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


Special Edition
Otis, Stan and Brandon
Sacramento, CA
November, 15, 2005

The business of boxing creates strange changes in individuals. In some it brings out the best, in others not so good. People forget their actions dedicate who they are. Its what we do that matters. It’s usually a choice between what is right and what is easy. What is easy is usually not the best way to handle a situation. As an example, I attended a Public Relations event staged by Arco Arena at a Sacramento¹s Boys Club. Its goal to increase attendance at their up coming show on Nov. 17th.

As far as I know I was one the only sportswriter present. I did see a “TV” celebrity, although, I don’t know his name. The event was a drum banging success. The event offered a “Fitness Clinic”, put by Otis Griffin, winner of The Next Great Champ, of recent past and regular at Arco. As usual, I was trying to accomplish several objectives at once by coordinating my activities. I scheduled to meet with Olympic Boxing Team Members Stan Martyniouck, (132 lbs.) and Brandon Gonzales (178 lbs.), whom I met at the Mexico Vs USA boxing contest in San Francisco, on Oct. 30, of this year. (See last Jorge’s Corner), It was a great event put on my Oscar Tendedora, who set a new standard for pre-fight shows. His pre-fight show would match anything seen in Las Vegas.

The event appeared to have all the markings of a disaster. There were one hundred and fifty kids. They were 7 to 15 years old. Not an easy group to manage and a challenge even for never-been-defeated, Otis Griffin. I expected trouble, as I could not imagine how Otis would control all the kids. I was surprised when Otis took center stage. I was impressed, not only that he was there, and taking on such a challenge, but that he did it so nonchalantly. I got a kick out of watching him. Otis might as well have been one of the kids. I am not sure who enjoyed it more. He became a kid and had as much fun as those he was teaching. I’ve seldom seen anyone assumed the characteristics of a kid as quickly as Otis. His winning smile, easy manner, and confidence easily overcame every obstacle. He proceeded to teach 150 kids how to do simple boxing movements. He then demonstrated that his accomplishments of spirit are as great as any in the ring, by an unselfish act. He introduced Stan Martyniouck, a member of the USA Olympic Boxing Team, then handed him the microphone. I was impressed. Otis earned a nomination to my “ Nicest Guy Award “ for the year, by simply sharing the stage, something rarely seen. My hat goes off to Otis Griffin, who proved he is no make-believe-professional-nice-guy, he is the genuine thing. No matter what else can be said about Otis Griffin, in or out of the ring. We, those who know him, even a little, can be proud to call him friend.

It must have been my day for surprises. I’d scheduled an interview with Brandon Gonzales and Stan Martyniouk after the event. They seem perfectly comfortable. Stan Martyniouk, was born in Russia, and speaks it fluently. As I spoke with Stan I was impressed not some much by his answers, which were well thought out, but by his steadfast focus on the task at hand. His is on a vision quest to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He has had to struggle every step of the way. He works at whatever job he can find, only to have to quit, because of his traveling with the team. He returns and finds himself unemployed. Minimum wage jobs don¹t wait even for those on the American Olympic Team. There are no special programs for struggling athletes. The City of Sacramento has yet to recognize their accomplishments and potential for public relations. They have yet to recognize their value as role models, and anti gang propaganda. With just a little public speaking training, these young men could be an asset to the city and it’s anti high school dropout campaigns. As it stands now, they get no special considerations. Employers don’t make it easier for them to participate as Native Sons of Sacramento. Life is tough, yet they keep reaching for the stars. The City Fathers remain ignorant and asleep at the wheel. 

I am very sad to report the promoters of the Nov. 17th event at Arco Arena, refused my request for passes for them to attend, even though there were plenty of empty sits. I lack the appropriate terms to describe my reaction. I have been in a sort of daze after being slapped with such harsh reality. I am still shocked at the callousness with which I was rebuffed. How can people who hope to avail themselves of these future Olympian, refused them a pass to their show? The Godfather once said, “be wary of refusing someone’s request, as no one ever forgets”. He also said, “This is the business we¹ve chosen”.

Stan and Brandon must sacrifice on many fronts. Stan has had to put his education on hold, as college would require loans, and continual attendance. Absences might be excused, but would affect his grades. I was impressed with Stan’s grasp of the situation, and his matter of fact manner of handling it. He stands alone, without assistance or hopes of receiving any. Yet, there are no tears, no poor-me routine, nothing but hard-core reality. He reminded me of the story of Jop in the bible. No matter what test man or God tosses in his way, he remains steadfast. I have to admire such bravery in the face of such cold indifference by those in positions to help. Lets hope the City Fathers of Sacramento will awaken and take them under their wings.

Brandon’s soft speaking manner, his quite confidence and smile made it easy to like him. He is another above average human being. Brandon attributes his focus to family and his Moslem religion. He related how during Ramadan, he has to get up at four a.m., and do seven miles of roadwork, so he can eat before sunrise, and remain within the rules of fasting. He stated that his religion made it easier for him to make weight. It gives him courage to face the endless challenges, and helps him remain strong within himself. These are all essential ingredients necessary to be a champion. I feel privileged to have met these young men.

Those of you who¹ve read my articles know I have had to bump heads with many people along the way. I’ve even received death threats. I¹ve often said there are many darks sides to boxing. This is why people like Otis, Stan and Brandon are so rare as. They help restore faith in humanity. Their hard work brings honor to boxing. I know that no matter what the future has in store for them, they will make the best of it, and do so with grace and style.

I wish I¹d had better luck with my efforts to obtain two guest passes for these young men from the promoters of the event, but I was shot down, and reprimanded for asking. A simple no would have been enough. I am proud of my response to the negative commentary that followed. I feel no regrets for having made an effort to help two future Olympians. I have resolved to help them along their way, and feel my request was right and proper. I’d like to see what they say in five years, after the Olympics. 

After interacting with Otis, Stan and Brandon, I refuse to be intimidated. I understand boxing is a business, yet I reject the idea two passes would have made a difference. I choose to believe there are people out there willing to help aspiring Olympians. We should remember that there will be dark days ahead and we will all be tested. We will have to choose between what is right, and what is easy. Helping Stan and Brandon along the way is the right thing to do. It is something boxing fans will support. Instead of rejecting Stan and Brandon, promoters at Arco Arena should be embracing them and seeking ways to be more helpful. I can¹t believe managers at Arco Arena fail to see the public relations potential in embracing two future Olympians. They must have mud in their eyes, and do-do for brains. I believe boxing fans will want to support such a worthy endeavor and so I gotta say Thank God for Boxing! . Anyone who wishes to help can contact me.

Always in Your Corner,

Jorge A. Martinez