Pro Fighters Host Amateur Boxing Show
It’s really poppin’ at the Warzone Boxing Club in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. The gym has been a hotbed of action beginning last weekend as Team Franco and the Ventura KO Boxing Club held an amateur show for young boys and girls coming from Ventura County and the surrounding Inland Empire. The Warzone BC is having back-to-back events with the second show taking place THIS Saturday, February 18.
I stopped by last weekend’s show to catch up with the Francos and hear all about this new class of young amateurs learning their craft.
The youngsters and teens in the 11 bouts varied in size and experience, but all have Olympic dreams in their sights. Lacing up in amateur shows such as these provides them with the conditioning, discipline, skill and experience they will need in going further. And boxing also keeps many kids off the streets and away from drugs and gangs.
Two fighters that climbed up the amateur ranks who are now pros are Mike “Lil Warrior” Franco and Daniel “Twitch” Franco. Trained by their father, Al Franco, the brothers are also mentors and trainers to the children in their Warriors Combat Academy (WCA Gym). This is a true boxing family; at the show all pitched in with making sure everything ran smoothly. And at the end of the day, I saw Mike, Daniel, their parents Al and Teresa Franco and the whole team stacking chairs, rearranging heavybags and weights–even picking up trash while readying the gym for the next workout and show.
All are really looking forward to this Saturday’s bash with a scheduled 20 bouts. “We’ll have a lot of bouts, a lot of clubs from the area,” Al said. “I think it will be a great turnout!” The boxing coach has guided the careers of his pair of prizefighting sons along with their siblings, Nick and Vanessa. “Nick just joined the Army,” the proud papa tells me. “Now that’s a true warrior.”
Also in attendance at the show were two-time world champ Bobby “Schoolboy” Chacon, amateur stars (and the “Pride of Victorville”) Ryan Garcia and Sean Garcia, pro boxer Jonathan Arellano and “The Contender” cutman “Indian” Willie Schunke.
Former champ Bobby Chacon had a good time meeting the kids and cheering them on, remembering the days when he was their age. The youngest in the competition, ten-year-old Dominic Cordova made his debut in the 78-pound division. The boy won his bout and had a huge section rooting for him, all decked out in T-shirts bearing his likeness. And in the heavier ranks, Dajon Bryant, 19, fought in the 197 weight class and also scored a victory.
From 10 years old to age 33, all the sluggers at last Saturday’s show gave it their all. And that’s the name of the game in these amateur scraps.
It’s teaching the fighters discipline that they will hopefully carry on throughout their lives.
“It’s all about these kids,” cornerman and WCA trainer Bubba Lara. “We do whatever it takes, whatever has to be done–all for the kids.”
Coach Al Franco agrees. He trains both amateurs and pros in his thriving WCA Gym and Warzone Boxing Club. “We have almost 90 children in our amateur program,” the friendly trainer says during our chat. “It’s a good feeling to watch the kids train hard and compete. Not all will go on to compete but they’re still learning valuable skills.” Their gym is decorated with championship belts and posters from his two sons’ careers.
Team Franco is anticipated non-stop action this weekend in showcasing these new talents in the area.
One area trainer is really looking forward to the show. Veteran trainer Joe Esquivel will be bringing one of his pupils to compete. Arlene Martinez, 17, will be gloving up and looking for her fourth victory. Female boxing is on the rise especially with women’s boxing allowed in the 2012 London Olympics. The Riverside coach trains Arlene and her sister, Olivia, just 16. Both have already sparred pro Sindy Amador and both have been fighting since age eight. Esquivel raves about this punching pair who he says pack a lot of power.
“Arlene is is very powerful with a very hard left hook and Olivia has a powerful right hand,” Joe relays. “Olivia’s goal is to make the 2016 Olympics. And we’re really excited about Arlene’s fight this Saturday–I can’t wait for you to meet them!”
If you’d like to meet and see this new crop of young amateurs, be sure to come out to this February 18th show at the Warzone. And check out my exclusive photos from last weekend’s show. Hosting back-to-back events, the Franco camp showin’ their respect for the amateur kids–TOMORROW’S FUTURE CHAMPS!
(Warriors Combat Academy)
Warzone Boxing Club
Saturday, February 18
9445 Foothill Blvd.
Photos by Michele Chong