Boxer’s legacy lives on through program
It’s cold and dark outside, but underneath the Abundant Life Church on Atlantic Street in Roseville, a sharp, leading voice gives volume to an otherwise quiet night:
About 15 men and women, boys and girls are in a boxing ring inside a garage area warming up for their nightly workout with Lord’s Gym/Bam Bam Boxing.
“We’ve come a long way. We started in a little small room upstairs, probably 20 by 30,” says Shawn Holmes, the head coach who volunteers his time to the nonprofit.
Lord’s Gym/Bam Bam Boxing was started in 2003 by Richard “Bam Bam” Duran, a popular Sacramento super bantamweight who twice fought for a world title and retired with a 27-3 record. Duran’s life included a prison term, and when he got out, he wanted to do something “significant,” according to Manuel Gachupin, a longtime coach and employee at the church.
Teaching young people the sweet science and teaching them to make good decisions and avoid alcohol and drugs through the slogan, “Building champions from the inside out,” they started with one heavy bag and one speed bag in a little room. The boxing program was born.
There are 20 Lord’s Gyms in the United States, but only Roseville has a boxing program. The growing program moved down to the garage in 2009, and the Police Athletic League donated the ring.
“We had to expand to reach more young people,” Gachupin said.
With the ring came additional heavy and speed bags and more equipment. Anywhere from 12 to 30 boxers work out each day.
But the program was jolted in April when Duran suffered a stroke and passed away. He was 44. Holmes, who works professionally on the youth side of the Department of Corrections and worked with Duran on and off over the years, was asked to step up. Doug Bird, the senior pastor at Abundant Life, suggested the program be renamed Bam Bam Boxing.
“Doug Bird is the one responsible for this,” Holmes says in appreciation, adding he wants to “give back to God and the community for the time he’s blessed me with.”
The members range in age from 9 to 27. They start with a group exercise, led by Mario Monarrez, who has had more than 25 amateur fights. Gachupin and Holmes hope Monarrez becomes Bam Bam Boxing’s first pro. They’re shooting for a debut in 2012. The group run two miles, jump rope, shadow box and spend time on the heavy and speed bags.
Gachupin said the goal is to build a solid team — and the boxers’ character.
“We want them to learn something. I can stay away from the drugs, gangs, people that are drinking,” he said. “Youth represents 20 percent of our population and 100 percent of our future.”
Gachupin said times were tough after Duran passed away. Gachupin said he saw Duran the day before he died.
“He was the heart and soul,” Gachupin said. “I want to live on his legacy. I want to touch young people’s lives.”
Duran touched Monarrez, who has been in the program for several years. He’s the leader in the ring.
“When I found boxing and Lord’s Gym, it changed my life a lot,” he said. “I feel good. The kids look up to me. Coach Bam Bam taught me that. He was a father figure for me. The gym is great. We have a family, and we’re going to keep it like that.”
Eusebio “Chavo” Ibarra was born in Los Angeles and has “been in Roseville for a while” now. He said boxing “gives me something to do. It keeps me out of trouble.”
Ibarra won his amateur debut on Dec. 3 and Saturday improved to 2-0 with a three-round decision at Rosa Parks Middle School in Sacramento.
Sam Schivo took a break from sports after playing football and baseball at Oakmont High School. He said he was 15 when he met Duran.
“He taught me everything,” Schivo said. “He taught me how to be modest, be mellow. He gave a lot of life’s lessons to us; not let us get down the wrong road.”
LORD’S GYM/BAM BAM BOXING
Where: 702 Atlantic Street, Roseville
Information: Call Lisa Geyermyer at (916) 783-1989.
Contact Bill Poindexter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.