Growing up in a Mexican-American working class family and community, I remember how important sports were to most of my friends and their families. Particularly, I so remember the early 90’s and seeing a lot of Raider, Charger, Chivas de Guadalajara and America jersey’s and of course those of the Dodger’s and their blue and white hats with the iconic LA blazoned on the front. But my immediate family was different. My dad who in the early 1990’s sold automotive paint and painted cars was surprisingly not that much into the usual sports but all except for BOXING! At that point in time I remember the gatherings at my house when there was a Julio Cesar Chavez fight, a De La Hoya fight or a Maromero Paez fight. My dad would bring the TV outside, set-up a bunch of chairs, roll out the grill, fire up the mesquite and lay down the marinated carne asada before the first round bell. I remember how much fun those days were and how much pride people had in the Mexican fighters.
One of my most vivid and cherished memories of anything to do with boxing was again in the early 90’s. My Tio Amando, who has now since passed away, was a janitor at an elementary school in Mexicali. One Friday night he had set-up one of the classrooms for the family to watch a fight. I remember my family bringing beer and food and seeing my grandparents struggling to sit in those combination seat/desk things and enjoying the fight. I think of all the loud cheering that went on during that fight. That’s when I think of what the sport of boxing means to me. To me boxing is a connection to my family, my community, my childhood.
For a while I stopped following the sport of boxing. I went to college and could never seem to find the time or a special place to the watch the fights. But I got back into viewing boxing when Manny Pacquiao began catching the reputation for his style and relentless fighting ability. Quickly I became a fan and started following his career. That’s when I learned about his trainer, the Legendary Freddie Roach and Wild Card Boxing Club. He not only trains Manny but he has trained numerous boxing legends including, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins and Julio Cesar Chavez to name a few. Although many professional boxers and celebrities have entered through the doors into the humble surroundings of this club, there is no pretentious attitude that’s directed towards anyone. On my first visit as I walked up those stairs and into the Club, I saw a diverse crowd training here, boxers ranging of all ages, nationalities and gender. The Wild Card Boxing Club has a genuine welcoming spirit and the people Mr. Roach chooses to work with him also share that same quality.
I am humbled and honored to be given an opportunity to create a graphic art piece in collaboration with Freddie Roach and the whole Wild Card Boxing Club family. Originally the concept that I was given by WCBC was that they where interested in me creating a Mexcian themed graphic. I decided to create one of my iconic Dia De Los Muertos Calavera graphics with the theme revolving around boxing culture. While touring the Club, it was easy to notice that many flags of various countries were represented on the walls. They hung proudly as representatives proclaiming their respect and love for the sport of boxing. Although this was suppose to be a Mexican themed skull I wanted to make sure that this graphic is inclusive of the different nationalities that give so much to this rich culture. Hopefully it not only reflects my artistic feelings and love for the sport of boxing but to all those who love boxing as an art.