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Ahead Of Andy Ruiz’s Rematch, Young Fighters In Imperial Valley Aim For Boxing Greatness

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Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Six months ago. Imperial Valley boxer, Andy Ruiz shocked the world when he became the heavyweight champion. Upsetting the heavily favored Anthony Joshua with their rematch set for this weekend. KPBS reporter max Rivlin Nadler met with young boxers in Calexico, a region that has moved from the periphery to the very center of the boxing world

Speaker 2: 00:25 after school every week, day 14 year old Genesis Garcia comes to a converted warehouse a mile from the us Mexico border in Calexico. There's a ring, a few punching bags, and a lot of jump ropes. The Baja boxing club is where Garcia's own title quest begins.

Speaker 3: 00:42 I like once you're in the ring and just the adrenaline when you start fighting.

Speaker 2: 00:48 Garcia is already the national champion for our age group and weight class and regularly spars with boys her own age and much older girls.

Speaker 3: 00:57 If you don't get punched, you're not going to have the motivation punch back. You know, if you're gonna look bad, if you don't punch back

Speaker 2: 01:04 like the two dozen other boxers in the gym on Thursday night, ranging in age from five to their early twenties Garcia looks up to the 30 year old heavyweight champion and you were weeds who like them, learn to fight on both sides of the border.

Speaker 3: 01:17 It felt great because it put the city on the spot. Imperial Valley Garcia

Speaker 2: 01:26 spars with Alex [inaudible] and seems to smile a little every time she gets punched before immediately recovering and punching back. The 15 year old GaN slightly bloody after a flurry of punches from Garcia is preparing to fight in Mexicali on Saturday just hours before Ruiz fights across the world in Saudi Arabia where Rees's rise helped propel Guian in the ring.

Speaker 3: 01:49 Motivates you like to become like a champion one day. Like from here from Imperial Valley.

Speaker 2: 01:57 Boxing remains popular in the Imperial Valley even as the sport has lost popularity nationwide. Still many boxers here feel as if the region is overlooked even as it's punched well above its weight. For years. RO Lao has run the bajo boxing club for over 10 years. Like everyone else who grew up around boxing on the California Mexico border. He knew Ruiz from his earliest fights. He says that Ruiz has shown the fighters that you can do anything. Nothing is impossible in life. He believed that he could be champion and now he is. It's entirely possible that another champion could come out of the Valley. 13 year old Sarah, he Sanchez first came to the gym with her older brother over a year ago. She describes her style of boxing as fought the daughter.

Speaker 3: 02:43 You throw a lot of punches, you go forward and you keep on going.

Speaker 2: 02:49 Sanchez also has a big fight set for this Saturday. Her words of advice for Andy Ruiz.

Speaker 3: 02:55 Well, good luck. Try your best and we'll you can do it.

Speaker 4: 03:00 [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 03:00 the bell rings after two hours of training as the young boxers set off into the desert night, some are heading to Mexicali for another training session. Others had homework on Saturday. Their eyes will turn to a match across the world. As the first ever Mexican American heavyweight champion tries to defend his title and prove to the world that the road to boxing greatness now runs through the Imperial Valley. Max Roven Adler, K PVS news.

Six months ago, Imperial Valley boxer Andy Ruiz shocked the world when he became the heavyweight champion, upsetting the heavily favored Anthony Joshua. Now, on the eve of their rematch, young boxers in Calexico are looking to follow in his footsteps.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.