SALINAS VALLEY — Over a year away from competition has not diminished the love of the sport of boxing for the members of the King City and San Ardo Boxing Clubs.
With Covid-19 keeping boxing shows and tournaments from taking place, the two clubs — under the direction of head coach Rodolfo Tapia and his son Alexis Tapia — will be training to compete at the 2021 National Junior Olympics for USA Boxing. The tournament takes place from July 7 to 17 at Lubbock, Texas.
“Our clubs have been training four days a week to prepare to fight,” said Rodolfo Tapia. “In San Ardo, we practice from 6:30 to 9 p.m, and in King City, we practice from 4:30 to 6 p.m. On Saturdays, we all run the hills in San Ardo for conditioning. The boxers are going to spar this weekend against the Central Valley Boxing Club and we will continue to follow all safety protocols.”
Three veteran boxers that are getting ready to travel to Texas are Aiden Almanza of the King City Boxing Club and Miguelito Hernandez and Bryan Cruz of the San Ardo Boxing Club. Almanza is 12 years old and will fight at 75 pounds; Hernandez, 11, will fight at 65 pounds; and Cruz, 11, will compete in the 70-pound weight class.
“We have three young boxers that will be going to Texas and competing in the Pee Wee divisions,” said Coach Almanza. “Kaleb Almanza is the 9-year-old brother of Aiden Almanza; Andre Mosqueda is 8 years old and is fighting at 60 pounds for the King City Boxing Club; and we have 12-year-old Grettelle Cruz, who is Bryan’s sister and will fight at 75 pounds. This year USA Boxing is allowing boxers with limited or no experience to compete at the Junior Olympics. It will be a great experience for all the kids, especially the new ones.”