A “scary” good time had by all!
There were some “ghost and goblin” sightings this weekend in Pasadena as 40 fighters faced their foes at the Villa-Parke Boxing Show. Hosted by the Villa-Parke Community Center, it was a packed house as families all came out for the festive event. Scaring off any sign of fright, the only costume the fighters needed were boxing trunks. No mask necessary, just a mouthpiece at this annual Halloween event.
Both male and female boxers of all sizes and ages laced up at the USA Boxing-sanctioned show. The age range began at age nine and continued all the way up to age 57! Jesus Garcia, 51, went toe to toe against Jan Green, 57, in a special masters’ bout. Garcia, out of Casillas Boxing Club, bested his opponent in their scheduled three rounds of action.
There were plenty of spirited bouts taking place as the amateur boxers fought for the first-place trophy plus another win in their passbook. During an intermission, the young fighters even got a chance to “Trick-or-Treat” as Pasadena’s head coach Fausto De La Torre passed out goodie bags to the participants. The community center has had a long association with the sweet science and even have a bronze monument honoring blind boxing trainer Canto Robledo showcased in their lobby.
At the SoCal show were plenty of friendly faces from both amateur and pro boxing circles, including former fighters Sal Casillas, Joey “The Pasadena” Kid Olivera, cutman/trainer Tony Rivera, Coach Rodrigo Mosquera, trainer Anthony Sands, USA Boxing’s Dick Jones and Joe Zanders, President of the Southern California Association of USA Boxing. The guys at USA Boxing are happy to report that boxing is thriving in the Golden State. “We usually have about 110 shows a year,” Jones said to me as I took a look at the matchup board. “But this year,” he continued, “we’ll have over 130 shows by the time the year ends.”
During the day, Tony Rivera greeted Canto Robledo’s son, Joe, as they went to go check out the bronze wall relief saluting Joe’s father.
Coach Mosquera and cutman Rivera have had a busy two weeks. The duo were in the corner for up-and-coming featherweight Gary Russell Jr. who just fought to another victory at Club Nokia Thursday night and were also with another pro, Aalan Martinez, who just fought to a win on October 22 at Quiet Cannon. Mosquera, who trains his young charges at the Eddie Heredia Boxing Club, has both amateurs and pros in his stable. After some mitt work with his boxers, who were competing later that afternoon, Rodrigo says things are going well in the gym. “We also have Victor Pasillas and my son Anthony Mosquera (who’s fighting on the Andre Ward-Sakio Bika undercard in Oakland),” notes the coach.
In between bouts, I also caught up with a few of the dedicated officials at the show. After this Pasadena show, the judges and referees said they are getting ready for the next show beginning this week–the big Silver Gloves District Tournament that starts this Thursday. For many of them, these amateur shows are reunion of sorts as they reconnect with those whom they first met years ago.
Ray Chavez, who is a relative of the famed Fabela Chavez family, has been around boxing for decades. His son Michael was a very popular L.A. star who topped the amateur ranks. Now living and training in Vegas, look for Michael to return to the ring as he continues his pro career. Ray can be seen at many local shows at ringside as he keeps an eye on our future champs.
Another official at the show was Krysti Rosario. A former female champion of the ring, she had some exciting news to share with everyone. The young woman will be an official at the prestigious AIBA international boxing series that will be held next month in Ventura County, where several countries will be competing for bragging rights. This international competition will take place November 16-20 in Oxnard. A very talented boxer in her own right, Krysti remains a great role model for countless girls and women involved in boxing.
Joining us was Delilah Rico, another USA Boxing Official, who has also been involved in the sport for years. She can certainly be called a “championship” mom as her daughter Denise, 19, and son Damien, 15, are amateur standouts. Delilah used to work for Oscar De La Hoya; her two southpaw kids began to box after being around it through various “Golden Boy” events. Denise has traveled the world fighting. “She fought in Barbados recently and is ranked third in the nation,” her proud mom tells me. “Damien is in Tahiti right now with a boxing team and he is ranked fifth in the world.” Little sister, Desirae, does not box but can be seen cheering on her two siblings.
And I got to chat with another well-known boxing family, Stella and Don Livingston and their great nephew and niece, Andre and She’She, who were helping out at the show too. Their son, DonYil turned pro in May and is unbeaten at 2-0. The whole Livingston family (they are related to Andre Ward) has embraced boxing and the parents will continue to work in amateur boxing even though DonYil is now a pro. “DonYil has been boxing since he was 10,” Stella says of her middleweight son. “He had about 120 bouts; he traveled to 48 states while boxing.” The smiling Mrs. Livingston is called “Boxing Mom” by everyone around her. She has enjoyed watching young stars come up through the amateur circuit. “I knew Krysti when she was fighting,” Stella recalls as we watch Rosario officiating on the canvas. “I also watched Timmy Bradley come up, Andre Berto, Andre Dirrell and so many others.”
I asked the devoted boxing mom how the transition from amateur to pro has been. “At first, I was a little nervous with no headgear,” she admits. “For DonYil’s first fight, I was in Arkansas for the Golden Gloves so I would check my phone for updates. But I was there at his last fight in Ontario and it was great!” She also attributes boxing to giving her a healthy “high” in life. “I don’t drink; I don’t smoke,” the ebullient woman states. “But boxing…That’s where I get my ‘high’–I love it.” Watching the littlest sluggers square off, really giving it their all, it’s easy to see why the Livingstons continue to support the sport.
As the boxing matches continued, the large crowd settled in their seats as groups of kids played together in the gym. There were hundred of young children enjoying the day with their family, and that is exactly what Coach De La Torre and the Pasadena crew were all hoping for. Boxing, as a sport, can help keep the kids off the streets and can be used in a positive way to benefit the youngsters. Fausto introduced me to Rozanne Adanto, the Community Services Supervisor II, who was watching the fights with her cute little grandson. Looking up at the ring, she commented, “I think it’s a great sport; it’s an avenue to keep the kids off the streets. And this is a nice community event.” The Pasadena Boxing Club also hosted a boxing camp for kids this past summer. “The kids learned agility, endurance and discipline,” explains Rozanne. “The Pasadena Police Department were a big support in this community event and we even had the Chief of Police give the boxers recognition certificates.”
Boxing has long held its place in the City of Pasadena and from the looks of the full house at the weekend show, it’s here to stay. Check out some of the snapshots from the Villa-Parke Boxing Show where the crowd was treated to great time on All Hallows’ Eve.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN and see you at the fights!
Photos by Michele Chong