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Avila Perspective, Chap. 165: A Christmas Book for Boxing Lovers and More

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  • Avila Perspective, Chap. 165: A Christmas Book for Boxing Lovers and More

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    By David A. Avila

    Los Angeles has always had this deep, dark unknown side to it especially when it comes to boxing.

    At the beginning of the 1900s prizefighting took place in barns, backyards, railroad stations and rickety arenas until the Billy Sundays put a ban on it. That forced prizefighting to move outside of the L.A. city limits.

    When the Olympic Auditorium opened up in the late 1920s, boxing returned with a vengeance in that historic venue and other places like Santa Monica, South Gate, Hollywood Legion Stadium, and many other spots. Later, during the 1960s, the Inglewood Forum also became a bastion of pugilism.

    Thousands of fans gathered there and the Olympic Auditorium to watch prizefighting.

    That’s when and where Gene Aguilera witnessed many of the colorful characters that stepped into the prize rings in the Los Angeles area.

    Aguilera has written his third book called “Lost Stories of West Coast Latino Boxing.” It’s dedicated to those boxers who exchanged punches, spilled blood and departed the boxing ring years ago, the memories mostly lost in a fog of haze.

    The 128-page book captivated me with its stories and forgotten photos of fighters, trainers, managers and other figures, some legendary and others simply colorful personalities.

    Los Angeles loved its fighters and many emerged from nearby barrios and neighborhoods from all junctions and directions. Many others traveled from small towns in Mexico, Puerto Rico and South America to battle it out in Southern California fight venues.

    Aguilera, a native of East Los Angeles, witnessed many of these battles over the decades and came to know many of these figures now seemingly lost to time. Champions like Ruben Olivares, Danny “Lil’ Red” Lopez and Bobby “Schoolboy” Chacon are mentioned in the book. There are also contenders like Ruben Navarro and Mando Muniz who built followings and attracted fans that packed the L.A. arenas.

    The book’s photos alone are enough to enjoy over and over again. Sports in L.A. has always had a slightly different feel to it largely because of its Latino heritage. Aguilera captures it perfectly.

    A lot of nuggets are captured in his third book. Items and facts that won’t be found in any other boxing novel or publication. I still look at the same pages I’ve read over and over. There’s magic in the pages. Boxing magic.

    Inside there’s a foreword written by Jimmy Lennon Jr. that hints at what boxing in Los Angeles was all about: “There was often an element of danger and even the possibility of a riot. Undoubtedly, the legendary Latinos of the L.A. area have been incredibly exciting to watch as they inspired loyal and even rabid fans and created an atmosphere unrivaled elsewhere in the world.”

    Who could say it better?

    The book “Lost Stories of West Coast Latino Boxing” by Gene Aguilera is available at www.arcadiapublishing.com

    You won’t regret purchasing it.

    A Holiday Wish

    It’s survival above all else and prizefighting continues to succeed and mutate like this two-year pandemic we’re currently enduring.

    Boxing has a hard-to-kill capacity.

    During the last quarter of the year, we saw some of the best and most surprising developments among world champions and contenders. Sure bets like Miguel Berchelt took a tumble, unknowns like George Kambosos Jr. surfaced and succeeded, and a guy with virtually no experience and a huge following named Jake Paul crashed the gate.

    The year 2021 was memorable for both men and women prizefighting.

    Boxing or MMA can adapt quicker and better than any other sport because it’s one on one. It’s the oldest sport in the world.

    But even boxing can improve.

    Things to consider:

    Ban the clinch

    Under the rules of boxing, yes there are rules, holding, clinching and wrestling are infractions. Yet, fighters that resort to grappling are seldom punished for using this tactic. Many fighters base their entire defense on holding.

    Clinches slow down the fight to a crawl and make any fight boring. Nobody wants to see a fighter holding.

    The clinch seems to be one of the first things taught by amateur trainers. Watching amateur boxing can be torturous for this reason. The Cubans love to clinch and don’t seem to be able to fight on the inside. It’s probably the reason they do so well in amateurs yet fail as pros. Holding should not be taught or allowed in amateurs or pros.

    Referees should be quick to deduct points from any fighter holding. If a fighter loses because of point deductions, so be it. The fans will benefit. Professional boxing is all about entertainment and I’ve never heard any fan say they love to see this certain fighter because “he holds really well.”

    Fans don’t want to see a fighter who holds. They want to see fists flying and knockouts. Not decisions based on someone’s ability to grab another fighter on the inside.

    Ban the clinch. Simply enforce the rule that forbids holding.

    Referees are quick to deduct points for hitting below the belt. But they seem to ignore holding tactics. Enforce all the rules with impunity.

    Hopefully one of the athletic commissions can pass this message to their referees. Don’t allow holding. It’s against the rules of boxing.

    Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel
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