Record Junior Olympics sets tone for future fights in Corpus Christi

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Ralph Davila has attended his share of boxing events since being crowned Golden Gloves champion for Corpus Christi in 1967.

With over 40 fight events under his belt and over half a century of experience, the veteran boxer and official knows a thing or two about the popularity of the sport.

Davila worked as the main referee at this year’s Junior Olympic boxing tournament at the American Bank Center.

After seeing a record 414 fighters participate and more than 5,000 spectators throughout the three-day event, Davila said he believes this year’s Junior Olympics will set the tone for future boxing events. in Corpus Christi.

“Times are changing and they are changing for the good right now,” Davila said. “We have more clubs and more boxers getting into the sport. We double the popularity of the sport and we do well.

Corpus Christi was the only city to field two boxing rings at the TAAF Games of Texas boxing tournament last year at Ray High School. The Junior Olympics went one better by bringing three rings for the record number of fighters.

Davila expects at least a 50% increase in attendance for next year’s Junior Olympics, which is set to return to Corpus Christi with three boxing rings.

“Not just for the three days of the event, but overall in the past we have set a record for boxer, club and trainer entries,” Davila said, “It has been a great improvement and hopefully next year we can increase another 50% We will need more income and hotels which is good for the city.

Blindsider Boxing Club boxer Benicio Garza receives instructions from trainer Saul Garza between rounds.

This weekend’s tournament ended a 30-year drought of Corpus Christi hosting the Junior Olympics.

Duke it out Boxing Club, which is a non-profit organization, hosted the event throughout the three days and brought in several surprise guests along the way.

Corpus Christi Mayor Paulette Guajardo and City Manager Peter Zanoni were among many city officials who were on hand to support the return of the Junior Olympics to Coastal Bend.

“It’s great to bring this Olympic boxing event back to Corpus Christi,” Zanoni said. “It’s been over three decades since we last hosted it. It took a bit of work from myself and the other members of my team, but it’s worth it and we’re going to do it too. recover next year.

Zanoni said Corpus Christi was competing with several other cities in the state to bring the popular event to Coastal Bend.

“We think families and young boxers in the area love Corpus Christi,” Zanoni said. “It’s part of the event to have them come here and enjoy this beautiful arena and the beautiful bay. It means a lot to the sport and to the community that the young children of Corpus Christi have something to do, especially a sport they love like boxing.

Wolf Pack Boxing's Jeremiah Luevanos unloads on Alexander Alvarez during their fight at the Junior Olympic boxing tournament on Saturday.

The championship rounds of the Junior Olympics ended on Sunday with many fighters making it to the national level.

Tristen Flores, who fights at Team Gutierrez Boxing Academy in Robstown, said it was a dream come true to top the Junior Olympics.

“I was able to get more fights and more experience,” said Flores, who was one of three Robstown fighters to qualify. “My dad pushes me to never give up and after 10 seconds I have to give it my all. It feels good because all my parents, family and friends were able to come see me.”

Duke it Out Boxing coach Joe De La Paz, who was also the announcer for the event, said bringing the Junior Olympics back to Corpus Christi has been “phenomenal”.

The best part for him was watching boxers fight in the same arena as professional fighters and celebrities.

“I’m super happy and words can’t express how grateful I am for how everything turned out,” De La Paz said. “Especially with the City of Corpus Christi hosting this event. Bringing this back to Corpus Christi after a 30 year absence has been phenomenal. The American Bank Center staff who helped organize this and everyone who helped make it achieving this historic event have made him incredible in his first year. I’m happy.”

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Rey Castillo is a sports reporter for the Caller-Times and a graduate of Texas A&M-Kingsville. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @reycastillo361

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