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Burbank boxers hit road for bouts

Boxing: Unable to spar in own gym, boxing club's students find ring action in Tucson.

June 25, 2011|By Jeff Tully,
  • Jesse Villanueva, right, of the Burbank Boxing Club, competes in a recent amateur bout in Tucson.
Jesse Villanueva, right, of the Burbank Boxing Club,… (Ray Flores Jr, Burbank…)

BURBANK — Members of the Burbank Boxing Club are not actually able to stage fights during their workouts.

Because the club is housed in the Burbank Community YMCA, rules prohibit the boxers from doing any kind of sparring. Instead, athletes work on their techniques, learn about the sport and get an exhausting workout in the process.

"We can't even do any tough-boxing," Burbank Boxing Club Director Stave Harpst said. "It just isn't allowed."

Because of this lack of competition, Harpst likes to take his fighters out and give them a chance to compete in some actual bouts every now and then.

One of those excursions took part earlier this month, when members of the group traveled to Tucson for a friendly competition.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Harpst took a contingent of 19 people, which included boxers, parents, coaches, photographers, friends and former World Boxing Hall of Fame President and former WBC Supervisor, Dr. Joe Noriega, and his wife, Nelly.


"The fighters love to go on trips like these," Harpst said. "They do work hard, and it's nice to see them put that hard work to use. When they have a chance to go out and show their skills, and show what they've been working on, they just get so excited."

Along with the boxing experiences his athletes receive, Harpst said trips like these serve as a cultural education for his members.

"On these road trips, a lot of the kids have never been out of their neighborhoods," Harpst said. "It's really fun to see them on a new adventure, plus they get a new world view, seeing different areas and interacting with different people."

The group — which included individuals from Ten Goose Boxing and The Favela Chavez Gym — was hosted by the Tucson Wolfpack Boxing Team, under the direction of Coach Kenneth Ray Mitchell and gym owner Ed Torregon.

Individuals from the Burbank Boxing Club included Adam Lopez, Damien Lopez and Jesse Villanueva, an honorary club member. The event served as a fundraiser for the Tucson club.

The bouts took part outside at the Riverpark Inn Hotel. Despite temperatures hovering close to 100 degrees, the event featured a number of intense bouts.

Damien Lopez put on a non-stop performance, taking part in hard-hitting action from the opening bell. Adam Lopez, donning leopard-skin trunks, fought with inspiration, scoring an artful upset over a more experienced fighter.

"Jesse also looked great in his fight, as well," Harpst said. "He really had the crowd going and he did a great job."

After the competition, Harpst said several area promoters approached the group about the possibility of taking part in some future events.

"I think that is the ultimate complement," Harpst said. "It's always nice when people want to have you in their show, because they know your fighters are going to show up, they are going to be ready and look good in the show."

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