Rodriguez, nicknamed "Morochito", was Venezuela's first Olympic gold medalist, winning gold in the light flyweight division in its inaugural year of competition, 1968. His amateur record stood at 266 wins, 4 losses.
After the Olympics, Rodríguez signed a professional contract. Before fighting he took his mother to a pro bout. At one point, one of the boxers' bloody mouthpiece landed in Rodriguez's mother's lap. She begged Rodriguez to give up fighting and he cancelled his contract.