Boxing is a sport that you don’t see a great deal of anymore. Most of the premium matches are on premium television channels or must be purchased on a pay-per-view basis.
Yet, some of the most famous sports broadcasting calls come from boxing. Many fans will remember Howard Cosell belting out the phrase: “Down goes Frazier, down goes Frazier,” and many remember the explosion boxing had in the 1990s behind “Iron Mike” Tyson and Evander Holyfield. Older fans will remember Sugar Ray Leonard and, of course, Muhammad Ali.
The rich history of boxing stands clear in the minds of many sports fans, and on Saturday, July 10, Chesterfield County fans will be treated to an amateur boxing show at Matoaca High School. A small boxing organization, a member of the national boxing association Boxing USA, is putting on the event, which will include 22 boxing matches and 44 competitors, and all for a good cause, at that.
About seven years ago, Alex Matos and Carmelo Vasquez founded the Alpha Boxing and Fitness Club, Club #145 for USA Boxing, and it’s grown to about 20-25 devoted members. They provide onsite fitness training dubbed “boxercise,” which includes lots of cardio, aerobic and anaerobic exercises and ply metrics, exercises that increase footwork ease and agility.
The club has been practicing and training in different areas, including the YMCA and Sheltering Arms, who are also involved in sports medicine and sports rehabilitation; they also help stroke victims and paraolympians.
“They have equipment we’re able to use and train and exercise with, and we do appreciate all they do for the organization,” said Matos. “But having a place of our own would be awesome.”
For the coming event on July 10, more than 40 boxers will take to the ring, notably home town favorite and Thomas Dale High School student Jesse Riojas.
Riojas, who is 16, is currently fighting on a novice level, working his way up through the ranks, trying to get closer to a professional rank. Riojas is also a member of the Richmond Police Athletic League.
“He looks good in the ring, he lost his first match, but hasn’t lost since,” said Matos. “He’s a right-handed fighter and shows an overall good skill set.”
The next steps for Riojas are to continue training, improving and winning, and starting to build a fan base.
“A fan base is the most important step outside of training,” explains Matos, a former professional boxer. “You want people to know how you fight, what you’re about and to follow your career. Then promoters start to take notice and are more likely to put you in the limelight, and then you can get title shots and things of that nature.”
For Riojas, Matos and the other Latinos that train and box in general, boxing isn’t merely a hobby, it can be a way of life. It’s one of the most popular sports in the culture.
“Boxing to the Latin American community is like the Super Bowl to other cultures,” said Matos. “It’s just really big, boxers are held typically in high regard.”
Two of the most famous Latin boxers are Oscar De La Hoya and Julio Cesar Chavez; both hail from Mexico, and both reached their peak in the mid-90s.
Also of note at the show at Matoaca High School will be Guatemala native Fabio Renee Perez, who will in America for the competition. He turns 11 years old days before the event.
“It’s like his birthday whammy,” joked Matos.
This is the first event for the organization in the state of Virginia, as Matos was born in New York and several shows have been put on there.
Before going out for a night of fights and fun, note that the proceeds earned from tickets sales in part will go to SAFE, or Substance Abuse Free Environment Incorporated, an organization that promotes a drug-free environment for athletes and non-athletes. All concession sales will benefit Matoaca High School’s cheerleading squad.
“Steroids are a problem in our sport and many other sports,” said Matos. “We want to make sure that people are aware and drug-free.”
Matos and his club also volunteer their time at the Chesterfield Youth Group Home and have a strong belief in preventing gang activity by giving kids something to do.
For ticket information, call 245-4784. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Also at the event will be a live band, Space Box, a DJ and a joust that will be provided by Space Walk of Chester.