Convicted Artist Magazine

Jun 07th
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 oxnard-california-boxingOxnard, California is a study in the boxing equivalent of the concept of “they tell two friends, and then they tell two friends, etc.”  A city that only 20 years ago was never a blip on the boxing map, now has more professional fighters per capita than any other U.S. city.  Local boxing prospect Erik Ruiz says, “There weren't any boxers I looked up to or even knew about that came out of Oxnard at that time. Growing up my brother would always watch Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. that was one of the fighters I looked up to.”  The Garcia family may be the catalyst for this rapid growth, and trainer Robert Garcia brought the city its first world champion, however it was another fighter out of that same gym that put the city on the scene.

Fernando Vargas’s career spanned 11 years as a pro, following an Olympic appearance.  He spent most of that time on television, and was the first to vocally praise his hometown of Oxnard.  He was your classic boxer’s story… single mother raised, tough neighborhood, but many people did not realize this reality existed in Ventura County, an hour northwest of Los Angeles.  South Central and East LA were the rise-from-the-ashes story people knew and understood.  Once it was made public knowledge that a tough lifestyle was breeding fighters in Oxnard, it seems the confidence of the local fighters soared.

Yet the Oxnard explosion would not come as a result of young local fighters.  It actually came in the form of transplants, who have made Oxnard home.  This happened in two ways.  Established champions like Sergio Martinez came to Oxnard.  The Middleweight champion did so in following his trainer Pablo Sarmiento, and this led not only to other Argentines, such as Marcos Maidana making the trip… but also Martinez’s former opponents, such as Kelly Pavlik.  The other way the stable of fighters grew was an almost “sister city” program with Garden City, Kansas.

As local fighter Herbert Acevedo puts it, “I grew up in Garden City, Kansas, and lived in the same neighborhood as Victor Ortiz. He is actually the one who told my dad to take me to the gym when I was 10 years old.  That’s when I first came to the sport of boxing. I really looked up to Brandon Rios and Victor Ortiz since I came out of the same gym and town as them. Seeing their accomplishments in this sport motivated me.”  Acevedo has a record of 11-1-6 KO’s.  His activity stagnated after his first 3 fights out of Kansas, yet he has been steadily busy since his move to Oxnard.

He and Ruiz will fight separate opponents on the Port Hueneme card 4/26.  “My first day at the Garcia’s gym was a dream come true.  It was a big opportunity, and I knew I had to push hard to achieve and open up the next door to my career.  The environment in the gym is great… working with champions, and getting the best work from them.  I’m learning something new every day… it’s a blessing.  To me it's an honor to be here at the RGBA”, said Acevedo.  Ruiz agrees, “I love environment at the gym. It’s always a good time. Everyone trains hard but we all have fun moments. We're not just fighters there, we're a big family. I think it’s one of the best gyms out there.”

Nowadays, the born and bred Oxnard fighters, such as Hugo Centeno, are beginning to make noise.  Also, many who have not made Oxnard a permanent home still make the trip to train.  Trevor McCumby and Daniel Franco are just two such examples, and both will also be fighting on 4/26.  They are just two of the fighters who commute regularly for training.  And Garcia is not the only game in town, as Sarmiento, as well as Mario Aguiniga’s TuneUp USA, and a host of other gyms offer pro trainers. 

When some Oceanside communities gentrify, they clean up crime, but they lose some of their character, and their grittiness.  Many of the old gyms of Venice and Santa Monica certainly fell victim to this, yet Oxnard retains both its blue collar roots, and it’s feeling of being a town on the upswing.  Boxing is a part of that re-energizing, instead of the side effect of an economic downfall.  As long as California sun shines, the future for Ventura County’s fight scene is looking bright indeed.

Chris Strait

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Ronald Chitrik  - OXNARD, A 20-YEAR FLOOD |
Terrific content. Expect to integrate this. ay-5-2-thursday
Gerard Cadwallader  - OXNARD, A 20-YEAR FLOOD |
Pleased I came across this really. I'm well into your content mate.
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