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Imperial Valley Celebrates Hometown Hero And Heavyweight Boxing Champ Andy Ruiz, Jr.

 June 20, 2019 at 10:27 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Imperial Valley is pulling out all the stops to celebrate the victory of hometown boy Andy Ruiz Jr as the new heavyweight boxing champion of the world. A parade in rallies plan through the town on Saturday. Ruiz's upset victory over British fighter Anthony Joshua earlier this month makes him the first Mexican American heavyweight champ. Speaker 2: 00:22 Joshua looks so tired. [inaudible] Speaker 1: 00:31 victory has prompted a wave of cross border pride and Imperial County and Mexico. Joining me is Freddy to Ross's, he's a former boxer, an expert in the Imperial Valley boxing scene. He's also an advocate for nonprofit youth boxing programs. And Freddy, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me. Thank you. Now the boxing world is shocked by Andy Ruiz victory over the unbeaten and more athletic looking. Anthony. Joshua, were you shocked? Speaker 3: 01:02 I was shocked at how it happened, but I wasn't shot that. I'm the one I've known Andy, you know, most of his life and if you've seen how hard he's worked and how naturally gifted he is with his hand speed and movement. And if you understand boxing, then you know, it's not that big of an upset in the boxing world. But the knockout in the way that it happened after being dropped in the south was definitely a shock. That was an eye opener there. Speaker 1: 01:28 You first met Andy a race when he was nine and boxed at a gym in El Centro at that time. Did anything stand out to you about him? Speaker 3: 01:37 When I first saw Andie Rees, I'm, I met his dad and his dad would parade him around, you know, just like, oh look at my son, you know, and he was a little chubby kid and we wouldn't be like, okay, well what, what, what can he do? And then he would just start shadow boxing and doing meds and hitting the bag. And it was just amazing to see, um, someone of that physique with that ability, like so athletic and fast and powerful. I mean, he just amazed everybody he would show his skill set to at that age. Speaker 1: 02:07 Your stories about rubies always mentioned his extra weight and the fact that he doesn't look like the kind of guy we expect to win in the ring. How do you think his appearance has affected his career? Speaker 3: 02:18 You know what? I think in the beginning it definitely, um, put him at the, you know, at the worst end of things because of how he looked and people not really knowing who he was or knowing his background because he's one of the most experienced, probably the most experienced heavyweights out there right now. He's been boxing since he was six. That's 24 years of his life. Um, but now that he's where he's at, I think now it's going to benefit him because he looks like your home boy next door, you know, he looks like your buddy down the street and people love that. People love that, that authentic, you know, culture background that Andy brings and his looks just add more, more spice to the table man. So I think it's going to benefit him now even more that he's on top. Speaker 1: 02:59 What other kinds Speaker 3: 03:00 of challenges would a boxer from the imperial valley like Ruiz face in getting to the level that he's now at? You know, one thing that the imperial valley needs a lot is funding and allow more programs for, for a youth boxing because there's so much talent right here. Like any other border town, but like any other border towns, a lot of talent leaves to Mexico or to the nearest big city. Like for us being, you know, the Coachella valley or Los Angeles area where most of our telling goes to. But if the funding was here and the city back this up, we would have way more world champions and we do and barely our second world champion in the history of boxing. The last one being manual Ortiz back in the forties and 50s Speaker 1: 03:41 can you describe me? What is the boxing scene like in Imperial Valley? Speaker 3: 03:46 You know what, it's pretty active. It's very active. A lot of kids, almost everybody grows up boxing here. I mean if, if you haven't then you know someone that has, you know, but the lack of funding after a certain age is what kind of gets to everybody and, and eventually they ended up just looking for other careers or other sports. And it's unfortunate because we do have a lot of talent here, but it's just that the funding isn't here, but the, but the boxing community here for being such a small valley, it's pretty big. We have a lot of great amateur fighters here in the valley. Speaker 1: 04:15 You mentioned, uh, Andrew Ease is natural talent that you saw early on, but you also mentioned this championing of him by his father. What was his family support like? Speaker 3: 04:28 Um, yeah. You know what? I get asked that question a lot about what separates Andy from all these other local boxers and number one, hands down, it has to be that Andy has always had a huge, tremendous support system within his family, mainly his father that has been like a shadow to him. Put it this way. I've never seen Andy and Nazi his dad there ever, ever. And it's just something that I think in a sport where you don't have a team or three or four or five, six coaches, your, your family support comes firsthand and is definitely what got him to, Speaker 1: 04:58 is that now, now as you say, Andy's victories is bound to encourage a lot of local kids get involved in boxing. But let me just mention this, there's been a lot of warnings about the impact of boxing on brain health. Are you concerned kids may be endangering their longterm health by taking up this sport? No, because if done right, if done correctly, um, there's a lot more benefits to it. You know, studies have showed that football's worse and a lot of other, even cycling is a lot worse than, than the traumatic injuries that come from boxing. Um, and studies have shown that year after year, which, which surprises me that you would think that schools would offer at least some sort of boxing classes. Maybe not fights, but classes, because we're in 2019 and bullying is still an issue, yet they still allow such a brutal sport like wrestling. These kids are getting slammed in the head, choked out as a sport, nothing against wrestling. I'm just saying that in the combat roles in the combat sport world, how was boxing? At least the part of it not Speaker 3: 05:58 allowed in schools, but wrestling is that, that to me is crazy, but I don't think there's anything to worry about. Boxing has been around for over a hundred years and, and it's, it's been doing great, you know, and, and, um, I don't think that that it'll affect anybody in the long run, if done correctly. Of course, Speaker 1: 06:14 we've been talking about how big a deal this is. Andy Ruiz wins the heavyweight championship of the world and he's from imperial valley, but he is the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent. So what would you say his wind means to the Mexican community? Speaker 3: 06:32 It's huge. You know, because we have, we've had champions in every division. You know, when you, when you go down to as light as you know, flyweight up until you know, Walter middle, super middle. Um, I think we've had a champion in every division now except cruiserweight which is a division right under heavyweight. Um, but it's huge. It's huge because I was a void that many experts thought we'll never get fields by that, by the Mexican American or Mexican community because we're just not built that big. You know, we're not built that big at all. And the ones that are are, you know, they're freak of nature and they're doing other sports. But I think it's huge in the sense that nobody, even boxing experts, enthusiastic historians ever thought it'd be possible. Speaker 1: 07:12 Are you looking forward to a rematch between Ruiz, Ruiz and Joshua? Speaker 3: 07:16 I am. I'm actually looking forward to attended as well. It just came out today that Anthony Joshua has chosen Madison square garden again for the rematch, which is, which is great news. It will be on neutral turf once again. Speaker 1: 07:27 And when is that supposed to happen? Do we know yet? Speaker 3: 07:29 Um, they're saying they're, they're shooting. Um, November, December of this year. He wants his immediate rematch to happen asap. So they have a clause, which they did take, you know, when it happened. And from what I heard, Anthony wants it immediately. Speaker 1: 07:42 Okay. So we'll have to be watching for that. I've been speaking with former boxer and imperial valley boxing coach Freddy to Roz, US Freddy. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. It was a joy.

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A parade is planned through the city of Imperial on Saturday beginning at 8 a.m. at Fourth Street and Imperial Avenue and will end at Imperial High School where a rally will be held.
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