WEST COAST BOXING’S FIRST LOOK AT OUR FUTURE STARS
EDDIE HEREDIA’S GYM
Monica Ramirez/Natalie Talmontes
Robert Lopez/Sergio Cruz/Antonio Alfaro-(Wild Card Gym)
Ponce DeLeon-Boxing Don Dinkins
Ponce DeLeon/Carlos Maldonado/Coach
Francsico Santos (Sal’s Gym)
Ruben Martinez (East LA CYC)
Byron Ramirez/George Rodriguez
MM: I used to always watch wrestling and my dad kept saying “aw, that’s fake” so he started me watching boxing on tv and I liked the way they would move and not get hit a lot and I just liked it and wanted to try it, and kept begging my dad to let me try it.
WCB: I know you’ve seen kids street fighting and now, that you’re in the gym getting some real training, what’s the difference?
MM: Well, in the gym, they don’t let you see what they’re doing, when they throw punches but in the street, they square up and swing wild and you can see their punches coming.
WCB: Do many of your friends know you box…
MM: No, I keep it a secret because if they know you box, they’ll wanna’ start stuff and I’ll end up getting in trouble.
WCB: So far, what’s the toughest part of your training?
MM: Running, we do a lotta’ wind sprints. Our coach tells us not to run long distances because when you fight, it’s done in spurts.
WCB: How many matches have you had? And how did things differ from your first to your last fight?
MM: I’ve had five fights and I was really nervous in my first one and in the first couple of rounds I didn’t throw enough punches, then I got used to how he fought and I started coming on.
WCB: Now once you’ve been training and sparring a lot and you learn that what you’ve been taught really works, are you a lot more relaxed in the fights.
WCB: And how’s your stamina?
MM: Well, I’ve been working on it, I used to be in here running a lot, then my trainer took a little break and I got a little lazy and I felt it in me last fight, so now I have to get back on it.
WCB: Okay, you guys, it was good talking to you and we’ll be checking you guys out as you go along, keep up the good work.
TAI (TAIF) HARRIS
Tai (Taif) Harris is not a kid. He’s one of the older members of this mixed- variety gym run by Roman Santos and ex boxer that was pretty impressive on the tapes he showed me. With his style and demeanor, his ‘pupils’ seem to be in good hands. At 29, Harris is somewhat of a late starter, but he’s spent many years in various gyms and Roman seems pretty high on his future.
WCB: So, what’s with the late start, Mr. Harris?
TH: Well, I was born in Inglewood, and the first guy I trained with was a former Golden Gloves champion from Inglewood, named Steven Laws. I remember when I was just two years old sitting in my daddy’s lap and he was just boxing with me and I hit him and busted his lip. I was always in love with boxing and when I was seventeen, I started training with Steven in his garage. I also trained with Odell Hadley, he showed me some cold stuff and I met PJ Goosen and he showed me some stuff. I trained on and off from seventeen to twenty-nine, and then had my first amateur fight.
WCB: Really? Man, what took you so long?
TH: Working mainly, I really moved around a lot. I trained with PJ (Goosen) in North Hollywood and with Hadley when he came out here.
WCB: Did you work with his son, too?
TH: I didn’t even know there were two Odells.
WCB: Oh, yeah, the dad trained heavyweight Tony Tubbs, his son was a pretty slick middleweight.
TH: Then I moved to San Diego and trained with Sergio Melendez, he trained Chris Martin…
WCB: Oh yeah, I know Chris Martin, he beat Chris Avalos and he just won a fight at the Doubletree Hotel just about a month ago. They had a guy named Titi Ruiz, I got with their team and that’s who I had my first fight with. They had some good guys down there. Man, my first fight was with a Marine and I beat him and I didn’t have no footwork. I fought in that Adidas Tournament in Oxnard. Since I’ve been here, I’ve learned a lot, no disrespect to any of the other coaches. But now, my footwork is better and I just need to work on throwing more punches, but now, I feel I’m just about ready.
WCB: Now, speaking with my coach’s hat on, you don’t have any time to waste, none…
TH: No sir, no sir. When I turn pro, I’d like to fight at ’47 and right now, I’m about 154.
WCB: So about when do you expect to have your first pro fight?
TH: By the end of this year, no later than that
WCB: How would you describe your style?
TH: Well, I punch pretty solid; I like to get my respect early. People say I have a pro style. I still need to work on throwing more punches.
WCB: It sounds like you’re in a good spot and I’m sure your coach is gonna’ see that you get the right sparring, maybe take t the Wild Card, they have some serious stuff goin’ on down there.
WCB: Yeah, I wanna check out those brothers, man.
WCB: Al right, good talkin to you man and good luck in your career.
TH: Thanks a lot, coach.
8/20/13 WCB was back on the trail, stopping in to check on the kids at SANTOS BOXING GYM in E. Lancaster Ca. Roman Santos who runs the program is an ex boxer that was once trained by Floyd Mayweather sr, but ,more on Roman later.
WCB: Let’s start with a background on you, young lady.
TM: Well, I go to Quartz Hill and I started coming here because my brother came before me and I saw it looked like fun and I saw that the skill and technique was interesting, and I don’t play anything else.
WCB: You’re not involved in anything else at sports….
TM: No, because I’m a freshman.
WCB: So, what intrigued you about the program here?
TM: Probably, the coach, he seemed nice and the kids were friendly and it seemed like a good workout.
WCB: Are your long range plans to compete do you just wanna’ learn the fundamentals?
TM: Yeah, later on I wanna’ compete but for now, I just wanna’ learn.
WCB: Have you been to any shows and seen girls competing?
TM: Oh yeah….
WCB: Some of them are pretty good…
TM: (laughing), oh yeah.
WCB: What’s a normal day like for you in the gym?
TM: I stretch first, hit the bags, shadow box, and jump rope, do sit-ups, and do wind sprints that are it.
WCB: And what about away from the gym, do you have a special diet or anything?
TM: No, I don’t have to; I have a fast metabolism, so I don’t do much away from the gym.
WCB: And how do your parents feel about their daughter boxing?
TM: My mom’s fine with it and my dad’s fine with it. At first she didn’t want me to compete, but she saw how much I liked it and how good I was, so she’s fine with it and like I said, I was a bit of a tomboy, anyway. So now, she’s fine with everything.
WCB: Do many of your friends know you box, are you out there shadow boxing?
TM: No, (laughing), I don’t want them saying oh, she boxes; I just keep it a secret.
WCB: If they find out, let them find out the hard way, like in the gym, hunh?
WCB: Are you and your brother pretty competitive against each other in the gym?
TM: Yeah, we workout together and encourage each other.
WCB: Now, all fighters have at least one activity they don’t like so much, what’s yours?
TM: I’d say pushups.
Tyche informed WCB that she’s looking forward to winning her first trophy and when asked how she feels when her brother’s competing and she said, “I just wanna’ get up there and punch the guy that’s hitting him”.
AV BOXING GYM PALMDALE, CA. INTERVIEWS/PICS JULY 3, 2013
SAMMY CONTRERAS – GETTING AN EARLY START
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May 24, 2013, Palmdale, Ca. – Little ten-year old Sammy Contreras is getting an early start on his boxing career and he has some outstanding teammates to learn from in Kid Dynamite and Speedy Gonzales, as well as an outstanding coaching staff, lead by Byron Martinez.
WCB: I remember when you first started, you were a, if you don’t mind my saying, a chubby little guy…
SC: Yeah, I was.
WCB: Now you’re lean and mean, so you must be working hard. How are you feeling about your career?
SC: I’m feeling that I’m good and when I started boxing I was really chubby and when I trained and trained, I lost the weight and I’ve had two fights already. I won the first one and the second one, they robbed it. Sometimes they rob fights but I just keep trying and trying.
WCB: Yeah, all you can do is the fighting part and just like in life, you don’t always get what you deserve.
SC: Yeah. The first kid I fought was really good and it was a good fight, I was glad I won.
WCB: How nervous were you for your first fight.
SC: I wasn’t even nervous because I’ve seen Cesar and Nathan do all their fights and they don’t get nervous, so when I went into the ring, I wasn’t nervous.
WCB: Did you know you’d won the first fight?
SC: Yeah, because, in the last round, I really went at it and kept throwing punches right to the bell and I had my style and everything and I knew I won. When I got the belt, I was nervous that I had won, but I was glad to get it.
WCB: Do the punches feel any different in sparring than the fight?
WCB: I don’t really feel the punches when I’m fighting. I just use my power and if I don’t hurt ‘em, I just throw a lotta’ punches the whole round. I only got tired once because I thought I was gonna’ fight three rounds but we fought four.
WCB: How does your mom feel about her little boy getting punched?
SC: well, she just tells me to do my best but when I get hit hard, she yells and when I come home with a Black eye, she gets grossed out.
WCB: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
SC: Yeah, I have a two year old brother and a sister. Sometimes I spar with her and I just cover up and work my defense.
WCB: I’ve seen you spar with a girl in the gym, what does it feel like to spar with her?
SC: My coaches tell me not to hit her hard, just block her punches and if she hits me, I have to stay disciplined and work my defense.
WCB: Well, that’s all I have ‘til next time, are you fighting in Riverside or are you to young…
SC: No, I’m fighting there
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INTRODUCING: NATHAN (SPEEDY) GONZALES
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May 24, 2013-Palmdale, Ca. – I wouldn’t advise anyone to misread this young boxer, with the “nerdy” glasses (his words, not mine, I call them “intellectual”) In addition to the “nerdy” glasses, Speedy had to make two trips to his parent’s car to haul in all his hardware. He’s 14 years old with over 60 fights and has already won over a dozen belts, ribbons and medals. His stable mate, Cesar (Kid Dynamite) Diaz is also owner of a lotta’ hardware, but only brought three in today. I learned later, he sorta’ likes being a bit deceptive in his ‘look’. He’d just completed 4 rounds of sparring in the hot, bustling AV Boxing Gym and was ready to give WCB the rundown on the ‘little guy in the glasses’.
NG: I’m 14 and I go to Jessie Willard Middle School. I started boxing about 4 or 5 years ago, after my older brother started. I liked seeing him box and train and I decided I wanted to try it, too. He won all 10 of his fights, but then he quit, but I liked it so much, I just kept going, I don’t know, when I’m in the ring, I just feel free.
WCB: What about at school, do the guys mess s with you since they know you box….
NG: No, they don’t even know I box, I don’t tell anybody I box. But a couple of my friends box, so the kids don’t start anything, because they’d get in trouble.
NG: Are you involved in any other sports besides boxing?
WCB: When I was young, I played basketball, but since I started boxing, it’s been just boxing.
WCB: How much training did you have before your first fight? Well, I started at nine and had my first fight at ten. I was one of those kids that didn’t have a real trainer. Then one day I was sparring a kid from another gym and one of the coaches noticed me and picked me up. When I first started, to tell you the truth, it was kinda’ boring. For the first week they had me doing nothing but jabbing, then it was the one two, but now, I realize how important that was.
WCB: What are some of your biggest accomplishments so far?
NG: My biggest accomplishments so far, I’ve won five titles. I won the world amateur title, three national titles and one state championship.
WCB: Is it hard for you to get fights since you’ve accomplished so much?
WCB: Yeah, to tell the truth, we don’t go to the little shows because they know me and they don’t wanna’ fight me.
WCB: Must be pretty frustrating….
NG: yeah, it is, but when I fight in a championship, it’s more exciting because there’s a lot at stake and there’s a lotta’ people cheering. See, I wear glasses and when I walk in they just kinda’ shrug me off, because I look all nerdy, but when we get in the ring, I just stop ‘em…
WCB: And then put your glasses back on….
NG: Yeah, like Superman (laughing).
WCB: But you do take a break sometime, right?
NG: Sometimes I just don’t feel like training, but when I here, after my workout, I feel good and after I finish a tournament, my coach gives me a week off, but after a while I get bored and wanna’ get back in the gym.
WCB: How far have you traveled for a fight?
NG: So far, I’ve been to Las Vegas.
WCB: Well, I’m sure you’ll be going a lot farther as you get older and win more tournaments and we’ll be expecting great things from you, and West Coast Boxing will be watching.
NG: OK, thank you Don.
WCB: Our pleasure, young man and keep it goin’.
INTRODUCING—CESAR DIAZ KID DYNAMITE-FUTURE OLYMPIAN
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May 24, 2013, Palmdale, Ca. West Coast Boxing made a visit to the AV (Antelope Valley) Boxing Club yesterday to check some of the many hot prospects working out there. Hervi Estrada, matchmaker runs the gym and as usual, there was plenty of activity taking place. From some promising future Olympic hotshots to a pair of promising twins prepping for their pro debuts. One extremely talented youngster, 15 year old Cesar (KD) Diaz, seems to have ‘the right stuff’.
WCB: How did the nickname ‘KD’ come about?
CD: KD stands for ‘Kid Dynamite’
WCB: I’ve been watching you for quite a while now, and I’m amazed at the amount of aggression and drive you show, at such a young age, did someone steal your bike as a kid, or something?
CD: No, it’s just all the hard training that I have and the discipline, it just all adds up to the way I am in there.
WCB: How did all start for KD?
CD: Well, my father wanted me to get involved in sports and asked if I wanted to do Tai-Kwan Do or boxing and I chose boxing. I’d always watched Oscar DeLaHoya fight and I liked his style.
WCB: I see when you’re sparring, you switch up a lot and you’re very good at it, when did that start?
CD: My coach wanted me to try it because it confuses the other fighter, so I kinda’ stick to it.
WCB: I had fighters that used to try it and as soon as they got hit, or missed a punch, they’d get discouraged and switch back. I tried to get them to stay with it for the whole round. Was that a problem for you?
CD: Well, it was a little hard at first but then I would do it for a whole round and then I got used to it.
WCB: You’re kinda’ tall for your weight as well as your age (he’s about 5’10) and fights in the lb division. Is your height a big advantage for you?
CD: Yeah, I can keep them on the outside of my punches and it’s easy to fight short people.
WCB: When you do switch up, what triggers it?
CD: Well, when I see I’m making them make a lotta’ mistakes with their punches, I think can overpower them even more by switching.
WCB: Was it hard for you starting out…
CD: I lost my first fight in a tournament and after that, I just started winning and winning.
WCB: Your first fight was in a tournament?
CD: Yeah, I was fighting at Grace’s Boxing Gym then, but I had a lotta’ sparring and I won my first belt in my seventh fight.
WCB: When did you start thinking, “I’m pretty good at this”?
CD: When I started winning and winning, I thought that.
WCB: Do you get a kick outta’ all the attention you’re receiving after winning so many tournaments and belts?
CD: Yeah, a lotta’ kids were saying that, it’s a good feeling.
WCB: So, do you feel you’re on a good pace as far as your experience is concerned, to make it to the Olympics?
CD: Yeah, I think I am, but I still have a lotta’ stuff to work on, but yeah.
WCB: How did you hook up with Byron (Martinez, his trainer)?
CD: Well, my dad got into a little fight with my coach and we met Byron at the gym in Little Rock (Jackie Robinson) and that’s where we met Byron and my dad talked to him about training me and so that’s how it started. And we clicked right away. He knows my style and it makes a good fit.
WCB: What about burnout, you fight a lot; do you ever get tired and just want some time off?
AD: I never get tired of boxing, I’m just a humble person, I don’t talk that much like a lotta’ guys. I just know they can’t overpower me in the ring, so I don’t worry about what a person says.
Indeed, KID DYNAMITE is a very humble young kid and all the time I’ve been watching him in the gym he’s polite, greets everyone in the gym and then, it’s work, work, and more work and he doesn’t seem like it’s really a chore for him, as I said from the top, this kid ‘has the right stuff’.
CASILLAS BOXING CLUB – ANTHONY SANCHEZ, AGE 15, 42 AMATEUR FIGHTS. MAY 11, 2013
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One of the most promising you future stars at Casilla’s Boxing gym, is Anthony Sanchez.
AS: When I was a kid, my dad (Gabriel) and I would always watch the fights, and he said if I like it “you should get involved in it”, so we started out first at a gym in Long Beach, but that was more of a weight-loss gym. While we were there, we’d go to Bell Garden’s Gym to spar and that’s where I met Sal, he was working there at that time.
WCB: When you first started were you interested mainly in the fundamentals or did you know you wanted to box?
AS: Well, I guess for the fundamentals at first, but then I just fell in love with it. I had my first fight when I was 10.
WCB: When I was coaching, I always got a kick outta’ my kids’ buddies wanting to challenge them to “see what they were workin’ with”, did you ever run into that…
AS: A few times, a few times (laughing), but I put ‘em in check.
WCB: What school do you go to?
AC: I go to Wilson, I’m in 9th grade.
WCB: What are your future goals in boxing?
AS: Hopefully, I’ll make the 2020 Olympics and then turn pro when I’m 23.
WCB: What have been your biggest achievements in boxing so far?
AS: I’ve won the Desert Storm tournaments a few times, so far. We’re looking to go to the state championships next month in Menifee.
WCB: How much traveling have you done so far?
AS: Arizona, and Nevada, we fought there.
WCB: How do your parents feel about your boxing?
AS: Well, my father supports me in everything I do; he brings me to the gym everyday. He makes sure I get to wherever I have to go to fight and my mom, she supports me too, and she goes to my fights. I have a little brother and he’ll start training in a couple of years.