On Friday, Tony Castro from Fresno, Calif. called from St. Petersburg, Russia to report on his son Marc’s latest exploits. On Saturday, his 16 year-old, a USA Amateur bantamweight, would be competing for the Gold Medal at this year’s AIBA sponsored Junior World Championships in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Coach Tony Castro: “Marc has defeated all comers in the lead up to Saturday’s finals. The finals of this AIBA International tournament will feature 13 weight divisions and in Marc’s final match he has to face southpaw, Alexei Rodriguez Romero, a formidable foe from Cuba.”
As soon as the fight was over, we got our call back from the proud father. “From the opening bell, Marc was in control of the fight and went on to win an unanimous decision 30-26.
“Five additional U. S. A. representatives earned medals. Pinweight Jesse Rodriguez from San Antonio, Texas, flyweight Rey Diaz from North Las Vegas, Nevada and featherweight Gabriel Flores from Stockton, Calif. won silver medals while lightweight Harley Mederos from Brooklyn, N.Y. and light welterweight Leon Lawson from Flint, Mich. took home bronze.
“Russia, the host country, ended up with six of their champions in the finals, five of which went on to win the gold in front of the many supportive fans. The six medal performance ranked the United States in third place in the team standings behind Russia and Uzbekistan.”
This marks the most medals ever won by the United States in the event and is triple the two medal showing of 2013. Castro is only the third ever junior world champion from the United States, joining Isiah Thomas (Detroit, Mich.) and 2013 titlist Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.).
Coaches Augie Sanchez (Las Vegas, Nev.), Jason Spencer (Flint, Mich.) and Gabriel Flores, Sr. (Stockton, Calif.) led the United States team in Russia and Dr. Travis Lee (Norfolk, Va.) served as the team physician.
Marc Castro: “It feels great, after all those countless hours of training. Getting up early every day. It was all worth it. The final was against a very, good Cuban opponent, but I had the gold medal on my mind, and I was not going to stop until I got my hand raised. I knew I had to give it my all to win. St. Petersburg is a beautiful place. This was a great event and a great experience. I love it here.”
At present, our local USA Amateur Boxing Program, LBC 44 (which includes North County, San Diego and Imperial Counties) and their competition from Los Angeles and Orange Counties are feverishly preparing their “Travel Teams” to head across the border to take part in the U. S. versus Mexico Bi-National Tournament to be held in Tijuana on November 6th, 7th and 8th. Like the AIBA International Competition in Russia, this fast approaching event was discussed in earnest at the last LBC 44 monthly meeting at the Holiday Inn in Cardiff By the Sea, Calif. on September 8th.
At that meeting, The Arena’s well respected head boxing coach, Joe Vargas, was selected to be the head coach of the new, USA Amateur LBC 44 Travel Team. Together with a select group of coaches, he will have to select the top boxers to represent our LBC 44 in the competition versus LBC 33 plus the Mexican Teams from Baja California which will include Ensenada, Mexicali, Tijuana, Rosarito, etc.
Unlike Tony Castro and his son Marc who had to travel 5,540 miles from Fresno, Calif. to St. Petersburg, Russia, this tournament will be held right here in our own backyard. As mentioned, LBC 44 is already in the planning stages, arranging for transportation, plus the hotel accommodations and meals. They’re also planning to buy brand new “team” uniforms. It’s doubtful they’ll be able to match the glitz and glitter of the AIBA Junior World Boxing Championships in Russia’s cultural capital of St. Petersburg, but it looks like they’re going to give it their best shot.