Young, local boxers have chance at nationals competition

Joy Wang

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Inside an Albuquerque apartment complex is a boxing club that used to be a storage room.

Coach Alejandro Castillo works at as a maintenance man in the complex.

“These kids work really, really hard,” Castillo said. “People don’t really understand all the work they put into the gym. We work five days out of the week. These kids run on a daily basis. I mean, this is a lot of work that goes into the boxing training.”

That hard work has paid off.

11-year-old Alejandro Castillo Jr., 12-year-old Ivan Watchman and 13-year-old Brandon Rodriguez all won a regional competition in California earlier this month.

“We couldn’t be any more proud,” Castillo said. “Out of 15 kids out of New Mexico, three of them made it and that’s our three. So we couldn’t be any more proud.”

He’s especially proud of how boxing has not only won the kids medals, but also taught them life lessons in the process.

“I learned discipline and self-confidence with myself,” Brandon said.

“I was training really hard every day. I was there and it was just blood, sweat and tears all the way there. I trained really hard, and I won the championship,” Watchman said.

So now, they’re headed to Missouri for nationals.

“I’m really excited about what’s coming up,” Alejandro said. “I think I got this. I already know I got it. My level of confidence is out of this world.”

But to get there, they have to raise enough money.

The boxing club is free and relies on volunteers and the community. Over the weekend of January 12th, they’re having a bake sale at the Walmart on Carlisle from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“It’s very important. Without this we couldn’t go to any of these tournaments,” Castillo said. “We couldn’t have these kids go in and compete and take advantage of these opportunities.”

Especially since it’s helped these kids gain a lot more than confidence.

“I was getting picked on a lot when I was in 5th Grade. Like, people kept pulling my hair, and now I stand up to them now by joining boxing, and they don’t pick on me anymore,” Ivan said.

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