Bronx. However, it's made him who he is today and he will look to take the lessons learned in New York to London.