Thank you Cisco for taking the time to introduce us to the Tazmanian Boxing Club based in Carson City, Nevada.
Q1. Firstly, could you tell us for how long the club has been running, and what inspired you to set it up in the first place? Could you introduce us briefly to the team that work alongside you?
First of all, I would like to say thank you for the opportunity to share our story and our love of boxing with your readers. Tazmanian Boxing Club started very casually by a single question. It had been 12 years since my last professional fight and I was working at a local hospital and training part-time at a local gym. I had a young man knock on my door and ask if I would train him. I said ‘No, that I wasn’t involved in the sport anymore to that extent” and I referred him to another local club. Afterwards, I couldn’t get the boys question out of my mind. It bothered me so much to say no to this young man, that I went and found him and told him I would train him part-time. I am the father of six children myself so I couldn’t imagine at the time being able to train him full time. Within six months I had 12 kids training out of my double car garage. I had a few young men who I really saw potential in and next thing I knew my part-time plan was out the window, and I was back training full time while balancing a wife, six kids, two jobs and reffing soccer matches on the weekends.
Over the years we have built a strong team and developed programs that we never even dreamed of. One of my right-hand men with it all is Michael Varner. I had been running the gym for about a year, and we had moved from my garage to a 4000 sq ft location I had been able to find at a discount. I saw this tall white guy in a suit and cowboy boots walk in the door with two boys. He said he wanted to sign his boys up for training. I said ‘What about you?’ ‘I’m too old” he said. I said ‘How old are you?” He said ‘34 years old.’ I said ‘I’m almost 40 and I’ll whoop you with one hand and eyes closed!’ We both laughed and he said ‘I’ll be there on Monday!’ Mike started out training and competing as one of my fighters but I saw his ability to coach and the rest is history. We have also developed a female cardio-boxing program which I started about 5 years ago in my garage. We have had such a response, that we have had to open multiple sections. What has given me the ability to offer more in the avenue of cardio and personal training is the addition of Mike’s wife Desiree Varner. She had been working as a certified personal trainer in another gym and was the perfect addition to the team. Our cardio programs have developed into a tight-knit family like unit and are a major part of our gym. She, along with my wife Maribel, has since become a janitor, team mom, bookkeeper, and much more.
Through co-worker and local physical therapist Nina Vogel, we have become the only affiliate of Rock Steady Boxing in Northern Nevada. Rock Steady Boxing Northern Nevada is a fitness boxing program that is designed to aid those afflicted with Parkinson’s disease in our local community. This program has become a big part of who we are we have seen some amazing results! It all would not be possible without our group of talented coaches which bleed and sweat with us every night and are doing the real work of building boxing in Northern Nevada. Without Manuel Tello, Jorge Garcia, Michael Galindo, Dan Morse, and Vicente Esparza we couldn’t even open the doors at night.
Q2. The area around Carson City used to have a bustling boxing scene but has since become less known for its boxing with the majority of bouts and training camps taking place in nearby Las Vegas. What do you think caused this downturn in shows being put on, and what effect do you feel it has had on grass route level fighters in the area?
When I was young and coming up in the sport in early 90’s there was a bustling amateur and professional scene in Northern Nevada. It was a golden age of boxing in this area. Julio Cesar Chavez and Oscar de la Hoya trained locally and Don King would bring his fighters to Carson City to spar. Top Rank used to do shows every six months with world-class fighters like Jorge Peaz competing. I was able to compete in 136 amateur fights and had constant sparring action during my amateur career. It seemed like we had more opportunity to succeed back then in the sport of boxing. Throughout my career, I was able to compete professionally locally regularly. As time has gone by we have watched excitement drain from the area for various reasons. I remember how exciting it was back then and I see a lot of similarity between what is happening in your scene in the UK and Ireland right now. Lately, we have been having a hard time even finding bouts for our amateur fighters locally. Often we have to drive over 200 miles one way to take our fighters to compete. This has had a negative effect on our fighters motivation to train and stay dedicated. We hope through various means to bring the excitement back to the local area and showcase our local talent to the world. We would also love our local area to be once again considered as an ideal training environment for world-class fighters competing in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Q3. One element of your mission as a boxing club is to work within the community to help people from all socioeconomic backgrounds get involved with the sport. Can you tell us how you go about doing this, and what your longer-term aims are to continue being able to support all aspiring boxers no matter their background?
When I was a kid growing up I started going down a bad path and got involved with street life and put myself in bad situations. I started taking boxing serious when I was 16 and set a goal of becoming a professional fighter by the age of 18. One Friday night a group of friends invited me to a party. I didn’t go with them because the next day I had a boxing match. That night my friends were involved in a shooting which left one dead and one with a life sentence. I credit my involvement with boxing with saving my life. I was given the opportunity to train even though I was not able to afford it by working with younger kids. I used this to both change my outlook on life and the outlook of the next generation of boxers coming up at the time. My goal at this stage of my life is to repay the favour I was given. Even if a kid cannot afford it I never turn anyone away. There is always something that can be done whether it be cleaning the gym or helping to train the youngest groups in basics.
Q4. You all are obviously a highly driven team with great ambition. What would you want to see happen in the next five years in order to be able to call it a successful period?
Our goal over the next four years locally remains the same as it has been from the beginning, to serve our community by keeping kids off the streets and surrounded with positive mentors through the sport of boxing. We also aim to increase the opportunities our local fighters have to compete and increase their ability to better their lives. We hope to better the next generation by putting the work in now. We also aim to expand our programs serving the senior citizens of Northern Nevada because we have seen the dramatic difference it makes in their lives. We have a great talent pool up here and we truly believe we can develop that talent to produce world champion fighters. We have broader goals of building strong bridges in the UK and Mexico to show our kids that nothing is impossible and dreams can come true with hard work and dedication. We don’t care how long it takes we want to do something that has never been done locally and bring back the glory days of boxing to Northern Nevada to allow our fighters to experience the excitement I experienced in my youth.
Q5. You mentioned earlier about your Super-Middleweight prospect Ivan Contreras. What are your plans for him over the next 12 months? What can you see him doing in the sport? What is your aim for him long term?
Ivan Contreras is a talented young man with unlimited potential. He is a tall super middleweight with great footwork, punching power, and hand speed. We are very excited about his future and over the next couple of months, we want to keep him constantly active and sharpen him even further. We have plans for his first professional fight by the end of this year. We have planned to introduce him to Mexico, but think that the UK fans would love his style and we would be open to his debut on British soil. As with any young fighter, we believe that the future now lies with the amount of hard work Ivan is willing to put into his own success and we will be here to support him with all he needs to achieve his goals of being a world champion.