Do you recall all that idle talk a few years ago about the sport of Boxing being on the decline? Surely MMA, with it’s Ultimate Fighting Championships leading the way and one sold-out show after another, it would make people forget all about boxing as they did wrestling.
The articles or shall we say propaganda would begin: “Boxing’s decline, and at least for now its eclipse by MMA, represents more than merely the sunset of a sport that once was extraordinarily popular but no longer is. Other diversions have come and gone throughout history. Horse racing has similarly slipped out of the mainstream culture, with only those who cling to a minority passion to lament its passing. Like the six-day bicycle races that were once front-page news; but no longer.”
The downplay of Boxing was quite convincing. The long and short of the above, almost poetic, discourse? It was all BS. It was just MMA promoters like Dana White beating their chests and having their hack writers write and then re-write the same propaganda of “Aren’t we something! Aren’t we so much better than anything that came before us?”
Just last week, the news of Boxing’s popularity, especially in Mexico, reached another milestone when it was announced the sport had surpassed soccer in the television viewer rankings. According to several media outlets in Mexico, the return of the former four division world champion Juan Manuel Marquez, who on May 17th defeated Mike Alvarado with a 12 round unanimous decision, drew a final ratings figure which translates to 22 million viewers. This number beat the Mexican soccer final between Leon and Pachuca, which had an estimated 19 million viewers.
Marquez’s return also beat out the Mexico ratings number generated by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in his battle against Marcos Maidana. However, the Marquez/Alvarado numbers did fall short of another telecast. The April 12th rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley scored even higher. But wait a minute, that was also a boxing event.
Without breaking a sweat, this sports advocate can name 40 gyms dedicated to boxing within San Diego County. Thirty years ago, that number would have been six. With the continual news of hard times everywhere, it’s certainly gratifying to learn of each new boxing facility opening which gives even further credence to the irrefutable fact boxing is doing just fine.
Without further ado, we introduce you to the two newest locations where you can now go and learn how to box.
If you’ve ever traveled through the community of Bonita, it’s for sure you’ve seen the blue and yellow Dinosaurs out front of the quaint shopping center in the 4100 block of Bonita Road. Directly behind those Dinosaurs at 4130 Bonita Road there’s the new F.L.Y. Fitness & Wellness Center which houses the new Pride of San Diego Boxing Club, a large dance area for the Zumba and other dance workout classes plus a fully stocked supplements store for weight loss, muscle building, and general health.
The dance workout classes are run by the facility’s owner Liz Acosta, who has 10 years experience as an instructor and from time to time been a dance choreographer. The Pride of San Diego Boxing Club is under the direction of Pro Boxer Rafael Ramirez who recently signed a six-fight deal with Barron Entertainment, and finally they have dietitian and nutrition consultant John Espada, who worked with Wanderlei Silva, Forrest Griffin and Vitor Belfort at the Throwdown Academy in Las Vegas, helping the fighters choose the proper nutrition supplements. There you have it – everything you need and it’s all under one roof.
Ramirez, a pro boxer, has been involved in boxing since 1999. He knows what it takes, the importance of having the proper balance, power, technique, and agility.
“Boxing is a relatively inexpensive and convenient sport,” says Ramirez. “In order to get you good at it, all I need is your time and dedication.”
Ramirez, in the welterweight division, knows a lot about overcoming adversity. In his last outing, Ramirez, a righty, broke his hand in the fourth round while hitting the top of his opponent’s head. Too proud, too lionhearted to quit, he then fought the final two rounds with just his left hand. In conclusion, the three judges had him winning all six rounds.
The other boxing program is located inside the San Ysidro Community Activity Center at the end of Diza Road in San Ysidro. After it’s founder Rey Alvarez hung up his gloves, he worked at becoming an astute trainer at the Azteca Boxing Club in Bell, CA where he’d hold the mitts for top professionals like former World Flyweight Champ Giovani “El Guerrero Azteca” Segura. Each day, after working at his body shop, he’d fulfill his passion for teaching by heading off to that same gym. This is when you need a understanding spouse and Alvarez is fortunate in that regard.
Shortly after relocating in San Ysidro, Alvarez started to get that same urge to get back in the gym. In October of 2013, Alvarez looked into starting a boxing program for the local youth. With so much interest from the kids but limited personal funds, he was in a quandary about which way to turn.
That’s when he contacted San Diego Councilman David Alvarez to seek his advice. Councilman Alvarez then made it one of his top priorities. He reached out to Antonio Martinez, the President of the Parks and Recreation Department, who then contacted Robert Lara, the Director of the San Ysidro Recreation Center along with an assist from Eric Estrada.
Things started to happen and the Director of the Community Center offered Rey Alvarez the available space in the large room adjacent to the basketball court. In no time, he started buying equipment and the heavy bags went up. In a short time he had 30 youngsters signed up for his boxing program. Each week, four to five new youngsters would join the program. Before he knew it, he had two youngsters ready to compete in the local USA Amateur shows and then on to the junior olympics. All this happened in less than six months.
Alvarez, who incorporates most every discipline, every known workout regime, makes certain that his boxers learn the proper way. “It’s all about technique,” says Alvarez. “It’s a given that my workout routines are tough but that’s just what these kids want. I’m amazed at how hard they work and how fast they learn. From the moment they come in, they realize it’s not going to be a cake walk but they seem to know the value of pushing themselves to reach their goals.”
Alvarez, who knows everyone by their first name and goes above and beyond the call of duty to put a smile on their face, has this mantra that reminds you of the Marine Corps credo, “No Marine left behind.” He’s not satisfied until each and every one of his students excel.
At this point, with so many of his students just starting out or in their second or third week of training, it’s time to take a photo or video of each and then have them look back in six months to a year. They will be amazed by their progress. At that point we can thank both Rey Alvarez and Rafael Ramirez for their vision, dedication and hard work.