Nightly News   |  August 01, 2012

John Orozco: ‘the fighter’

He survived tough circumstances to become an Olympic athlete. Today, gymnast John Orozco is known for his unmatched ability to stick landings, and has become an inspiration after overcoming his 2010 injury. NBC’s Chris Jansing reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> after yesterday's women's gymnastics gold medal tonight it is the men's turn. one of tonight's contenders was a man who started at the bronx which made it tough to get here in the first place.

>> reporter: you can see it from his earliest competition. john orosco was a natural. he was seven when his dad saw a flyer because when he was born he was fearless.

>> we would put him in his crib and the lights were out and we would here a bump and there was john.

>> reporter: soon john was competing and winning. in his small bedroom filled with the memorabilia of a champion a dream took shape.

>> i used to stay up all hours of the night and think of how it would feel to go to the olympic trials.

>> reporter: john grew up here in the puerto rico neighborhood of the bronx where he was teased relentlessly. once on his way home from church he and his brother were jumped by local thugs with knives and injured.

>> people were attacking my brothers.

>> reporter: he worried about his parents, too, when his dad had a stroke and was forced to retire from the sanitation department john got a job to help out.

>> his first check he handed to his father and said here for the mortgage.

>> reporter: then he blew out his achilles tendon potentially injuring his career.

>> i thought it was the biggest tragedy in our lives. he came back with a bang.

>> reporter: john got better in every eevent training far from home in colorado and focusing on skills that didn't pound his ankle learning tricks on the high bar and performing effortless flare work on the floor and maintaining his unmatched ability --

>> he is a natural.

>> reporter: stick landing. he helped hang the olympic ring with his proud dad. and it was mom and dad he tearfully thanked when he made the olympic team.

>> when i am out on the floor it is a lonely feeling out there. and then i think about my family and the reason i have taken this so far is because i wanted to create a better life for myself and my family.

>> reporter: that little boy who loved to perform is now starring in a popular music video appropriately titled "the fighter." and ready to take center stage in london. not bad for a kid from the bronx , huh?

>> not bad at all.

>> reporter: john's nickname in the gym is the silent ninja because he has all of these amazing moves and is so quiet. all of t

>> thank you for telling his story tonight. you can see