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Cleveland pugilists dominate PRCC’s boxing tournament

By Ingrid Marie Rivera, La Prensa Correspondent

LORAIN: Puerto Ricans brought one of their most cherished sports to Lorain this past Saturday, June 20, 2009. Roughly 500 people filled the Spartan Building for a boxing event, featuring Lorain fighter Wilkins Santiago and a celebrity match between Lorain Mayor Anthony Krasienko and Lorain business owner Mike Kennedy.

The boxing program, sponsored by the Puerto Rican Cultural Committee, was for honoring the Puerto Rican community in light of its selection as this year’s Lorain International Festival spotlight nationality.

The event also served as a fundraiser for Lorain’s Freddy’s Boxing Club. About half of the fighters represented the Lorain gym and others came from Cleveland, Elyria, Akron, and Lakewood. But Freddy’s Boxing Club fell short as only one of its fighters was victorious. Lorain’s Angel Figueroa defeated Lakewood’s Mohamad Bodair, with his quick and unyielding right jabs.

“I trained real hard. I feel real good right now,” Figueroa said of his victory.

The Cleveland fighters were the most victorious as all seven won their bouts.

For the main event, Wilkins Santiago would once again square off with the No. 1 ranked boxer in the United States—Terrell Gausha. Santiago had a chance to redeem himself Saturday after losing to Gausha in the Cleveland Golden Gloves Tournament earlier this year, but he failed.

A right jab from Gausha sent Santiago to the canvas in the beginning of the third round, and the audience responded with roars of disapproval.

“I was tired,” Santiago said “I thought I had it but he got that good punch in the third round. He was the better man tonight,” Santiago said.

Santiago’s cousin, Sito Guzmán, who was on the balls of his feet and waving the Puerto Rican flag while watching the fight, said he was disappointed. “He hasn’t fell. I was surprised to see that,” Guzmán said “If anything, this will make him stronger for the pros,” he said.

Saturday’s fight was Santiago’s last amateur bout, as he plans to go professional.

Cleveland’s Gausha said his hard training paid off. “It feels great. I worked hard,” Gausha said “Hopefully now I’ll win the gold medal and then take it from there,” Gausha said.

The celebrity boxing match between Mayor Krasienko and Kennedy ended the evening. Their fight was found a draw although Krasienko, 39, dominated the fight and even knocked Kennedy, 59, to the canvas in the third round.

“We know the sport of boxing is very important in the Puerto Rican community,” Krasienko said “I’m all about the city of Lorain. If this is a way that I can help out to make (the International Festival) successful, I’m happy to do it,” Krasienko said about his decision to take on such a fight.

Krasienko said he had a newfound respect for boxers and said “It was fun,” at the end of his three-round bout.

“I never realized how much endurance, speed, and agility you need to be a good boxer,” Krasienko said.

Kennedy said the training for the boxing event has helped him greatly.

“I’ve reinvented myself,” Kennedy said “I went from having a big belly to a little belly. The mayor has me outweighed by about 20 years and 44 pounds but I don’t think he’ll hurt me too badly,” he said before the fight.

Freddie Barreiro, of Freddy’s Boxing Club, has been training boxers ranging from 8 to 28 years old for 35 years. Before that, Barreiro was an amateur fighter in Puerto Rico.

Training for boxing “It’s a lot of work but it’s fun,” Barreiro said “Once you get in shape, you feel good,” he said.

Dennis Flores, Lorain city councilman and member of PRCC, said organizing the boxing match was highly challenging. 

“This is probably as big of a challenge as I’ve ever been involved with,” Flores said “But these kids (from Freddy’s gym) work hard. Freddie has been a good mentor for the kids to keep them out of trouble. That’s a great passion of his,” he said.





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