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Jorge's Corner
The Voice of Boxing in Central and Northern California


France vs. United States
Reno Nevada
November 1, 2003

One of the questions you might ask is " Why are you covering amateur competition"?  Easy, these kids are our future professional boxers. I met Anne Wolfe and Kelsey Jeffries when they competed as amateurs. I met Rodney Jose, Joey Garcia, David Martinez and a dozen others before they turned pro. Amateur boxing is the heart and soul of boxing. It would be a great thing if more people took an interest. Not only do our Olympic boxers need our support, they need more attention. Our amateur programs are poorly managed and often operated by unscrupulous individuals. In my home town of Stockton California. The local PAL is permitting professional fighters to use its facilities, yet when they raise funds, they say it is a non-profit program. This is not a recent development it has been going on as long as I can remember. The individual who operates The PAL runs it as if it were is personal and private business. He is openly supplementing his income via professional fighters who take up space in an already over crowded facility. The attention they should be receiving is given to the professional boxers. How is this allowed to continue? The PAL program is for the kids, not professional boxers. Funds are raised via phone calls to unsuspecting citizens who are told the money is for the ³ kids². They are told the funds are for the kids, yet my information is that ³ training ² consists of kids hitting the bags without training or preparation. Kids are registered and place in amateur competition without a working knowledge of fundamentals.  Yet, local city officials, including the police chief and mayor are ignoring this and business goes on as usual. How can we expect our kids to evolve into honest citizens when we demonstrate via this hypocrisy how things really are. I suggest every caring individual in Stockton write their Councilman and County Supervisor and bring these evils to light. If we are to save boxing, we must treat it like as if it matters. The old timers who have a strangle hold on boxing must be forced to let go so light, new blood, and ideas may enter. Otherwise, we surrender this great sport to the same individuals that have allowed it to reach these depths. The PAL gym should not be used as a professional training camp, the individual who operates the gym for the city so should not be allowed to profit by allowing professional fighters to use the facility. This is clearly a violation of the trust bestowed upon him by the city and the PAL organization.

The French Team captain spoke Spanish, which he learned while in Cuba. My French needed work, so we communicated in Spanish. I also spoke with Candy Lopez, the caption of the American Team. He is one of the few individuals who keeps their word. This may sound old fashion in the age of  "win at all cost", but I still believe a man is only has good as his word. I have know few men worthy of such a simple compliment. I also met representatives of USA boxing staff. All of them proved to be helpful. 

The first bout matched Rayonta Whitfield of Augusta Ga. 106 lbs going up against Redoune Asloum. I was disappointed with the lack of boxing fundamentals displayed by the American team. I was expecting excellent technique. I also expected them to be in great condition. I was disappointed on both counts. Perhaps my expectations are too high, however I continue to believe it comes back to the coaches. Too many amateur coaches are permitting amateur boxers to enter the ring without the benefit of basic boxing knowledge and fundamentals. It goes along with the American attitude of "the means justify the ends". As in all things that develop in this fashion, its too much sizzle and no meat. I predict disaster at the 2004 Olympics if this is allowed to continue.

I saw the first round for Asloum, although I must confess that the scoring system is a mystery to me. However, if you ask any of the officials they'll tell you they love it. I suspect they have been warned to say so. The politics that go on among officials is enough to make most of them quick. As I did. I found the scoring method poor at best. However, in order to avoid favoritism, there was no choice but to develop another method of scoring.

This just goes to show change is not always good. I saw the second round for the American. The French fighter continued to be the aggressor. Whitfield demonstrated technique and skill during the third round. He seemed tentative, waiting too long, however he began to loosen up and read his opponent towards the end of the round. The last round saw both boxers come out aggressively. Whitfield came out jabbing moving left, stopping and unloading three and four punch combinations. The French boxer continued to pressure, but failed to punch while doing so. Whitfield looked tired, lacking snap and aggression. Whitfield began pushing Asloum against the ropes, while the French boxer tired to upper cut. I saw the bout for the French fighters, however as I said before one never knows which fight the judges were watching. According to the judges Whitfield won the bout 23-21, as I said it could have gone either way. I was unimpressed with the American boxer who won this bout by the skin of his teeth and the weird scoring system.

The second bout squared off Raul Martinez of San Antonio, Texas against Jerome Thomas of Picardie, France. I wanted to like Raul, who is from my native land and shares a name with my brother. However, someone overlooked his social skills. His coach neglected to tell him boxing is not fighting. Boxing is not a street brawl and the USA Team is no place for thuggish behavior. Raul demonstrated a lack of sportsmanship and anger management. As I said I wanted to like him, but I was disappointed. Raul came out confidently but waited too long to begin punching, while Jerome demonstrated aggression and good hand speed. Jerome wasted no time in setting up his left jab, right cross. Martinez waited while Jerome punched. Martinez started coming in trying to land bombs to the body. Martinez spoke to Jerome which is against the rules, but received no warnings. The second round saw Jerome coming out with a beautiful jab which Martinez tried to counter with overhand rights. Jerome out jabbed, and out boxed Martinez. Jerome threw three left hooks, jabs and rights, which Martinez took without answering.  Raul started bleeding then stopped, turned and walked away and took an eight count. I was stunned, this is no way for a warrior to behave. The third round saw Martinez come out in a blaze of wild punches. Jerome maintained his composure and demonstrated courage under his attack. Jeromeıs focus paid off as he out boxed and out smarted Martinez who demonstrated poor control, poor technique and no anger management. Someone has failed this young man terribly by allowing him to believe this is acceptable behavior. The last round Martinez came out with a three punch combination then stuck out his tongue at Jerome who ignored his childish tactics and continued to out punch, out box and out class the embarrassing Martinez. Martinez completely lost all sense of decorum and flipped the French fighter over.  The French boxer demonstrated lots of ring knowledge as he held on, completely frustrating Martinez who did his best to pretend he was winning.  The last few seconds saw Jerome scoring more and demonstrating that a fair boxer can beat an good brawler most days of the week. Someone should tell Raul that behaving like a gentleman is an additional duty assigned all United States representatives. Its too bad. I was completely embarrassed by the crowds reaction to Martinezıs loss. The boos and curses did little to endear us to the visiting French. However, its a typical demonstration of how little social up bring the average American has. We love to pay lip service to such things as sportsmanship and character, but when it comes right down to it, most Americans donıt care how they win, as long as they do. Too bad, USA Boxing does not place more emphasis on selecting boxers for their character, as well as they ring ability.

The third bout matched Sergio Ramos of Sacramento, California at 119 lbs squaring off against Ali Hallab of IIe de France, France. Ramos came out jabbing moving left, demonstrating good hand speed. Ali, tried to match his fury. Ramos immediately started using three punch combinations. Ali refused to be intimidated and responded well. Ramos demonstrated good defensive positioning as did Ali. I had the first round for Ramos. The second round saw both boxers coming out aggressively, although I noted a lack of balance and footwork by Ramos. Ali pressured Ramos, while Sergio seemed stronger and refused to be cowed. Ali continued to throw power punches to the head and body. Sergio fought back, trying to meet his attack.  So many punches landed it was difficult to score. The third round saw Sergio and Ali trading good, hard shots. Both landed rights and left hooks. Sergio looked tired, while Ali seemed to get stronger and used effective upper cuts. Sergio took a hard shot, the referee stepped in and gave him an eight count. The last round saw Sergio desperately trying to even up the score, holding and punching. Sergio tried to be more aggressive, however Ali refused to give ground and willingly traded bombs with Sergio. Ali seemed the stronger and Sergio backed up against the ropes. Sergio, demonstrated poor conditioning. I thought Sergio should have gotten another eight count.  Ali took the bout 21 - 8. Ramos a native of Sacramento, must have forgotten how tough some of these guys can be. It appeared that Ali had much more experience and was able to relax sooner and be more effective. It was a tough battle and a hard lesson for Sergio who might have lost his shot at the 2004 Olympics.

The next bout matched Arron Garcia from Vista, California squaring off against Khedafi Dkjelkhir of France. The first round demonstrated that Garcia lacked knowledge of fundamentals. Khedafi appeared to be better prepared, but it was Garcia who slipped, got inside and delivered effective body shots. Both demonstrated good hand speed, again it was Garcia who delivered better combinations. Neither seemed to know how to throw straight punches, both wanted to win and both were aggressive. If Garcia had thrown straight shots instead of wild, swinging bombs he might have knocked him down sooner than the third round. Khedafi actually fell down while punching due to poor positioning and terrible balance. Garcia grew more aggressive after knocking Khedafi down. The French boxer demonstrated heart, but little knowledge of fundamentals. Although the American was no better. Garcia won the bout.

Looking back Vicente Escobedo proved to be the best boxer of the evening.  I've followed Vicenteıs career and its difficult to get a read on how this young man feels. He is for the most part stoic and uncommunicative, which gives the appearance of being hostile and unfriendly. I avoid contact with such individuals as they appear to be about to explode . (I've seen enough senseless violence to last me a life time. Someone should give this kid a headıs up. However, personalities aside, I think this kid has the best chance to win Gold for the United States. He also has some flash and style.  He came in to a Mexican Song, called El Rey, which translates into ³ The King². He certainly demonstrated dominance over Saber Bouzaiane. The France boxer came in aggressively and was game. However, Vicente whom I call ³ The Quite Man ², responded with beautiful left jabs and right crosses.  Sharp, quick, solid punches that had the French Coach, Nato worried from the first bell. I had Vicente ahead after the first round. Bouzaiane again came out aggressively, smartly Vicente threw hooks behind a jab. Vicente demonstrated the best knowledge of fundamental out all the American boxers that night. Nice head movement, good hand position, effective defensive techniques, he also threw combinations which is the only formula for victory. Vicente dominated the third round easily partly due to his better conditioning. The fourth round was exciting as Bouzaiane knew he was losing and came out trying to hurt Vicente. Effective combinations beat back the French attack. Both boxers looked exhausted. A right hand rocked the French boxer and an eight count was given. It was the best bout of the evening.  Vicente has made excellent improvements since I saw him last in Las Vegas at the Nationals. I personally hope Vicente gets a shot at the Gold. Lamont Peterson from Washington D.C. and Willy Blain La Reunion, France squared off for the next bout. I was disappointed with Lamontıs hand positioning. He held his arms down by his knees. He also demonstrated no sportsmanship and was warned for pushing. I had Blain ahead after the first round. Blain a southpaw may have confused Lamont who was warned again. In fairness it seemed that both boxers were pushing. Willy attacked with four punch combinations that beat Lamont back. Lamont waited too long, while Willy demonstrated good hand speed. I gave it to Blain. The third round saw Lamont becoming more aggressive and pressured Blain. Willy moved back and waited. Lamont continued to pressure behind his jab, which Willy tried to counter with combinations. Lamont looked frustrated while Willy seemed tired. The last round saw Lamont getting yelled at by his mother who shouted "you better fight Lamont", and he listened. However, the French Coach was also shouting at Willy who woke up and began attacking aggressively. I had them even on my card, however the judges saw it for Peterson. This boxer needs lots of improvement on his fundamentals, counter punching, foot technique and problem solving skills. However, with the way Olympic bouts are scored its impossible to know whoıll win. I wouldnıt place any bets on this Olympic hopeful. I pray God proves me wrong.  The next bout matched Andre Berto of Winter Haven, Fla. t 52 lbs.. against Xavier Noel of IIe De France, France. The bell saw Xavier coming out with his hands up, jabbing with his right hand. Andre appeared to be in much better shape, while the French boxer was so out of shape, its surprising he would be on the team. Andre pounded Xavier who should receive a server reprimand for being in such poor shape. Andre dominated the entire bout and scored easily. I donıt how this happened but Xavier Noel got the decision. The next bout matched Andre Dirrell 152 Lbs. against Mamadou Diambang, of IIe de France, France. The bell saw Diambang come out aggressively jabbing with his right hand. Mamadou scored easily against Andre who had no fundamentals and used terrible defensive techniques. I was stunned at how poorly trained Andre appeared to be. I have no idea how this young man got this far. Mamadou displayed excellent defensive tactics, good balance and hand speed, while Dirrel was completely overwhelmed. You would think being beaten would teach you to raise you hands in a defensive posture, but no, Andre continued to ignore these painful reminders and took a beating. Dirrell did attempt to counter attacked but his footwork was awful. Staying with basic boxing techniques Mamadou easily dominated Dirrell who hopped around and remained off balance. Dirrell winged his punches, no power, no pivots, no techniques. Mamadou pounded Dirrell until I was calling for an eight count, but the referee failed to see it. Mamadou continued to pound Dirrell who failed to raise his hands. The last round was a repeat with Mamadou stalking Dirrell who demonstrated no stamina and no power behind his punches. Dirrell then raised his hands up into the air and did a ridiculous dance across the ring. He used up the last few minutes of the round dancing away and wasting time. Mamadou knowing he could knock him pressured him mercilessly. It was an embarrassing defeat for the American team. I would not place any bets on Andre Dirrell for Olympic gold. The judges gave it to Dirrell. Donıt ask me how.  The next bout matched Andre Ward of Oakland, Ca. against John Dovi of IIe de France, France at 178 lbs.. I met Andre before the match, we spoke briefly. I was impressed with his easy going manner. I also saw Andre parry a punch something I had only seen Escobedo do. I did not like the way Andre held his hands down by his knees, however this seems to be the norm, how this gets past coaches is a mystery to me. Dovi seemed intimidated by Ward, who moved easily and confidentially. Ward seemed eager to attack with the bell of the second round. Dovi seemed tentative and waited too long. Wards reputation seemed to be misplaced, he lacks fundamentals and power in his punches. I was disappointed with his style of boxing, I noticed Emmanuel Steward seemed bored as did Tommy Hearns. Ward was able to read his opponent and find the right combination to be effective. Andre seems to have figured out how to impress the judges so that they see his punches, other fighters who I believe are equally as good have not. I believe he has a good chance a Gold in the Olympics.

Charles Ellis of Wichita, Kansas squared off with Christophe Dettinger of IIe de France, France at 201 lbs. I was disappointed with the style of both boxers who lacked conditioning, fundamentals, technique and grit. Both boxers winged their punches, which lacked power and speed. The last round saw Ellis exhausted, while Dettinger pounded him easily, however his punches lacked power and they traded blows neither having any effect. France won the decision with a score 17-12. Again, donıt ask me how. The final bout matched Jason Estrada of Providence, RI and Mehdi Aouiche of Lonnais, France at 201 plus lbs. Iıve always believe that armature boxing is about developing character, confidence and facing your fears. However, everyone must have had a sense of duty, honor, discipline and honesty already instilled. The final bout, proved a great disappointment. Both boxers lack fundamentals, neither had good boxing technique, both were in poor condition, neither of them pack the right-stuff to bring Gold in the Olympics. I would not place a bet on this young man, unless great changes are made.

Maybe its just me I was not aware of how badly our amateur programs have fallen. However I am continuously made aware of how little focus is placed on fundamentals, defensive and counter punching techniques. As a devout boxing fan, as a constant student, always seeking to improve my knowledge I am dishearten at how we are willing to accept this as normal. Instead of raising the standards, demanding more commitment, expecting constant improvement and increased dedication by our coaches and boxers, we have allowed ourselves to accept poor performances as normal. We praised too much too soon, thereby co-signing mediocre performance. Instead of working harder, we praise average and mediocre behavior. It reminds me of the old fable about the king who was tricked into believing he was wearing a beautiful suit of cloths. Fearing his wrath, everyone agreed the suit was wonderful when in reality there was no suit. Isnıt it time someone finally spoke out and said ³ The Kings has no clothes² and do something about it.

Shouldnıt we hold coaches accountable for the future of boxing in American.  Shouldnıt we expect organizations that host amateur boxing and profit from  it accountable? Shouldnıt we be a part of the solution instead of adding to the problem via our indifference and lack of character to take a stand and something.

You will easily find one thousand individuals who will tell you they know boxing. Others will want to share stories of past victories. I even met an old woman who bragged she had forgotten more about boxing then most people ever knew. Shouldnıt we set a standard then expect coaches and boxers to meet it. This is the only way to encourage and help bring about the necessary improvements. In the mean time, I will keep the home fires burning, I will tie a yellow ribbon around the tree and I will make sure, all my students know the fundamentals and are in condition to meet the challenge, in and out of the ring.

See you Ringside,

Jorge A. Martinez