On Friday evening, December 16, it was the San Diego Athletic Academy hosting the first day of their annual Boxers for Christ National Championship at the Bound Boxing Academy in Chula Vista. As in the past, these young boxers came from near and far to compete and like other National Tournaments, winning in your age and weight division is quite an accomplishment.
Before the start of the first bout and after the customary invocation by tournament director Robert Coons, Coons mentioned the passing of a dear friend of our local USA Amateur Boxing family, Doctor Richard Butcher. “In remembrance of Dr. Butcher, we would like to dedicate our efforts in this tournament to him and honor our beloved friend’s family which have kindly joined us this evening. Dr. Butcher invested his time and passions into far more than just his Lincoln Park practice on Euclid Avenue. During his career, he also spent countless hours serving as the team doctor for local high school football teams and also as the ringside physician for our Boxers for Christ Tournaments. Dr. Butcher was a critical part of our organization’s mission. Despite his age, 77, and busy schedule, the good Doctor was ready and willing to assist us at this year’s event. He was always there for us. He was always there for the kids. As is the tradition, we will now have the timekeeper sound the 10 count.”
On his passing, the San Diego Union Tribune wrote: “This family practitioner was venerated for his work with the poor and disadvantaged of southeastern San Diego.” Dr. Butcher is survived by his wife, Vickie, a well-respected local attorney, the couple’s five children: April Noble, Kelley Butcher, Langston Butcher, Crystal Butcher, Richard Butcher and foster daughter, Gina Clifton. The couple has six grandchildren. If we were to overlook his many accomplishments in the field of medicine and only key on his work as a ringside physician, the good doctor would be remembered as the doctor with the warm smile, an extremely kind and caring person, who would always go the distance to ensure all athletes were safe and given the utmost attention.
In Bout #1 of the two-day tournament, they featured a rematch between Anthony “El Indio” Padilla from the Legacy Training Center, Vista, Calif. going up against Adrian Mendez from the ABC Mongoose Gym, San Diego who were bracketed in the 10-year-old, 85-pound division. In their nonstop, three round battle of wills, the punches came from all directions. In the end, it was Padilla earning a unanimous decision victory.
Bout #2 in the 13/14-year-old, 119-pound bracket, had Moises Cardenas of Courageous Catholic Boxing Club, Yuma, Arizona going up against the more experienced Jabin Chollet of the Bomber Squad Academy, El Cajon, Calif. Since Chollet had been out of action for over a year with various ailments (a shoulder operation and then a badly injured thumb), the outcome of this match was thought to be up for grabs. But after the bell sounded, there was no sign of any ring rust as Chollet went full bore to force the referee to issue three standing 8-counts and end the bout early.
Bout #3 in the 123-pound novice division had Alex Celaya from the San Diego Athletic Academy going up against the highly touted Aron Avila from the Intensity MMA & Fitness Gym, South San Diego. This was another mismatch as Celaya had only been training for eight months while Avila had already being touted as a force to be reckoned with. Despite the obvious difference in their skill level, Celaya lasted well into the second round before the bout was stopped due to the issuance of three 8-counts.
Bout #4, in the 152-pound Novice category, featured Eric Villanueva from Old School Boxing, San Diego going up against Jose Vargas Escogido from the Joey Tapia Boxing Club, Carlsbad who was making his amateur debut. With his edge in experience, Villanueva was in control from start to finish and kept peppering his opponent with the straighter, harder punches to outscore his opponent. from the outset, the never say never Escogido laid in wait for his opportunity to land that one big knockout blow but it never happened.
Bout #5, in the 132-pound Open category, featured Andy Trigueros (19-4) from the Duarte Boxing Club, Duarte, Calif. going up against Brandon Cruz (25-15) from the host gym, the Bound Boxing Academy, Chula Vista, Calif. In this one, both boxers left it all in the ring as the constant pummeling never let up. In the end, the close decision victory went to Cruz.
Bout #6, in the 141-pound female grouping, featured Crystal Flores from the Bound Boxing Academy in only her second bout going up against the more experienced Erika Sanchez from Duarte Boxing who had 15 bouts. As you might expect, Sanchez prevailed in this four round contest and secured a unanimous decision. That being said, it was a hard fought, battle royale.
Bout #7 in the 165 lb., Elite Female grouping, featured 19-year-old Lauryn Garcia from Excel Martial Arts Academy’s Boxing Team of Oceanside, Calif. going up against 27-year-old Jill Stafford from the Bomber Squad, El Cajon, Calif.
Bout #8 featured Jose Chollet from the Bomber Squad Academy, El Cajon going up against Chris Harris Jr. Once again, the Chollet family of boxers came through with the victory. His footwork, faster hands and defense helped Chollet stay in control from the opening bell.
Stay tuned for the results from Day 2 of the 2016 Boxers for Christ National Championship