On a recent visit to Las Vegas, it was another typical busy Friday night at the Capetillo Boxing Gym.
At one point in the night, Jorge Capetillo stopped the music and thanked some of the gym patrons who were there as special guests that night. After that it was a traditional “Happy Birthday” song for one of the young regulars at the gym who was celebrating a birthday.
In Capetillo Boxing there is always singing and cake for any of the members of the gym on their birthday. There is a sense of togetherness, support and gratitude between Jorge and his family, and the countless young fighters who walk through the doors each week.
Clearly, this gym is a special place for these youngsters.
Boxing is a tough sport, both at the amateur and professional level. While the gym is often home to some notable professionals and amateurs, most of the young boxers here come to the gym to get in shape, enjoy the camaraderie of the sport, and just be active the way youngsters like to. While most boxers in the gym won’t see their boxing career go much further than these walls, you’ll never know it by the way Jorge and his trainers treat each and every boxer that comes in – they’re all treated like champions.
The room fills with the typical gym sounds of the speed bag beat, boxing gloves hitting the big bags, jump ropes scraping the floor, and boxer gloves landing crisp punches on a trainer’s gloves. Above all is the thunderous voice of Jorge who shouts encouragement and praise to all the young people present. When you take an hour or so to work out at the Capetillo boxing gym, you are part of a community, part of a family. You are encouraged and supported to achieve whatever your goals are. There is no pecking order. Every young person here is treated with encouragement, love and respect.
The young athletes appreciate the kindness, support and care shown by Jorge, a father figure and big brother to many of the boys and girls heading to the gym.
Jorge has worked at different times throughout his career as a cutman and trainer with boxing’s elite, including Andy Ruiz, Tyson Fury, Jessie Magdaleno, Shakur Stevenson, the Vargas brothers and many, many others. However, one of his greatest joys as his coach is working with the dozens of boys and girls who come to his gym every day. Along with the help and support of his lovely wife Griselda and his children, the Capetillo Boxing Gym is making young people, many of whom will never have a boxing match, feel like champions.
Always humble and quick to praise others, Capetillo recently said, “The gym gives kids a place to feel safe, a place to go, a place to call home. They can get in shape, stay off the streets, learn to box. Maybe stay off their phones,” he said. “No Tic Toc-ing for a while,” he added with a smile.
Some of Capetillo Boxing’s boxers may have strong amateur careers, some might even fight professionally one day. Meanwhile, every fighter in the gym, from a novice amateur to a seasoned pro, feels like part of the family.
At a vulnerable and impressionable age, young people need a place to fit in, a place to call home. They need mentors and role models; At Capetillo Boxing they get all of that and more.
In life, people can forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Each boy or girl who crosses the doors of Capetillo Boxing, received with the support and kindness of the Capetillo family, feels like a champion.
That is a feeling they will never forget.
Next: Part 2–Interview with boxer Dylan Capetillo.