Young amateurs making their mark!
Twelve-year-old Dominic Serna Jr. and his younger brother Blane, age 9, are two Southland talents competing in the thriving ranks of amateur boxing. Thousands of boys and girls just like these bomb-throwing siblings have dreams of making the Olympics or going pro.
To reach that goal, time must be put in to gain valuable experience inside the squared circle. The boys have traveled all over the U.S. competing in shows and tournaments while continuing to make a name for themselves. TODAY Dominic Jr., also known as “Little D” will be fighting in the famed 10th Annual Desert Showdown at Spotlight 29 in Coachella. This year’s prestigious tournament features three rings and reportedly over 1,100 combatants battling for pound-for-pound supremacy in legendary competition founded by Ralph Romero.
I caught up with Team Serna as they were taking a break before the bouts in the Spotlight Showroom began.
The Sernas are a true boxing family, one truly dedicated to the sweet science. The Serna couple transplanted the whole family moving from Arizona to California to work toward making the kids’ fistic dreams a reality. Father Dominic Serna Sr. is a professional boxing photographer who covers many pro fights and together with wife Michelle watches over their brood of eight children. Yes, eight mouths to feed, bathe, get to sleep, get to school, and more. Michelle can definitely be classified as a “championship mom” with their youngest, little AJ, is just a few months old.
Sons Little D will be entering the eighth grade while Blane will be a fourth-grader; both balance the books with boxing. Their father sets an example for them as he attends classes at the College of the Desert while working and shooting in the ring too.
His kids train with pro boxer Antonio “Toño” Diaz out of the Indio Boys & Girls Club. The former champ uses innovative training in taking advantage of the air and climate and vast landscape of the Coachella Valley. The youth are often taken on 12 mile hikes to increase their strength, cardio and stamina while battling those hot desert temps.
Now comes another test of competing in the ring as Little D, will turn 13 in September, looks to add another win to his record. He’s competing in the 95-pound division and his mom tells me he now has over 50 bouts under his belt. Nine-year-old Blane (called “El Natural) tops the scales at 50 pounds and has a dozen bouts in his passbook. At the Desert Showdown weigh-ins this week, as it happens in the amateurs Blane didn’t get a matchup in the brackets so he’ll wait to compete in next month’s Ringside tournament.
But he’ll be cheering on his older bro in tonight’s bouts. Dominic Jr. is scheduled in Bout 25. After dominating at 75 pounds, Little D eventually moved up his current success at 95 pounds.
“Last summer he was fighting at 75 so he’s jumped up big,” his family laughs. “He had a growth spurt–he stretched and really grew!”
Should he win today, the youngster will compete in this weekend’s championship finals. Joining hundreds upon hundreds of the best in boxing, the young guns will be blazing in the over-100 degree climate.
While the littlest warriors already have nerves of steel, mama Michelle admits to having some “butterflies,” normal for any mom watching their child hit–and possibly get hit–in the ring. Chatting about tonight’s matches, their mom admitted, “I’m really excited–and just a little nervous.” As the afternoon’s bouts get underway, I can hear the bells ring and the crowd in the arena cheering. “I never used to get nervous,” Michelle says as she waits for her son’s bout. “But the older he gets, the more nervous I get!”
I run into the family at both pro and amateur fights and I see their patience, enthusiasm and dedication in supporting the boys’ aspirations in the sport. I asked Michelle how she feels about the kids boxing and juggles it all with such a large Serna bunch to oversee.
“I am just so proud of all the Serna boys. I am always proud of all my kids,” the pretty brunette relays to me. “We always tell them to go in there and have fun. And the balancing part? I don’t really know how to explain it! We just do it daily–and take one day at a time.”
With eight kids (Dominic Jr., Samuel, Dominique, Blane, Bryanna, Sadie, SallyJo and baby Antonio), boxing’s “OctoMom” and her husband have plenty of future “spares” if they need more boxers to join the ranks. I ask the camp if they’re planning on having any more Serna champs.
“Eight is enough!” the pair agrees with a laugh.
And other than Little D and Blane, do any of their other kids box?
“Only two of them box right now,” Michelle explains. “Sam, my other boy, tried it but he likes football better.”
The entire Serna crew supports the little sluggers whenever they compete. The hard-swinging Mexican-American family is a familiar face at many local shows. So far they have won many gold medals, belts, titles and trophies along the way including the Blue and Gold, Junior Olympics, Silver Gloves with Dominic Jr. being awarded “Best Boxer.”
Little D loves climbing into the ring. “I feel great about winning and I feel very honored to recieve the ‘Best Boxer,'” the pre-teen told me after winning his last award. “I trained very hard to win this year and I will keep training hard! I love to be in the ring and traveling, and I love all the excitement from the crowd!” Attending many SoCal pro shows, the boys are already used to rubbing elbows and touching gloves with famous pugs in the game.
And their trainer is former world champion Antonio Diaz (46-6-1, 29 KOs) who knows what it’s like to be in the spotlight. Dominic Sr. and Michelle’s newest addition, baby Antonio Jovanny (“AJ”) may be “born to box.” He was even named after their kids’ coach, who himself will be fighting again on August 12 at nearby Fantasy Springs Casino and Resort. Diaz will be facing Ernesto “Baby” Zepeda. His brothers include trainer Joel and fighter Julio “The Kidd” Diaz. The Diaz clan have provided a template of a family that boxers and works alongside each other while also providing mentorship and guidance for the young Serna boys.
Invaluable experience says Dominic Jr. and Blane’s mother. “I really thank Antonio Diaz, Jose Rodriguez and Sabas Rosas, for being in my sons’ corners,” nods Michelle. “I really have got to give credit to ALL of their coaches!”
Brothers Dominic Serna Jr. and Blane Serna are a dynamite duo who plan on staying in the fight game for along time. At ages 9 and 12, the next decade will tell the test of time for these power-punching youngsters. But with youth on their side, the Sernas’ dedication, discipline and firm commitment to the sport should prove to be the key in their hopes of going pro.
“Yes, that’s what they’re talking about,” their parents say. “They’re determined!”
Keep on eye on these two “Bash Bros” as the set their sights on a career in prizefighting.
Photos by Dominic Serna Sr.
2011 Desert Showdown
Spotlight 29 Casino
Adults 8.00/ Children 4.00
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