Boxers/Muaythai fighters help raise money for Rare Cancer Aware

June 24, 2017 No Comments

(top right) At Saturday’s Rare Cancer Aware fundraiser, Maania Hopper, the co-founder of the organization and her dear friend Artem Sharoshkin pose for a photo before the start of the festivities which featured five USA Amateur Boxing bouts and eight IFK Muaythai fights. (left) We have a treasured photo of Maania with her husband Lorenzo Von Matterhorn on vacation at Big Bear Lake in California.

Artem Sharoshkin, CEO of The Boxing Club in La Jolla, Calif.: “The inspiration for the “It’s Worth Fighting For” organization wanting to partner with the “Rare Cancer Aware” foundation began when The Boxing Club hosted Maania Hopper’s 30th Birthday Charity Event. At that time, Maania and her loved ones gathered to celebrate and receive donations to put together care packages for patients in treatment at the UCSD Moore’s Cancer Center. As a current cancer patient herself, the Boxing Club was so inspired by this woman’s selflessness, we were determined to throw a special fight night event in her honor.

“At present, there are so many different cancer foundations but we love what Rare Cancer Aware stands for because they focus on the patients that are fighting a special battle. Their goal is to help those diagnosed with rare forms of cancer by helping to minimize the obstacles people with rare cancers face with respect to treatment options, cancer research, and organizational support. They are trying to create a future that holds all cancer patients with equal access to care, resources and developing treatments in a united fight against cancer.”

(top, left) Artem Sharoshkin from The Boxing Club of La Jolla, welcomes the capacity crowd to his Charity Event. The classy show had all the regalia you’d expect, from the lovely singer singing the National Anthem to the presence of the local Marine Corps Color Guard.

On hand to watch the athletes perform plus meet and greet the contributors to this “Rare Cancer Aware” Foundation benefit were Maania Hopper and her husband.


USA Amateur Boxers compete

In Bout #1, it was 14-year-old Emmanuel Madera (136.8 lbs., with a record of 1-0) venturing all the way from The Underground Lab in Sacramento, Calif. and traveling 7.5 hours by auto to end up getting the best of 15-year-old Dylan Thomas Taylor (130.8 lbs.) from the host gym, the Boxing Club of La Jolla. From the outset, Madera, a brawler, smothered his opponent and whenever Taylor managed to land a punch or two, Madera was clever enough to tie him up and thwart any chance of a comeback.

(bottom right) The combatants in Bout #1, the victorious Emmanuel Madera (black trunks) and Dylan Thomas Taylor (blue trunks) pose for one last photo with their coaches at the end of their hard fought contest.

In Bout #2, they featured a 32-year-old web developer, Adam Monzon (134.4 lbs.) from The Boxing Club in La Jolla, Calif. in his debut getting the best of 25-year-old Vincent Westgate (131 lbs.) from the same gym.

At first, it appeared the much taller Vincent Westgate (red headgear) would be able to use his snapping jab and overhand rights to control the contest but Adam Monzon proved too elusive, ducked under Westgate’s wide looping punches and spent the entire three rounds outworking his foe on the inside.

(bottom, left) At the conclusion of their contest, we see referee Andrew Moreno (c) raising the arm of the victorious Adam Monzon (l). Photos: Jim Wyatt

In Bout #3, they had 33-year-old Kyle Murray (148.2 lbs., red gloves) taking on the younger and more experienced 18-year-old William Hunter (3-0, 154.2 lbs.) from the Encinitas Boxing & Fitness Center.

(bottom) For survival sake, we see Kyle Murray (white head gear) beginning to rely on the strategy of hit and hold against the human dynamo William Hunter. (below, left) Referee Hondo Fontane issues Murray a standing 8-count.

(bottom) Kyle Murray is shown giving credit where credit is due. On this day, William Hunter (holding the trophy) proved to be unstoppable, unbeatable.

In Bout #4 it was 27-year-old Aerance Velasquez (3-0, 167.8 lbs.) from City Boxing in San Diego’s downtown taking on 21-year-old Roman Lysenko (172.4 lbs., a 5 win-1 loss Muay Thai fighter) from The Boxing Club in La Jolla who was making his boxing debut.

At first, there was a lot of giving and taking between Aerance Velasquez from City Boxing (red gloves) and Roman Lysenko (blue gloves) from The Boxing Club.

Before long that level playing field began to tilt in Aerance Velasquez’s favor. In the end, we see referee Hondo Fontane raising the arm of the undefeated Velasquez.

Before leaving ringside, we had Aerance Velasquez (left) from City Boxing pose for one last photo with his proud coach Vernon Lee.

In the final and perhaps most exciting Boxing match, Bout #5, they featured two young ladies, both debutants, a 30-year-old mom with one son, Vicki Mestler (135 lbs. with 3 years of shared training between the Art of Eight Training Center, Clairemont Mesa and Steel MMA in the Tierrasanta neighborhood of San Diego), going up against 28-year-old Stephanie Potter (129.8 lbs. with 4.5 years of training at The Boxing Club La Jolla.

With the help of her nonstop stiff jab and the sprinkling in of well thrown overhand rights, Vicki Mestler (red headgear) landed the more accurate blows as if she had been competing for years. To her credit, Stephanie Potter (white headgear) never backed up and finished strong right up until the final bell.

At the conclusion of their contest, we see Vicki Mestler (left) having her arm raised in victory by referee Hondo Fontane, the local LBC 44 President of USA Amateur Boxing.

The week following her victory over Stephanie Potter, this photo appeared on the internet. Rumor has it Vicki Mestler and her son have become celebrity spokespersons for the popular resort.


IKF Muay Thai portion of the Show

Artur Nugumanoy (1-0, 183.8 lbs., 6’2″ tall), trained by Kru Caine Gayle at The Boxing Club, La Jolla, Calif. wins a unanimous decision victory over 24-year-old Juan Tapia (0-1, 183.6 lbs., 6 foot tall), trained by Zac Shepard at the brand new Premier Fight and Fitness gym in Spring Valley, Calif. Scorecards: Judge Luis Cobian 30-27; Judge Jim Vanover 30-27; Judge Vichai Supkitpol 29-28 all for Nugumanoy.

In fight #1, it was Artur Nugumanoy (r) from The Boxing Club, earning a unanimous decision victory over Juan Tapia (l) from the Premier Fight & Fitness Gym.

Denis Pradhan (2-0, 154 lbs., 6’ tall), trained by Jessie Magusen at The Boxing Club (La Jolla, Calif., defeats 31-year-old David Molina (0-1, PKB: 6, 156 lbs., 5’10” tall) trained by Abel Jimenez of San Diego, Calif. wins by a unanimous decision. 

From the start, Denis Pradham (red headgear) went after his opponent David Molina with these high knees to both the midsection and chest. He was relentless.

David Molina (left) and Denis Pradhan (right) await the judge’s scores with veteran referee George Valdez.

At the conclusion of his bout versus David Molina, Denis Pradhan, trophy in hand, poses for additional photos with referee George Valdez and the lovely ring card girls.

Everybody and their brother wanted a photo with Denis Pradhan. (l to r) Official George Valdez, USA Boxing President Hondo Fontane, Pradhan and Pradhan’s proud coach Kru Caine Gayle.

Edwin Santiago Rivon (1-0, 171 lbs., 5’8″ tall) trained by Jason Childers of Pomona, Calif., defeats 23-year-old Pearse Early of Carlsbad, Calif., 0-1, 170.2 lbs., 5’8″ tall by a Unanimous Decision. Early is trained by Jessie Magusen at The Boxing Club, La Jolla, Calif. Scorecards read: Judge Luis Cobian 29-28; Judge Jim Vanover 29-28; and Judge George Valdez 29-28 all for Rivon.

In round one, Pearse Early was in complete charge. Then came this unfortunate stoppage after he hit his opponent Edwin Santiago Rivon below the belt. The photo on the right shows Early waiting in a neutral corner for his opponent to recover. Early continued his dominance in Round two but let up in round three.

From the head down and dejected look, you could see Edwin Santiago Rivon (l) was not counting on gaining the victory over tough guy Pearse Early (r). 

When it was announced that Edwin Santiago Rivon had won, you could see there were more than a few non-believers in the crowd.

Ismail Zizi  from the UFC gym in Mission Valley, San Diego, Calif., 3-1, 147 lbs., 5’8″ tall and trained by Jhanex Alviz gets the win by a Unanimous Decision over 30-year-old Joseph Silva from Los Angeles, Calif., 1-2, 144 lbs., 5’8″ tall who is trained by Jared Eigou. Scorecards read: Judge Luis Cobian 30-26, Judge Jim Vanover 29-27, and Judge George Valdez 30-26 all for Zizi. Whatever Silva dished out, the indestructible Zizi walked right through it.

At the conclusion of their fight, we see veteran referee Vichai Supkitpol raising the arm of the victorious Ismail Zizi from the UFC gym in San Diego’s Mission Valley.

After his destruction of Jose Silva, the victorious Ismail Zizi (c) from the UFC gym in Mission Valley proudly stands between his two coaches and the lovely ring card gals.

Michelle Chan 1-1-1, 122 lbs., 5’3″ tall and trained by Jessie Magusen of the Boxing Club, LaJolla, Calif. gets the win over 24-year-old Carolina Reyes Moreno from Lakeside, Calif., 0-1, 120.8 lbs., 5’4″ tall who is trained by Zac Shepard at the brand new Premier Fight and Fitness gym in Spring Valley, Calif. 

The scorecards from this unanimous decision victory: Judge Luis Cobian 29-28, Judge Jim Vanover 29-28 and Judge Vichai Supkitpol 29-28 all for the victorious Michelle Chan shown here having her arm raised by veteran referee George Valdez.

Brandon Kurosawa of San Diego, Calif., 1-0-1, 146.8 lbs., 5’9″ tall and trained by Jessie Magusen of The Boxing Club, La Jolla, Calif. defeats 28-year-old Yuta Wakao (5’2″ tall, 0-1, 142.2 lbs.) trained by Abel Jimenez of San Diego, Calif. by knockout at :37 mark of round 2.

One of the most memorable moments in this bout was when Brandon Kurosawa walloped Yuta Wakao in the head and to everyone’s surprise Wakao’s head gear when flying across the ring. Fortunately for Mr. Wakao, his head was not in that head gear.

At the conclusion of their exciting bout, the courageous Yuta Wakao (blue trunks) vowed that he will be returning for a rematch.

At the conclusion of their contest, Wakao was issued a 30-day no training and 30 days no-Competition Medical Suspension until July 25, 2017. Scorecards prior to the stoppage: Judge Luis Cobian had it 10-8 for Kurosawa; Judge Jim Vanover had it 10-8 for Kurosawa and Judge Vichai Supkitpol had it 10-8 for Kurosawa.

Mark Mooney Gracia from Fontana, Calif., record 4-3, 130 lbs., 5’9″ tall and trained by Robert Farabaugh wins a split decision victory over 25-year-old Kevin Kyburz from Covina, Calif., record 3-5-1/1, 130.8 lbs., 5’6″ tall, who is trained by Jason Childress. Scorecards read, Judge Luis Cobian 29-28 – Kyburz; Judge: Jim Vanover 29-28 – Gracia and Judge George Valdez 29-28 – Gracia.

Bout #7 featured the intense Mark Gracia (above) from Fontana, Calif. pitted against the very competitive Kevin Kyburz from Covina, Calif.

After Kevin Kyburz got the best of Mark Gracia in round two and round three became somewhat of a toss-up, the facial expressions on Gracia’s face ran the gamut from complete dread to excruciating angst to finally being wildly pleased.

5 Round Promotional Title Fight
25-year-old showman 
Felipe Aparicio (6-1-1, 120.6 lbs., 5’4″ tall, with Erik Alignay and Zac Savage in his corner, defeated 29-year-old Jason Belangoy (San Diego, Calif., record 3-2, 121.8 lbs., 5’5″ tall who is trained by Jhanex Alviz at the UFC Gym in San Diego’s Mission Valley. Scorecards read Judge Luis Cobian 50-45; Judge Jim Vanover: 50-45; Judge George Valdez 50-45 all for Mr. Aparicio who would not be denied.

Felipe Aparicio looks down at the ring before hopping over the ropes. 

In the above photos, we see Jason Belangoy (l) appearing to be going over his game plan while his opponent Felipe Aparicio continued his ritual walk/dance around the ring. Depending on the fighter’s intent it’s either a ram muay (which serves to honor the fighter’s supporters and his God) or wai kru referring to the homage the fighter pays to his kru or trainer. You usually see both fighters walking around the ring with one arm on the top of the rope to seal out the bad spirits, pausing at each corner to say a short prayer. They then kneel in the center of the ring to face the direction of their birth and go through a set of specific movements which to a layman appear to be stretching exercises. Unlike Belangoy, Aparicio wore several good luck charms to the ring which included two colorful, ribbon armbands (kruang rang). Throughout the contest, you could see both fighters were attempting to establish the upper hand, both physically and mentally, in this classic contest of wills.

This was one of the most dramatic sequences in their fight as both young men tumbled like ragdolls to the not so soft canvas.

Even after their exciting fight had come to an end, from the looks on their faces neither fighter was 100% sure of victory. Even after landing more kicks and punches, the look on Felipe Aparicio’s face did not suggest the fight was in the bag.

Finally, the scores were read and the decision was announced. You could see the genuine relief in Felipe Aparicio’s face.

Job well-done! After the ring announcer’s announcement, we see veteran referee Vichai Supkitpol raising the arm of the victorious Felipe Aparicio from Steel MMA.

As a follow-up, this website would like to praise the altruistic efforts of the La Jolla Boxing Club under the leadership of its CEO, Russian-born Artem Sharoshkin who like Maania Hopper is a fighter who just so happens to be a former XAMTC and IAMTF Welterweight Champion. Sharoshkin’s heavy leg kicks and powerful knockout-inducing head kicks earned him the nickname “The Russian Experiment.” Both of these individuals remain great motivators for us all. 

In these days, the critiquing of a charity can be tricky business, unless a donor knows some organizational facts and then uses firm guidelines. A legitimate charity should be an open book 1) that offers you, the donor, steps to being an informed giver so you can be proactive in your giving, 2) it should be a charity that’s both accountable and transparent, never secretive, 3) it should be a charity that can show you results, their impact and 4) it should offer you different ways of giving, restricted ways, so you can follow your investment. When Artem Sharoshkin told this reporter: “100% of the proceeds from this show are going to this charity” – he meant it. That makes the Boxing Club’s donation even more substantial when you consider all of the expenses they incurred – the two sanctioning fees, the chair and table rentals, the 13 trophies and 13 medals, the cost to have the emergency crew on standby, etc., etc. The Boxing Club cover almost all of the expenses so that the proceeds from the gate and silent auction could go untouched.

Best of buddies Artem Sharoshkin and Kru Caine Gayle can handle any problem.

Established in 1999, The Boxing Club on Genesee Ave. in the University Town Center has now been at the same location going on 18 years. In 2014, the gym, under new ownership, renovated the facility, optimized the fitness programs and brought customer service into focus. Their welcoming atmosphere and meticulous regard for cleanliness appear unmatched. From their website comes the mantra: At The Boxing Club, our commitment is reflected in everything we do – from keeping class sizes comfortable for personal attention to learning more about our clients so we can help them achieve their goals faster and more effectively. As far as recognizable names they have coaches/ex-fighters like Shannon Gugerty, Kru Caine Gayle, Glenn Salud, Jesse Magusen, Ron Casper plus a list of wonderful instructors like Beany Galletta Chalfant, Jessica Lopez, Elizabeth Morgan, Katie Murai, Paige Torres, Paulette Madden, Daniel Favela, Brian Blake, Bret Martineau, Tony Fausto and Raul Reyes which keeps growing like one big happy family. They’re all gaining quite a reputation. 

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