Hard to believe, it’s been a year since tragic loss of Pablo Armenta

Here we see referee Christian Curiel raising the arm of Pablo Armenta after Armenta knocked Hernandez out in round #1 back on March 22, 2012 at Salon Las Pulgas in Tijuana, B. C., Mexico.

Here we see referee Christian Curiel raising the arm of the victorious Pablo Armenta after he knocked out Francisco Hernandez in round #1 of their scheduled four rounder back on March 22, 2012 at Salon Las Pulgas in Tijuana, B. C., Mexico.

Pablo “Bronco” Armenta, 11-18-89 to 8-28-2013

Mark Twain: “Unconsciously we all have a standard by which we measure other men, and if we examine closely, we find this standard is a very simple one, and that is: we admire them, we envy them, for great qualities we ourselves lack.”

These are the people doing things which we recognize with regret and sometimes with shame because we cannot do them. Of course if everyone was satisfied with themselves, there would be no heroes.

Heroes come from all walks of life. Some believe the true heroes are the parents who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs. While the maddening world spins about them, they stay focused on providing for their family.

Pablo “Bronco” Armenta was a slightly different type of hero; the one that’s always so self-assured, focused but at the same time so humble and polite. His come forward, no nonsense boxing style, made the 23 year-old San Diego boxing prospect special. From June 4, 2009 until July 17, 2013, he fought eight of his 12 professional bouts in San Diego at the Four Points By Sheraton Hotel for local promoter Bobby DePhilippis.

640 Pablo Aremnta at the scales

At the Press Conference for a show at the Crowne Plaza Resort & Hotel, we see many of San Diego's top professional fighters and coaches to include Pablo Armenta (far, right)

At the Press Conference for the boxing show at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, we see many of San Diego’s top professionals and coaches. Pablo Armenta is far right.

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At the very next  Bobby D Presents Boxing Show, the show's ring announcer Benny Ricardo and the honored guests bowed their heads and paid tribute to Pablo Armenta.

(photo below) At the first boxing show after Pablo Armenta’s passing, ring announcer Benny Ricardo (c) plus honored guests and patrons bowed their heads to pay homage to their fallen hero as the timekeeper sounded the traditional 10 count.

To those who knew Pablo Armenta (10-1-1, 5 KOs), he was one of their heroes. After seriously injuring his right shoulder in a bout against Wilbert Ortiz on April 23, 2012, Armenta was forced to shelve his career. After an operation on that shoulder, he was back in the ring in less than three months.

On July 17, 2013, he returned to face the very tough Erick Aguirre (4-4-1, 2 KOs) at Salon Las Pulgas in Tijuana. At the conclusion of their ferocious battle, Armenta, the winner, needed 11 stitches to close a gash over his right eye.

Another dogfight, the Pablo Armenta vs. Ricky Gutierrez bout

In another bout he seriously hurt his hand and yet he continued on to victory, following in the footsteps of the legends like Erik Morales, Arturo Gatti and Jake La Motta. Local fight fans always knew he’d be giving it everything he had, and like the gladiators of old, he wouldn’t leave the ring unless it was on a stretcher.

He was trained by some of the best, no nonsense coaches – Max Gutierrez, David Gutierrez, Juan Medina, Jr. and Luis Gamez. If you were to ask them about his commitment, they’d tell you how he’d run further and faster, hit the bag longer and harder and never pass up an opportunity to spar. With such a commitment, he never had any issues making weight.

We’ll never know how great Armenta could have been, because a gunman took him from us on August 28, 2013 in Tijuana. We do know it was a senseless, cowardly act.

The large group of mourners who attended the viewing, the church service and later the burial, did not want to leave his gravesite. It was as if they felt Pablo was still among us, at least in spirit, and they wanted to show him the deepness of their affection and depth of sorrow.

The pessimist would say, ‘there are no heroes in life, only the monsters win.’ That negativity had no place in the hearts of the mourners. Besides, a monster can never accumulate enough treasure to make themselves happy. A monster will always feel inadequate standing next to the well liked man who knows the value of having many, many friends. 

We loved Pablo for many reasons; one because he was selfless. Whether he could have become a champion or just an average boxer, who can say. We loved him because he was a dreamer, a part of that group who never stops striving to do the impossible. It was his extra effort that made him successful. We admired him because he never failed to put up a good fight and would always go to any length to entertain the boxing fans. 

Armenta’s only loss (by decision) came to Guy Robb (13-1-0, 5 KOs) from Sacramento, CA who is now ranked in the top 20 super featherweights in the world.

(top, right) The one guy who gave Pablo Armenta problems was Guy Robb (13-1-1, 5 KOs) from Sacramento, CA. All photos: Jim Wyatt

(top, right) The one guy who gave Pablo Armenta a problem was Guy Robb (13-1-1, 5 KOs) from Sacramento, CA. Photos: Jim Wyatt

At the gravesite, the preacher stated: “Pablo will eternally live in the hearts of his parents Juan and Esperanza Armenta, his siblings Alfredo, Andres and Erika and his nephews whom he loved with all his heart. He will be missed dearly by all that had the honor of knowing him.”

Besides the love of his family, he was also dedicated to his longtime girlfriend Bree. Every aspect of Pablo’s life revolved around his ultimate goal of becoming a World Champion, from his diet to the daily work out routines.  

He would DVR boxing matches to study the champions of the past and present. His hard work paid dividends as he mastered his craft victory after victory. At the time of his death, he was listed as #39 in the USA rankings. The doors of opportunity continued to open wide and wider for the local crowd favorite.

The following message was received from Pablo’s sister: “Hi, I’m Pablo’s sister Erika Serrano. Thank you for taking the time to write this article. It means a lot to our family. Thank you for your kind words and how you describe my little brother Pablo.

“I would like to add that Pablo inspired not only adults but children as well. He always encouraged children to go after their dreams, to fight for what they want in life and to never give up. He trained anyone that was interested in boxing regardless of their age. Not only did he inspire them to eat healthy and be active, but to do what makes them happy. He was a hero and a role model to many. Pablo lived to defend and protect the weak. It was his pride to be able to help one in need. His eyes were dominating and powerful, his body healthy and athletic, very strong. He would wholeheartedly use his personality traits to deliver exactly what you needed to turn a negative event into a positive learning experience; from a smile to a kind word, a joke or a big tight hug. He was a genuine gift from God. Everyone who had the honor of meeting Pablo loved him instantly and now miss him endlessly.”

Personally, I was nervous at the Funeral Mass figuring the Armenta family had to be furious at the circumstances of Pablo’s death and grief can easily turn to anger. When you’re angry at the world and at your loved one for leaving you, who knows what will be said.

On television everyone knows what to say and do. In real life we often say too little or too much. What is right? I went with the heartfelt, “I’m so sorry.” My simple “Please accept my sympathy” seemed inadequate, so highbrow. 

As my eyes swelled up, I thought, ‘You don’t want to look like a baby. Of course, I wasn’t as close to Pablo as the family members, but his death did bring back memories of someone I thought the world of. Often our own feelings of grief return when we’re confronted by someone else’s grief. 

Even if I was in the immediate family, how could I expect to start a meaningful conversation. Friends and family were grieving too deeply. I wanted to be of service to them and share memories but it was too awkward. 

Well, now is the time. Please add your memories of Pablo Armenta in the comment section below.

One of Pablo's best friends ever was Genaro Gamez, a current member of Team USA who in 2016 should be competing in the Olympics in Brazil.

One of Pablo’s best friends and admirers was Genaro Gamez (r), a current member of Team USA who no doubt will be competing in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

This memorial banner, which hangs in the United Boxing Gym in South San Diego, showcases (l to r) Felix “El Gato” Castro, Luis Antonio Gamez Jr. and Pablo “Bronco” Armenta, three very popular and outstanding boxers who lost their lives tragically at a young age.

This memorial banner, which hangs in the United Boxing Gym in South San Diego, showcases (l to r) Felix “El Gato” Castro, Luis Antonio Gamez Jr. and Pablo “Bronco” Armenta, three very popular boxers who lost their lives tragically at a young age.

During intermission  at a local Bobby D Presents Boxing show the attendees were introduced to several local up and coming boxing stars. (l to r) Rey Gamez, Pablo Armenta, Christian Torres, Kandice Williams, promoter Jorge Marron and Roque “Rocky” Ramos.

At a local Bobby D Presents Boxing show, attendees were introduced to several up and coming boxing stars. (l to r) Rey Gamez, Pablo Armenta, Christian Torres, Kandice Williams, promoter Jorge Marron and Roque “Rocky” Ramos.

 

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About the Author

Jim Wyatt, a 1970 graduate of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, has written weekly sports features for several Military newspapers, WCKMuayThai.com, SportofBoxing.com and Examiner.com as their San Diego Boxing Examiner. He was one of the four "Wise Guys" who predicted winning football selections versus the Vegas spreads. Some of the people he enjoyed meeting: Earvin "Magic" Johnson, WWF Wrestler Lita, LaDainian Tomlinson, Nate Kaeding and Darren Bennett of the Chargers, Tony Gwynn and Jake Peavy of the Padres, soccer stars Shannon MacMillan and Julie Foudy, Mixed Martial Artists Cris Cyborg, Junior Dos Santos, the Nogueira brothers plus the many great people involved in boxing and Muaythai.