Sock It To Me, Baby!
Fundraiser dinner-dance to benefit San Fernando's Young Champions Gym, September 7th.
Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor
I've always been impressed with athletes, especially boxers, that achieve & succeed in life and in the movies ever since I can remember.
Published on LatinoLA: August 21, 2013
I still get a twinge of excitement whenever I hear the theme from "Rocky" or the song "Eye of the Tiger" as they represent to me the challenge of coming up against something thought impossible by some, yet accomplished by others, usuaslly an underdog, by sheer desire and effort.
Boxing is one of the few individual physical sport challenges, like marathon running, that are truly individually challenging as there are no team mates in the ring with them as they are watched from all sides‘«™ but to first get in the ring, a team of supporters and trainers has to be in the mix for that individual to be there.
That team of supporters, led by somebody with a purpose, is what this story is about.
A couple of weeks ago, my good friend Peter Jaramillo invited me to come check out one of the few youth boxing gyms in the San Fernando Valley, and the only one in the City of San Fernando, where he proudly pointed out his grandson in training.
As I walked into the gym on Maclay Street, I heard the "Rocky" song in the back of my head as I watched young boys and girls (YES! Girls!) training and sparring. What struck me as impressive was that none of these kids seemed to have that hyper, short attention span-easily bored-goofy sense of energy most kids under 12 have when they're in the company of peers. They all seemed focused and serious‘«™something very impressive to see in young kids today‘«™and something that was taught to them right here.
A lady came out into the midst of sweating kids, and began to address them as they took a break from their training routines , admonishing them to "listen up", while giving out advice like "train right, train hard", "stay away from junk foods", "be here on time", "do good in school", among other announcements. The kids all gave her their attention as she calmly spoke.
That lady is Gloria Mosquera, owner-operator of the Young Champions Gym in San Fernando.
A member of the San Fernando community as well as an accomplished boxer herself, Gloria invited me and my friend Peter and son Jason to come check out the gym .
"I was lucky to have taken over this gym from my relatives the Urquidez family in 2009. I've always wanted to help get kids off the street, and get more girls involved in boxing, so here's my chance," Gloria tells LatinoLA.
"I've always had this personal thing, you know, about kids being bullied on the schoolyard, and young girls being beaten up by controlling boyfriends, both because they're afraid. I remember when I was attending San Fernando High School back in '92, at the time of the Rodney King beating and L.A. Riots‘«™white people were NOT the most popular folks in the 'hood, and I was probably the only blonde haired, blue eyed Chicana in school", Gloria laughs. "Well‘«™a couple of Latina girls mistook me for a white girl and tried to bully me and pick a fight‘«™wrong decision for them!
"I come from a long line of fighters, my uncle is Benny Urquidez, a recognized professional boxer & trainer, my late aunt was the legendary lady boxer Lilly Urquidez-Rodriguez, and her husband, my uncle, is champion kickboxer Blinky Rodriguez. They all trained me how to fight and protect myself since I was a young girl‘«™so like I said, it was a wrong decision for those girls, lol‘«™but nobody ever bothered me after that . I would like other kids to feel that sense of confidence and accomplishment."
As we talked, I just couldn't keep my eyes off some young kid, probably around 10 years old, seriously training on a heavy bag. The song "Eye of the tiger" came into my head as I noticed the determination in his eyes and his impressive punching skills.
Looking around further, I see young girls jumping rope (the boxer-training type) and sparring with gloves on ‘«™and I couldn't help but think "something really significant is happening in here ".
"Another thing that has my attention is the issue of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in kids and the way some of them are being treated," Gloria adds. "My daughter was diagnosed as ADHD, and I thought that there has got to be another way of treating her besides loading her up with medication at such a young age to help deal with all that energy‘«™so I put her in boxing and trained her ... and she won her first championship fight at age 8. She has stayed in boxing since then, and I've noticed such a positive change in her confidence and behavior.
"In fact, she inspired me to change the name of the gym to 'Young Champions' this year because I believe there are more kids like her who could benefit from the training and discipline and become champions." (Gloria's business card proudly has a picture of her daughter in a boxing stance). "Much like the martial arts, boxing teaches one to respect themselves by instilling confidence and skills to protect themselves, while the training builds strength and instills discipline.Kids with these qualities ultimately make better students, and succeed better in life as they mature. "
I noticed that the gym does not have enough equipment, has some older equipment that could use replacing, and I questioned how a kid could get into her gym and a boxing program if his family didn't have the money to enroll him.
Gloria smiled, "That's what I hoped you would see. I'm inspired to help other kids with my gym and boxing programs. Boxing has taught me and a lot of other people discipline, and to respect ourselves & others by not to being a bully, and I think that keeping my gym full of kids is better than having the streets full of kids. There just aren't enough youth programs here in San Fernando or the surrounding areas to fill the need...but I'm committed to giving it the best shot for as many as I can.
"I met my husband Rodrigo Mosquera, a professional boxing trainer and subject of the movie 'Born & Bred in East L.A.' while I was boxing, and he has been ever so supportive and helpful‘«™.but the fact of the matter is, the lights got to be kept on, equipment needs to be bought or replaced, and we need monetary support to engage in tournaments and other expenses.
"I also sponsor a number of kids who's family may not have been able to pay the fees‘«™and I don't feel they should miss out on an opportunity to join a program like ours because they're too young to go out and earn the money‘«™and I don't want them going out and committing crimes to get the money, so my purpose becomes more defined‘«™but we need help. Unfortunately, love don't pay the rent."
The Young Champions Gym is also partnering up with youth boxing programs in East L.A., sponsor a 10-day boxing training camp up in Big Bear , and have plans to enter competitions as a team‘«™but they need help. OUR help...
SO‘«™on Saturday evening, September 7th, starting at 6:00 pm, with the help of some local businesses and San Fernando City Hall, the Young Champions Youth Boxing Gym of San Fernando will be hosting their first Annual Fundraiser Dinner Dance at the gym located at 1051 N. Maclay Avenue in San Fernando. For those who cannot attend, donations are gratefully accepted. For more info: 818-809-9162 or 818-274-4299.
Live entertainment will be provided by THE BROTHERHOOD Band, featuring Bobby Martinez, himself a former Golden Gloves boxer from Los Angeles, and I will be most honored to serve as Host and House DJ along with event coordinator and Brother DJ Jason Jaramillo for the night. Special guests are also expected.
Along with dinner, a youth boxing exhibition will be held prior to the dance starting.
"I had a girl's boxing exhibition recently this summer, showcasing my daughter boxing" Gloria adds. "The response was so overwhelming that at least 30 young girls approached us afterwards to sign up‘«™so now I also have spearheaded a 'Girls Only' boxing clinic‘«™there's no telling where this thing will go‘«™but I'm willing to take it as far and for as long as I can...as long as kids benefit, WE ALL benefit!"
Hoping to see you all there‘«™let's make a difference in some child's life together !
...it could br YOUR child or grand child!
Young Champions Gym on Facebook
Frankie Firme, Contributing Editor:
Frankie Firme is the "Al Capone of the microphone & the Hitman of West Coast Chicano Soul" also known as the Voice of Aztlan heard daily on Internet radio Station www.eastLArevue.com
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