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


Boxing and Bullfights
November 5, 2006

It seems that after all these years of one boxing match after another, I hit the wall, as they say in running circles. I needed a break. I needed more.  I needed a whole new point of view.  I discovered I was not happy with things. As they say, drastic changes require drastic measures. 

I tore down my boxing ring, something I never thought Iíd ever do.  I stopped taking students, and quit. I also believe I should not compromise my standards in order to accommodate my critics. The lack of quality people in boxing is well documented.  The poor candidates with undisciplined characteristics should not dictate I lower my standards.  I would rather stop training boxers than follow the standard methods.  I have never been part of a herd nor do I intend to start now.  If mediocre performance is required for membership, Iíd rather quit.

 Were boxing not my religion, it would be easier to give up.  However, I study boxing the way lawyers study the law, and the way priests study religion.  Boxing is my religion.  Although it is filled with corruption, greed, vanity and crime, I cannot surrender to the unfairness of society or those who find my behavior objectionable.  I have been blacklisted by the current president of the Central Valley boxing association for writing about my experiences and opinions of their behavior--the backstabbing, lying, egos, power struggles and a total absence of moral behavior.  I have been outcast by men whom I once respected. I have been disappointed and disillusioned by men whom I once thought worthy of their position within the association. No longer.  In retrospect, they did me a favor; it was like wiping dog shit from my shoes. My life is better now that Iíve distanced myself from them. It was no wonder I needed a break from this environment. I say, ďThank God, and good riddance.Ē

So, for those of you who wondered where Iíve been, thatís it.  Iíve been rediscovering what I want to do.  I cannot allow myself to adjust downward, because thatís what everyone is doing. I cannot give in to mediocrity, because it normal.  I cannot give in because everyone expects less than 100%. 

I decided to reject those who make such compromises.  Boxing may not mean as much to them.  It may not be as valuable. Some have called it a whore.  An easy, meaningless distraction. So be it. It means much more to me. The promoters, trainers, and many of the boxers may be below-standard people. The darkness that dwells inside manís heart is staggering.  It does not mean I should endorse, agree or co-sign such behavior. I cannot, and will not condone or accept such behavior.  It makes me want to try harder.  Iíve moved my training gym to Fitness System Gym in Lodi CA. Itís not an ideal set-up or location, but it will allow me to continue training boxers, which brings richness to my life. I doubt many can claim something as valuable in theirs.  To the naysayers and haters, of which there are many, I say, ďHereís mud in your eye,Ē and keep pushing towards my objectives. To the old men that want boxing to stay as sick as theyíve made it, I can only hope the Almighty will do His thing and, as they say, ďwork in mysterious ways.Ē

During my respite I returned to one other passion in my life.  Bullfighting. Yep, as crazy as it may sound, Iíve always wondered about the men who stand in front of a charging bull.  It requires special training, and a rare human being. I became interested as a child when I learned one of my cousins was a bullfighter. I was enthralled by the idea of fighting a bull.  I have been following bullfighting from Spain, Mexico and Portugal for many years. Recently, I attended several bullfights in Thornton, CA.  Who would have guessed you could find bullfights in Thornton?  Only in California can you spend a day at a Portuguese festival, attend a bullfight, and then go out for Chinese food. Itís one of the many things I love about California and why I stay.

Unless youíve witnessed a bullfight, you may not have an idea of what it consists of. It is difficult to conceive as to why a grown, supposedly sane, individual would stand in front of a charging bull, and then at the last moment, pivot, shift his weight and move out of the way.  These photographs I call, ď Death in the Afternoon,Ē were taken by Mario Garcia.  Thanks to him, you can get a small sense of it.  I would add this to the list of things you simply must do--you must attend a bullfight. Not only will you come away feeling alive, excited and joyous--youíll gain an entirely new perspective into what it means to be daring.

 Those young men whom you see, riding waves, skateboards, and bikes donít know the meaning of ď radical sports,Ē and are not in the same category as anyone who steps into a ring.

Both boxing and bullfighting take extreme dedication, discipline and quality. 

However, this is an arguable point.

Take the many boxers who end up on the wrong side of the law. How many times have you read of a boxer beating a woman, robbing a bank, or doing some other self-destructive activity?   The Central Valley boxing community was disappointed with the latest of such events. Enter Osbaldo ďThe Beast,Ē Sarabia, a boxer out of Bad to the Bonz Gym from Modesto, CA; trained by Joey Garcia.

This is a shocking blow. According to The Record (Stockton, CA),  Osbaldo and two others were arrested when police discovered 120 pounds of crystal methamphetamine in his car.  According to police, the seizure of such a large size may have prevented as many as a quarter-million in individual sales.  The Beast and his accomplices will face heavy jail time and the ugly consequences of their behavior. Itís like Joey said, ďItís heartbreaking.Ē

You gotta wonder what was going through this guyís head. What would make an otherwise sensible individual risk so much?  I cannot say I have not taken risks. I can say I have never been tempted to risk my freedom, something I believe to be invaluable.  I met Osbaldo. I watched him fight. He lacked technique, footwork and fundamentals; but he had an abundance of courage, conditioning, and stepped into the ring to match his ability with another.  Regardless of his proficiency, he had my respect for having the courage to do so.  I share concern for his well being.  The Central Valley will miss this young man who, via his courage, brought excitement and entertainment to boxing fans. As a Life-coach for athletes, soldiers, cops, firemen and other men of action, I hope he finds guidance, and a new direction.

Itís still puzzling why so many young men, with so much potential, surrender to criminal activity.  I know itís about the money, but itís also about the excitement, the adventure and the allure of it.  We see it in movies and TV all day long.  Itís enticing to our youth.  Itís beyond me why the valley has become a dumping ground for early prison release programs.  Stockton is riddled with crime, political corruption and malice.  Itís a criminalís paradise. Stockton sucks, and that is not a mistake.  We have hundred of illegal undocumented immigrants wandering our streets committing crimes, and preying upon each other to survive. Our mayor, once a police chief has proven incompetent, and lost 7.1 millions dollars, which as far as I know, is still missing. Stockton is number one in murder, crime and Godlessness.  Hispanic youth are dropping out of school at 50%.  How is this possible?  What other city in California can make such a claim?  On top of that, the Mayor is allowing criminals into our communities and they are influencing our youth. Although, Osbaldo made his own choices, there may have been a different outcome if heíd been influenced by a different environment.  Meanwhile, I call Stockton ďGun Smoke.Ē This Wild West mentality is only interesting from a distance.  It feels like a combat zone. Last night I heard gunshots.  In a combat zone, I at least have the right to shoot back.

On a happier note, you will be happy to learn Jerry Hoffman is preparing for his upcoming fight in Monterey, CA.  Jerryís shows are always well planned, entertaining and have the best venue in the world.  Monterey is beautiful!  Come to his show.  Youíll be glad you did. Jerry may be moody, but you gotta admit, he knows how to put on a show.  Good work, Jerry.

In local news, Rodney Jones of Stockton is in line for a title shot; but the guy with the title is not stepping up.  In the paper, (The Record, Stockton, CA), Rodney says Cory Spinks is ducking him.  I hate to throw water on Rodneyís fantasy, but I donít agree.  Iíve never known a world class fighter duck anyone. Fighters are not built to avoid confrontation--they seek them.  Cory may not be as willing to mix it up with Jones, because thereís no money in it. Rodney may be a great guy, etc. He may have earned a title shot, but he has no fan base. Unfortunately, heís not even well known or supported in Stockton. How many black faces did you see at the Civic Auditorium on September. 25, 2003, when he fought Manning Galloway, after a 12-year absence? Unfortunately for Rodney, black fans are not willing to spend their money to support him. Itís one of those puzzling questions, and I donít get it.  If Rodney had taken a Spanish surname as a ring name as I suggested, heíd have a bigger draw and a larger fan base.  As it is now, he has none.  Iím not even going to ask why he was absent for 12 years, why he never moved to Los Angeles, and why he remains in Stockton, where boxing has fallen off the map.  The truth is worse than weíd like to know. Stockton sucks.  And anyone who wants to make it as a boxer has to move to Los Angeles to be around big-named fighters, promoters and affluent supporters.  Rodney, like so many valley folk, seemed incapable of breaking away from whatever it is that they find so precious about Stockton. I donít see a thing.

 Boxing is business.  Itís about the money and thatís what makes it what it is. No fans, no ticket sales, no money, equals no shows. The name of the game in boxing is MONEY. Anyone who doesnít think so must also believe Bush is a real fighter pilot. Don King could care less about right or wrong, good or bad.  Itís about the money. There is no advantage in Spinks fighting a no-name boxer like Jones. Sorry, Rodney.

 Sad to say, but Rodney let opportunity pass him by when he decided to stay in Gun Smoke, and not make a drive for greatness.  Life is about choices; all choices have consequences; and playing it safe never got anyone anywhere. At 38 years old, Rodney is way past his prime. His life is filled with shoulda, coulda, wouldas.  Itís too bad; but life goes on.  Iíve always liked him. I hope he wins. Iíve been beating the drums for him for years, but Iím afraid, heíll join the ranks of almost-famous fighters from Stockton who never made it, because they could not defeat their small-valley town mentality.

Boxing fans will be sad to learn Trevor Berbick, former heavy weight champion was murdered.  He won the title from Pinklon Thomas and lost it soon thereafter to Mike Tyson, then 20, by KO in the second round, making Mike the youngest heavyweight champion in1986. What could have our former hero been up to? and what got him into that predicament?

As dark news continues, Americans are arriving in body bags from Iraq bringing more despair.  It is no wonder I cling to one of the few things that still makes sense in my life, and I gotta say, ďThank God for Boxing!Ē

Always in Your Corner,

Jorge A. Martinez