Fighter Joins Danny Hernandez at Fundraiser
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They say you can take the boy out of L.A. but you can’t take L.A. out of the boy.
Such is the case of former fighter Adrian Arreola (34-17, 17 KOs), a popular fixture in the boxing landscape of Los Angeles in the ’80s and early ’90s.
I caught up with the ex-featherweight contender at Thursday’s special event (A Farewell to L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley) presented by President and Founder Daniel L. Hernandez’s Hollenbeck Youth Center and Inner-City Games L.A. (ICGLA). The legendary gym of Hollenbeck is where Oscar De La Hoya got his start.
Through the decades, the gym has kept its doors open, available to the neighborhood kids and teens, free of charge. And it’s current head boxing coach is none other than Adrian Arreola.
The slugger, who retired in 1992, is known for beating Lupe Pintor, with Arreola winning by a TKO at the famed Olympic Auditorium back in 1985. These days, Arreola plies his trade at a local car dealership while training future champs at the Hollenbeck Boxing Gym in Boyle Heights.
And his dedication for the sport has paid off. Arreola will be inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame on October 20. The famed organization’s Don Fraser and Rick Farris chose Adrian as part of the Class of 2012′s inductees.
And his compadres at Hollenbeck and ICGLA plan on being there in support.
Adrian knows what it’s like to grow up on the mean streets in and around East L.A. and he continues to give back to the community. At the farewell bash for Steve Cooley, which was well attended by the Hollenbeck Police Business Council, city officials and local luminaries, Arreola was surrounded by family members including his brother Jose “Ugly” Arreola. Jose is a former amateur champion and currently a co-trainer at the Hollenbeck gym.
During the luncheon, held at Steven’s Steak House in Commerce, the Arreola family joined a lively crowd in attendance, all paying tribute to District Attorney Cooley, who has spent over 40 years of service in the L.A. community and will be retiring at the end of the year. The D.A. has worked tirelessly with Danny Hernandez to build a bond through the community, helping to keep the youth off the streets and crime in check.
Hollenbeck started their very first boxing team over 40 years ago and has seen the sport grow since its inception at the gym. In 1992, the organization began their Inner-City Games LA program. Former heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield began his own Inner-City Games Atlanta after seeing L.A.’s successful run.
Former featherweight Arreola says he enjoys working with the youth at the boxing gym.
Dany Tecum is one young man who boxed as a youth and is now a student who has stayed away from drugs and gangs, thanks in part to the Hollenbeck Youth Center. Tecum browsed the rows of sports memorabilia, set up as a fundraising opportunity for the nonprofit. He said boxing taught him discipline and both mental and physical toughness to survive.
While checking out the items at the silent auction, I saw plenty of boxing souvenirs up for bid including Muhammad Ali and Oscar De Hoya photos, signed boxing gloves and even an autographed shoe signed by the “Golden Boy” himself, Oscar De La Hoya (who got his start at the Hollenbeck Youth Center’s gym).
As the event got underway, many guests spoke of how kids just like Tecum learn and grow through assistance from the nonprofit organization. Speaking on the VIP dais, the day’s emcee Bob Archuleta (Mayor of Pico Rivera) praised Cooley and Hernandez for their dedication in helping the children and teens in the city.
Co-Chair Priscilla Hernandez spoke of the exciting new building renovations that will benefit the community. Through Hollenbeck and ICGLA, the youth are offered a safe haven with sports and educational activities, where kids around the country have a “home away from home,” which also helps keep the crime rate down.
Joining the future Hall of Fame fighter Adrian Arreola, Danny Hernandez, Nati Correa and more were several familiar faces in the community including Chief of Police Charlie Beck, singer Little Willie G. (Thee Midniters), Co-Chairs Priscilla Hernandez, George Castello, Serena Murillo, Javier Perez and Steve Lopez, Judge Scott Millington, Big 5′s Rick Gridley, among others. Danny, his wife Bea, and daughter Priscilla are well known in Boyle Heights and beyond for their years-long association with Hollenbeck and ICGLA.
Boxer Arreola raves about the hard work and dedication put forth by the whole Hernandez family. LAPD Chief of Police Beck called Danny a “force and a leader” in shaping the lives of the area’s youth.
And Adrian helps channel their energy by showing them the skills and discipline of the sweet science.
Hernandez’s motto is “All kids are a lifetime investment” and in training the youth at the Hollenbeck Boxing Gym, Adrian Arreola helps the underprivileged youth and at-risk kids take one day at a time–one punch at a time.
Photos by Michele Chong
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