Young fighter following his dream inside the ring
El Centro native Richard Reyes, 15, (right) trains on his mitt work during a practice at the PAL Ryerson Youth Center on Monday in El Centro. (FERNANDO ACOSTA JR. PHOTO / March 26, 2012)
Reyes recently won the 125-pound division at the Buscando un Idolo – Guerra de Colonias in Mexicali, fighting once a week for four consecutive weeks in February. The tournament was a tough one for Reyes, who was facing opponents anywhere from two to five years his elder.
“Some of those guys were 20-years-old,” Reyes said. “In the first round I’d get pretty nervous and kind of feel them out but then in rounds two and three I’d give it all I had and use my speed and footwork to beat them.”
The Central Union High School freshman has the discipline needed to succeed in the sport and maintains a 3.2 grade-point average at school.
“His focus is outstanding,” said Felipe Carranza, a boxing trainer with the El Centro Police Athletic League. “He’s got to do well in school if he wants to come here and train and he does whatever has to be done. In the ring, his footwork is outstanding and he gets in there and completely frustrates people.”
Reyes said he’s had about 20 amateur fights and suffered only three losses. He knows the life of a boxer is a tough one, but it’s something he wants to pursue.
“I told my mom I had a dream that I was going to become a pro boxer and she told me to just go for the gold,” Reyes said. “Winning fights is great motivation, it keeps you going and keeps you training hard.”
Carranza, who is a railroad maintenance worker in Plaster City, has Reyes training four days a week for about three hours a day. He stresses to all the boxers training in the El Centro PAL gym that they have to be committed and treat their training like it’s a job, otherwise they will never get serious about the sport.
“I’ve been around boxing since age 5, so I’ve always liked the sport,” Carranza said. “I want to pass on what I was taught at an early age to these kids. I want them to make something of themselves and get out of the streets.”
The hardest part about boxing, according to Reyes, is the day after a fight.
“My body hurts so much I can barely walk,” Reyes said. “And I still had to go to school on Friday. My hands were hurting and my face hurt if I got hit a lot the night before. It’s tough.”