April 25, 2013
The Rookie Storms the Stage: Roy Gamboa
By Eddie Malone

Roy Gamboa, a 26-year-old from Odessa, Texas, has made a dramatic splash in the South Central Region.


Photos by: Aaron Wesson

With the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games Open in the books, a glance at the South Central Leaderboard shows a lot of familiar names. However, the name in second place might make you do a double take.

Who is this Roy Gamboa?

Gamboa, a 26-year-old from Odessa, Texas, has made a dramatic splash in the South Central Region.

Less than a year after starting CrossFit, the former college football player completed his first competition ranked above such stalwarts as Jason Hoggan (third) and Regionals veteran, Drew Bignall (fourth). Along the way, Gamboa garnered three top-10 finishes in the region. His worst result was 40th on the triplet of wall balls, double-unders and muscle-ups in 13.3.

Worldwide, the Texan finished in 71st place.

Gamboa is a graduate student at Abilene’s Hardin-Simmons University where he also played four years of football. He first heard about CrossFit in 2011 while grocery shopping. With food in tow, he received a text message from a former teammate: “Bro, when are you gonna win the CrossFit Games?”

“I was confused because I had no idea what CrossFit was,” Gamboa says. “The teammate responded to my confused text by saying ‘they lift crazy weights like you.’ So I got home from grocery shopping and watched the Games (on ESPN).”

Though he was impressed by CrossFit’s athletes, Gamboa didn’t buy into the methodology until last August. His football background ensured he was always in the gym, lifting weights and training the Olympic lifts. All that experience has provided Gamboa with a 250-lb. snatch and 500-lb. back squat.

Football’s competitive atmosphere also prepared him for CrossFit.

“The strengths I developed as a football player that help me with CrossFit are being mentally tough, disciplined and being exposed to Olympic weightlifting and constant competition in every area of football including in-season and off-season drills, stats and the football games themselves,” he says.

In spite of his tremendous start, Gamboa admits he has a way to go in the sport. Unaffiliated during the Open, he knew he was missing out on the guidance and expertise of an experienced CrossFit coach. With Regionals approaching, Gamboa has recruited the services of Aaron Wesson. Wesson is in the process of opening his own box. And his help has made a huge difference. 

"(Wesson) has taken my workouts to another level," Gamboa says, "and I have placed all my trust in his programming."

He says his favorite moments of the 2013 Open also happened to be his most challenging. Gamboa struggled with the pacing of the muscle-ups in Workout 13.3, but was grateful for the experience because it showed him where he needed to improve. In general, Gamboa has a lot of catching up to do in gymnastics and looks forward to training his weaknesses and improving overall.

But Gamboa doesn’t have a lot of time.

Looming is the gauntlet of Regionals where only the most complete athletes will qualify for the CrossFit Games in Carson, Calif. Last year’s Regional athletes tackled six workouts in three days — testing not only their abilities in the 10 areas of fitness, but their intestinal fortitude, as well.

Gamboa admits the task ahead is daunting, but he isn’t short on self-belief. His goal in San Antonio is pretty bold. In his rookie season, he wants to make the podium and punch his ticket to the Games.

On the surface, it’s a mission impossible. All the variables are against him. But then you recall what he’s accomplished in less than a year of CrossFit and you start to wonder, is it possible?

No matter what the outcome, don’t expect him to go away. Gamboa says he’s in it for the long haul. 

“CrossFit in general is an overall blessing in my life,” he says. “It has taught me how to work even harder in workouts and also carry that mentality over to real-life situations,” he explains. “Whenever I experience a challenging moment in my life, such as grad school work, I tell myself, ‘You made it through Murph today; schoolwork is the cake part of the day.’”

Spoken like a true CrossFitter.