Boxers give their all in tournament

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Russell Moses, the director of Socorro’s Boot Camp Boxing Gym, took four participants to the state Junior Olympics Boxing Tournament held at Los Lunas High School last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Three were named champions and the other was named runner up.

Eighth-grader Andrew Silva, 14, lost his first championship fight and became the runner-up.

“Andrew did great,” Moses said. “He fought a kid that had lots more fights than him. He fought again on Saturday and won.”

The tournament was supposed to run through Sunday, and Moses said he took Silva back to Los Lunas for the fight, but it turned out there were not enough competitors that day and they cancelled his bout.

Second-grader Andres Jaquez, 8, won his first fight on Friday in the 50-pound weight class then he was moved into another weight class, and lost the second fight. He is still considered to have won in his weight class for the state championship. He attends Parkview Elementary School.

In the third grade, weighing 97 pounds and just 8 years old, Jacob McKeehan, whose nickname is “Tank,” has been in the program approximately five months. McKeehan got a bye for his first fight in the tournament and received his championship title by default. The boys he was scheduled to fight didn’t have their paperwork in order.

“I was really excited until I found out that I wouldn’t be able to compete,” McKeehan said. “I was very sad.” McKeehan is home schooled.

Felix Rodarte, 9, was scheduled to fight in the 90-pound weight class. He did not have a fight in his weight class because there was nobody to fight. He won the state title. The first night he ended up fighting someone in a higher weight class older than him and lost.

“This other kid was a bit more experienced, but Felix fought hard,” Moses said. “He held in there with him. The decision went the other way in the second fight, but I really thought it should have gone to Felix. The ones that won are two 8-year-olds and one 9-year-old; I don’t feel comfortable taking them to the next level yet. Kids come here to box and if they tell me they want to compete I let them compete. I let them box as much as possible. The kids all brought home trophies.”

Moses revived the boxing gym as Boot Camp Boxing in January 2012. He said before the gym was operated under the direction of Eddie Padilla and David Castillo, and there were various others involved in the operation before that. Moses arrived in Socorro in November 2011.

“Fundraising is really hard because we need money going all over the place just to travel,” Moses said. “I really would like to reach out to anybody in the community that would donate or sell cheaply.”

Moses encourages those interested to stop by the gym between 4:30-6:30 p.m., at 105 Francisco de Avondo, behind Chevron on North California Street.

The gym’s amateur workout program is daily from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

“I let anybody who wants to join that program come in and work out,” Moses said. “I do have rules; it’s not a free for all. If they want to be amateur boxers in my gym they work out under my program. If they want to work out on their own they come in after 6:30.”

Many people of all weights and all classes use this gym, school children from grade school up to high school. Some parents come in and work out with their children. Since boxing is year-round and most other sports are seasonal, they get children coming and going all the time. Moses said that they have a child who just got done playing football and that they’ve had up to 25 children in here at one time. They’re working with 11 children now.

“I’ve been fortunate holding fundraiser with the parents’ help,” Moses said. “They’ve been a tremendous help.” Moses, originally from Arkansas, previously served in the military and is a petroleum engineering student at New Mexico Tech.

“After about a week of adjusting to life in Socorro, I really liked it,” Moses said. “The chile that I’ve never had in my life burned me up. I didn’t even know that there were such things as red chile and green chile. It was all a good experience. At first I was, ‘what the heck did I get into.’ Afterward I was thinking, ‘this is just what I need.’”

Moses is a single parent raising his 15-year-old daughter. She was a starter playing shortstop for the varsity softball team as an eighth-grader. Moses said that she’s made some good friends and is an honor student.

“The community is very welcoming. The small community has a slow pace. It was a great choice for me,” he says.

Moses said he served in the Arkansas Army/National Guard in Iraq and Kuwait and as a contractor in Kandahar Afghanistan while living in a tent city. He signed up as a 20-year-old in August 2001 at Fort Smith, Ark. He was in the service for nine years.

“I get a lot of kids that their parents want them to be there more than they do,” Moses said. “They can come in and work out just to learn how to box. There’s nothing wrong with that.”