Houston’s Eric Manriquez impresses in Laredo

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On Friday July 26, 2021 Triple A Promotions staged an eight bout professional boxing card in Laredo, Texas. The event, held at The Laredo Energy Arena featured evenly matched bouts from start to finish, with the majority of match-ups being contested between boxers with similar records and experience. This was a refreshing get away from the unevenly matched bouts being offered by many promotion companies as of late, where the results of the bouts are almost a foregone conclusion before the bouts even start.

Professional boxing is a business and a sport but what makes it fun is when you don’t know what will happen and bouts are competitive. We all want to see our favorite boxers win and as fans we understand a boxer has to “build up” a winning record while gaining experience, but matching boxers up with opponents that offer little to no resistance cheats the paying customers and the boxer himself, because he gains very little in winning these type of matches. With that being said, congratulations to Triple A Promotions for the competitive bouts they offered us on Friday night.

The event featured many boxers from Laredo and the surrounding areas, but Houston’s Eric Manriquez may have stole the show with a beautiful display of boxing in a six round bout. Coming into the bout Manriquez held a record of 6-3-0 with 1 no contest, and was matched up with hometown boxer and rising prospect Jorge Ramos, who had gone 6-0  prior to Friday night.

Manriquez was an elite amateur who fought many of the best boxers available and was very successful, winning several regional and state golden gloves championships. He started his professional career with six straight wins, before having some personal issues and losing three out of his last four bouts, with his one win later being changed to a no contest. Due to his recent run of tough luck, Manriquez may have been chosen as an opponent for Ramos to display his skills and pick up a win, but Manriquez, now training with Rene Vasquez at Legions Boxing Gym in Houston, Texas, came to Laredo well prepared and ready to win.

The six-round bout was hotly contested as both boxers came into the bout in shape and with every intention of winning. Both boxers displayed high level boxing skills and both boxers were able to land hard punches at different points in the bout. It was Manriquez though that seemed to do the better work throughout the six rounds, boxing beautifully as I mentioned before, and also landing hard left hooks that shook Ramos and appeared to have given Ramos more than he expected from Manriquez.  Although at 5’4 Manriquez was the shorter boxer by six inches, he was able to outbox Ramos from long range, mid-range, and in close quarters, getting the better of the majority of exchanges. Manriquez was on balance and in control for most of the bout and even though the judges only gave him a draw for his efforts, he seemed to have revitalized his young career with his spirited effort.

On a positive note for Manriquez, Floyd Mayweather Sr. was in attendance and watched the Ramos vs Manriquez bout. Floyd Sr. was so impressed by Manriquez that he took the time to speak to him after the bout and invite him to The Mayweather Boxing Gym to train with Floyd Sr. and the rest of The Money Team. This was a testament to top notch boxing education Manriquez has received throughout the years, being trained at different times by some of the best coaches in Houston including the late, great, Kenny Weldon, Monte Lane, Rudy Silva, Ronnie Shields, David Pereida, his father David Manriquez and currently Rene Vasquez at The Legions Boxing Gym in Houston, Texas.  With his past personal issues seemingly in order and with an invigorated, fierce approach to boxing again, along with the lessons in big time professional boxing he will undoubtedly learn soon at The Mayweather Gym, the future seems bright for young Eric Manriquez.

The American Boxing Organization

The American Boxing Organization, (A.B.O.) is an American company based in Illinois, that governs Regional, National, and Intercontinental Title bouts throughout the Americas,(North America, Central America, South America, The Caribbean, The Bahamas, and Puerto Rico).  Founded in 2014, the A.B.O. is an organization that was created with the goal of giving boxers from The United States, as well as all of The Americas an opportunity to compete for titles respective to their skill levels, while inspiring them to greater heights. The organization has made great strides in a few short years, having former and current world champions and contenders holding A.B.O. titles, including Intercontinental Jaguar Champion  Alfonso “El Tigre” Lopez and Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade.

Francisco “Paco” Leal of Atzlan Boxing(South Houston) is A.B.O President and The A.B.O. has been very involved in Houston and Texas boxing since it’s inception. A.B.O. Champions currently residing in Texas include; Alfonso “El Tigre” Lopez, Chris Faz, Jesse Hernandez, Alex Mojica, Alejandro Del Bosque, Luis Saveedra, and Shamarian Snider.  The A.B.O. has title bouts coming up this weekend in Dallas, and again next month in Pasadena, proving that this is an organization that is doing everything it can to act as advocates for boxers in Houston, and all over Texas.

The organization governs rankings and title bouts on three different levels.  American Regional, American National, and recognized as their highest honor, The Intercontinental Jaguar Champion. I caught up with A.B.O. CEO Juan Curiel and asked him what the significance of the “Jaguar Championship” was and why it was regarded as their highest honor. Curiel explained that the jaguar is the only big cat that is indigenous to The Americas, and with it’s ferocity and strength, it’s a revered animal that is featured in many of the religious beliefs and histories of indigenous American cultures. The black jaguar, (also informally known as a black panther) is particularly revered in indigenous American cultures, believed to be a wholly different type of jaguar by those cultures. To the indigenous American cultures the black jaguar is respected as the most fierce and strong of all jaguars, even holding a godlike status on occasion. The American Boxing Organization Intercontinental Jaguar Championship is the highest honor that can be possibly earned from The A.B.O.  and a “Jaguar Champion” will always be an elite boxer.  The jaguar is at the top of the food chain in the animal world of The Americas, and an Intercontinental Jaguar Champion is at the top of the food chain in boxing.



Concussions and Protecting Your Boxers

boxing training, boxing safety, brain injuries, safe boxing practices

As much as we all love to “win” and prove we are the best at what we do, we must always remember that our boxers safety is paramount as well the safety of every person that steps into our gym, whether or not they are “our” boxers.  Nothing screams “rookie” more than only looking out for your “star” boxers, or the boxers you think can win boxing matches. Remember in life just as in any type of battle, we are only as strong as our weakest link.

With that being said, first of all we must give our boxers the tools they need to be able to protect themselves in the ring, as well as be successful. Notice I said protect themselves in the ring before I said being successful? That means your boxers should exhibit in training and practice sparring that they are able to effectively move around the ring in every direction, as well as defend the punches that will be coming their way, while having more than “shelling up” as a means of defense when things get hectic in the ring. This is primary with throwing punches being secondary, not the other way around.

I don’t pretend to be the inventor of these ideas there are many great coaches that I’ve learned from throughout the years and those coaches in turn learned from established coaches that came before them. The lineage goes as far back as the late 1800’s and early 1900’s from places such as Houston, Galveston, New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, etc.  Having winning boxers is fun but having the integrity to make sure you are continuously learning and giving your fighters every chance possible to stay safe and healthy, is number one.

One of the most common injuries “seen'” but not always acknowledged is a concussion.

A concussion is generally defined as “a brain injury caused by a blow to the head or a violent shaking of the head and body”. It basically means your brain gets shook inside your skull and bounces of your skull, causing an injury. A person does not have to get hit to the head to get a concussion nor do they have to lose consciousness.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion include:

Dizziness                                                   Seizure
Drowsiness                                              Confusion
Headache                                                  Blurred vision
Loss of Consciousness                      Sadness
Nausea or vomiting                             Difficulty concentrating
Irritability                                                  Just “not feeling right”
Amnesia                                                    Feeling as if “in a fog”
Sensitivity to noise
Balance problems
Feeling slowed down
Being more emotional than usual
Sensitivity to light
Fatigue or low energy
Neck pain
Difficulty remembering

This isn’t an all encompassing list of symptoms and signs, it’s just a general guideline, if you feel you or someone you know may have gotten a concussion don’t hesitate to see a doctor. There are short term and long term effects of concussions and every concussion leaves permanent damage to your brain. Also you become more and more susceptible to concussions after every concussion you suffer, and your likely-hood of suffering long term effects increases with every concussion.

Long-term effects include:

Memory loss
Cognitive disorders(problems thinking through things)
PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Substance Abuse
Poor physical performance
Lack of energy or enthusiasm

USA Boxing has guidelines for boxers that get stopped by knockout or technical knockout in competition, and in my opinion the same guidelines should be followed in the gym when guys get hurt sparring. Their guidelines are as follows:

First time, the boxer should not box or spar for 30 days.
Second time, the boxer should not box or spar for 90 days.
Third time, the boxer should not box or spar for one year.

In my opinion this is why we should take the time to teach the art of hitting while not getting hit as best we can before we send these kids into the ring, and also we should all have a set of guidelines the kids must meet before we let them spar, and again before they compete. This isn’t something I came up with, this is something I’ve seen practiced in the most successful gyms by the most successful coaches out there,in my times in the sport. Boxing, as well as all martial arts can benefit our lives as well as the lives of our students in many ways other than competition and accolades, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Love and respect to one and all.

Everett “Big Foot” Martin

Born and raised in Houston, Texas,  Everett “Big Foot” Martin faced a virtual who’s who of boxing in the heavyweight division, in a professional career that spanned from 1984 to 2001. Bigfoot also may hold the all-time record for most heavyweight world champions faced, having faced 16 in his professional career, at one point facing 9 in a row!

He began his professional career as a light-heavyweight and cruiser-weight but competed as a heavyweight for most of his career, even though he was relatively small in stature for that division.  Although he gave up size for most of his career and faced a murderer’s row of opposition, he was never knocked out and would only be stopped by T.K.O. several times during the tail-end of his career when he was already “tired and worn”. 

“Big Foot” was a journeyman that would fight anyone, anywhere, many times with no training camp and on short notice, but still managed to always be competitive, and give the boxing fans an entertaining fight win, lose, or draw. He also held Olympic Champion Chuck Walker to a draw, beat Jesse Selby, Sherman Griffin, “Smoking” Bert Cooper, and Tim Witherspoon by decision, along with knocking down Micheal Moorer.

In an amazing professional career that took him all over the world, he faced many top contenders and champions including:

Jesse Shelby, Sherman Griffin, Olympic Champion Chuck Walker, Kevin Kelly, Vincent Boulware, Tony Willis, Bert Cooper, Johnny Du Plooy, Dwight Muhammad Qawi, George Foreman, Gary Mason, Pierre Coetzer, Francesco Damaini, Micheal Moorer, Riddick Bowe, Tim Witherspoon, Tony Tucker, Larry Holmes, Herbie Hide, Tony Tubbs, Lance Whitaker, Wladimir Klitschko, Danell Nicholson, Lamon Brewster, Fres Oquendo, Joe Hipp,James “Bonecrusher” Smith, Obed Sullivan, David Bostice, Siarhei Liakhovich, and Ruslan Chagaev!

Originally from Fifth Ward, he would later move to Houston’s South Park neighborhood, where he began learning to box first from his mother Mary Martin, who he described as a “tough, street fighting woman” and  “Big Al” Alfred Leon Willis, who taught and trained neighborhood boys to box in parks, back yards, and anywhere in the neighborhood, especially in the courtyard of The Villa Americana Apartments. “Big Foot” said that “Big Al” and his mother taught him everything he needed to know in boxing and although he would work with other coaches in his professional career, he would always depend on what he learned from his mother and “Big Al” to get him through anything, along with his faith in God.

A big kid in his youth with a good heart, “Big Foot” hated to see smaller, weaker kids getting bullied in school and would defend them by telling their tormentors, “Hey man, what are you picking on him for, he’s just here doing what he has to do, just like you”. This would inevitably lead to fights with those same bullies and though he didn’t like fighting, backing down wasn’t an option on the streets of South Park and Fifth Ward. After getting in trouble at school for fighting but not necessarily at home since he was fighting to protect those being bullied, his mother decided he needed to box to keep him out of trouble and off the streets. This was when she brought him to “Big Al” Alfred Leon Willis to introduce him to amateur boxing.

“Big Foot” stated he didn’t like boxing initially but eventually became very good at it, partly because “Big Al’s Boxing Club” sparred in the Villa Americana Apartments courtyard and he “Didn’t want to look weak in front of all the homeboys”.  He also said that once he started becoming proficient in boxing he began to see boxing as a way he could eventually take care of his family, which was a strong motivation for him. This outlook served “Big Foot” well as he became an elite amateur boxer, winning The Houston Golden Gloves, Open Division, Heavyweight Championship in 1981, 1982, and 1983.

I asked “Big Foot” what skills he learned from “Big Al” that enabled him to become known as one of the toughest, most fearless boxers to ever grace the ring and he said, “He first taught me how to stand correctly and on balance, then how to move in and out and side to side, to be in condition, how to remain calm in the ring, protect myself, control my breathing and punches, and to make my opponent fight how I wanted him to fight, not how he wanted to fight”

I met “Big Foot” only once before calling him today for a phone interview and I must add that he was very gracious about sharing information about his life in and out of boxing. Our interview eventually became more of a private conversation and as a lifelong participant, coach, and fan of boxing I asked him many questions as much as for my personal interests as for this article.  One of the main things that intrigued me was how he was able to be competitive against all the contenders and champions he faced over the years without ever being knocked out or seriously injured. “Big Foot’s” response was simple and direct.

“The only reason to be scared of those guys would have been if they were able to hit me and hurt me and I wasn’t about to stand there and let them hit me without moving around and hitting them back, that’s why it’s called BOXING”.



Sammy Fuentes / Houston Golden Gloves Boxing Icon

Sammy Fuentes boxed for The Magnolia “Y” Boxing Team until the “Y” closed down, then he and Oscar Trevino went to Kenny Weldon’s Galena Park Boxing Academy, where Sammy boxed for Kenny’s team as an amateur, then later as a professional.

Sammy was a Houston Golden Gloves Champion in the Open Division in 1978, as a Light-Flyweight, in 1979 as a Flyweight, in 1980 as a Flyweight, and in 1981 as a Bantamweight.

Sammy also boxed as a professional, compiling an excellent record of 15 wins with 3 of those wins coming by knockout, against only 1 loss and 1 draw.