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Boxing saved the life of Two-Division World Champion “El Gallo” Jose Antonio Rivera

Like many boxers, two-division world champion “El Gallo” Jose Antonio Rivera credits boxing for saving his life.

“Absolutely,” Rivera agreed. “After my mom passed away when I was 10 years old, I gave up on life and my decision-making reflected that: hanging around with the wrong crowd including gang members, consuming alcohol between the ages of 10 and 15. I was definitely going in the wrong direction.

“I never thought I had a future until I started boxing. It’s hard to say what I’d be doing if I had never boxed, but by the way I was living, I’d probably be in jail or dead by now.”

Born in Philadelphia, Rivera lived in Puerto Rico and Springfield, MA, prior to him moving to Worcester, MA, where he met a man who helped change his life, Carlos Garcia, who was in charge of a special boxing program at the Worcester Boys & Girls Club.

Rivera had started boxing at the age of 14 ½ in a basement with his friend, Felix Lopez. He had fallen in love with boxing after watching Roberto Duran upset “Sugar” Ray Leonard in their first fight. The young Puerto Rican-American specifically used his amateur boxing experience to prepare for the professional ranks. Garcia, who is in the National Golden Gloves Hall of Fame, put him in a novice match after only one amateur fight in order to put Rivera on the fast track, because he understood that Rivera dreamed of becoming a world champion as a professional. Rivera finished with a 35-15 amateur record, highlighted by a bronze medal performance at the PAL Nationals.

“I never had big amateur aspirations but, of course, I wanted to win every fight I competed in,” Rivera said. “Once I didn’t qualify for the Olympic Trials, my plan was to turn pro. I didn’t know how much the amateurs would groom me to be a successful professional boxer. I’m glad I listened to my coaches, otherwise I would have turned pro earlier, because I would get frustrated with the politics of the amateurs. I hated losing, but I hated losing even more when I knew that I should have won. After three years together (with Garcia) in the amateurs and gaining a great wealth of experience traveling all over New England, the country and even fighting in Canada, I saw all types of styles and talented boxers that helped me as a pro. Carlos is like a father figure to me and during all of our training and travels, he was always in my head, building me up to become a good boxer, but also to help me become a better man.”

On November 7, 1992, Rivera made his pro debut, knocking out Francisco Mercedes in the second round. He went on to win his first 23 pro bouts, including the Massachusetts State welterweight title in 1995. His first pro loss was to veteran Philadelphia fighter Willie Wise (20-3-4), who won a controversial 10-round split decision at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. Rivera had proven that he was more than a prospect in his first loss, losing a close decision (98-95, 94-97, 94-96) to an opponent that upset Mexican icon Julio Cesar Chavez (102-3-2) only three years later.

Showing the same resiliency that stayed with Rivera his entire career, two fights later Rivera stopped Gilberto Flores in two rounds to capture the International Boxing Organization (IBO) world welterweight championship. Rivera extended his new win streak to seven, before losing back to back fights. Four fights later, though, Rivera registered his first statement victory in 2001, knocking out Frankie Randall (55-10-1) in the 10th round to retain his North American Boxing Association (NABA) crown in his first defense.

Now promoted by legendary Don King, Rivera traveled across the Atlantic Ocean in September 2003 to Germany, where few Americans were able to win. Rivera proved early that he meant business, dropping previously undefeated Michel Trabant in the second round en route to winning a 12-round majority decision for the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA). His reign, however, didn’t last long. In his first defense, Rivera lost a 12-round split decision at home in Worcester to challenger Luis Collazo (24-1)

Rivera moved up one weight class for his next fight, showing the resiliency that was a staple during his career for his next fight, also at home, against WBA junior middleweight World champion Alexandro Garcia (25-1).

In his next fight and first defense of his third world title, Rivera was stopped for the first time in his pro career, by new champ Travis Simms (24-0), and then he was knocked out by Daniel Santos (24-0) in round eight of their WBA junior middleweight title eliminator.

Rivera retired in 2008 only to make a comeback in 2001, after which he retired again until returning for two fights in Worcester to complete his pro career with 50 fights, the last coming at the age of 46.

“Jose’s USA Boxing experiences shaped him into the man of character he is today, both in and out of the ring,” said Chris Cugliari, USA Boxing Alumni Director. “He took the road less traveled for a world champion, and in doing so he showcased his toughness and perseverance that made him a great example for today’s USA Boxers.”

Rivera was a true working world champion. Few world champions also had full-time jobs during their title reigns. Rivera used vacation time, as well as personal and sick days, when he went to training camp for some of his major fights.
“I always had a good work ethic growing up,” he explained. “When I moved to Worcester at 16 years old, I lived by myself: school, work, and then to the Boys & Girls Club to train. I kept the same work ethic I had at 19 when I turned pro. I became a father at 20, so providing for my family was essential. Although it was hard, I knew boxing wasn’t going to last forever, and I was lucky enough to find a good job working for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Trial Courts. It made for long days when I was training, especially when I was fighting for or defending my world championships. In the end, though, keeping my job was the best decision I could have made for me and my family.”
Rivera. who was an Associate Court Officer for years and promoted last year to Assistant Chief Court Officer, is still involved in boxing. He and his oldest son, A.J. Rivera, own and operate a boxing promotional company, Rivera Promotions Entertainment, to give young fighters in his area opportunities to fight more often and at home. Jose occasionally drops by the Boys & Girls Club to visit his former coaches, Garcia and Rocky Gonzalez, to support their young talent. He also goes to his friend Kendrick Ball‘s gym, Camp Be Right, to give young fighters there a few tips and to keep in shape (not for another comeback).
Jose Antonio Rivera will be best known for his toughness and determination, which led him into a different life, including three world championships and a wonderful life he never would have enjoyed.
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Excitement Builds for New York City FC as training begins for MLS Season

Hope is starting to build as sports teams and Leagues are starting to figure out a way to bring back the excitement and passion of each sport back to its fans.

One of the team’s in New York City FC who announced that the Club will begin voluntary small group training this morning.

This comes after the Club’s introduction of voluntary individual outdoor player workouts on May 25.

After close consultation with our Chief Medical Officer and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, NYCFC submitted a club-specific plan to MLS for approval. NYCFC will implement detailed health and safety protocols during these workouts. Physical distancing will be maintained within the group setting, with players remaining in designated zones.

Building on the health and safety protocols implemented for voluntary  individual workouts, we will adhere to the following guidelines for voluntary small group sessions:

  • Clubs must utilize outdoor fields as indoor training facilities remain closed to all players with the exception of those requiring medical treatment or rehabilitation, under the direction of the team medical staff, that cannot be performed from the safety of their residences.
  • Clubs may divide each full field into a maximum of two equal halves and may assign a group of players to each full or half field.
  • Clubs may clearly define up to six zones per half field, spaced at least 10 feet apart. Only one player may be in a zone at any given time in order to maintain physical distancing standards throughout the session. For clarity, a maximum of six players may be assigned to a single group with each player accommodated in a separate zone.
  • During training sessions, players may switch zones within their own group only if another player is not currently in that zone and players must maintain a physical distance of at least 10 feet from all other players and coaches while moving between zones
  • Within a single group, players may pass the ball and shoot on goal; however, all training exercises must allow players to maintain a physical distance of at least 10 feet from one another.
  • Players may only train with the other players within their own group and may not interact with other groups. While the groups may not be rearranged during a single training session, clubs may rearrange the combination of players in each group from session to session.
  • Coaches and technical staff must wear a face mask at all times and may direct players from the perimeter of the field, never entering the field, while maintaining at least 10-feet of distance from other staff and players.
  • Only approved equipment may be used during training session including balls; small and regular goals; rubber dots; small discs and cones; rebounders; rings; GPS Pods and personal equipment that is not shared between players. Mannequins, poles, bands, weights and ball machines may not be used.
  • Goalkeepers may not spit on their gloves and must clean, disinfect and sanitize their gloves after each training.

This is a huge step for anyone who is a fan of sports, as everyone is looking for a beacon of hope and entertainment to get them through the new normal.

New York City FC Fans are encouraged to watch the following training session interviews with stars Herber and Keaton Parks, the video is compliments of New York City FC:

There is a lot to stay tuned for as both Major League Soccer and New York City FC are in the process of trying to figure out how to bring soccer back to the fans. We here at 1495Sports hope to have continued coverage from the team as things progress so be sure to stay tuned to this page along with clicking on the team’s official website for more information.

Team’s official website seen here:

https://www.nycfc.com/

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Black Wolves and Sun join forces with Connecticut sports teams in support of 4-CT

The New England Black Wolves and Connecticut Sun, along with the Hartford Athletic, Hartford Yard Goats, Connecticut Whale, Hartford Wolf Pack, Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Norwich Sea Unicorns, have joined together in support of 4-CT, a statewide COVID-19 relief fund.

The 4-CT Relief Fund was created to help the residents of Connecticut by directly connecting donors with the most pressing needs throughout the state. 4-CT has identified five main categories that support has been immediately directed to. The five main areas include emergency childcare for first responders, food insecurity, housing and homelessness, domestic violence and online education.

One hundred percent of proceeds will be directly allocated to the areas identified in need.

To watch the collaborative video head to the New England Black Wolves or Connecticut Sun social media accounts.

For more information on 4-CT or how to donate, visit www.4-ct.org.

For more information on the New England Black Wolves fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:

http://www.blackwolves.com/view/blackwolves

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New York Riptide Announce Staff Changes

The New York Riptide announced today that they have parted ways with head coach and general manager Regy Thorpe.

 

In addition to Thorpe, the coaching staff and lacrosse operations team will also not be retained for the 2020-21 National Lacrosse League season. The inaugural season for the New York Riptide concluded on April 8 as the NLL announced that the remainder of the 2019-20 regular season was cancelled due to concerns over COVID-19.

 

“I would like to thank Regy and the whole staff for helping set the foundation for the Riptide in their inaugural season,” said Rich Lisk, Executive Vice President of GF Sports. “While this was not a hasty or easy decision, I felt after evaluating our lacrosse operations department that this move was needed for the best interest of the organization. I look forward to putting together a staff that will help us become the premier team in the NLL on and off the field.”

 

Thorpe, hired on February 16, 2019 to serve as the first head coach in Riptide history, brought over 20 years of experience to the role. Prior to getting into coaching, he spent 15 seasons playing in the NLL, all with the Rochester Knighthawks. He won two NLL Championships during his tenure with the club.

 

“I’d like to thank GF Sports for the opportunity and respect their decision,” Thorpe said. “I’d also like thank my staff who worked tirelessly around the clock to put the work in to get a team off the ground. I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead this group of men and wish them continued success.”

 

For more information please visit https://newyorkriptide.com/

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St. John’s Basketball Afternoon Chat with Bill Wennington Set for June 9

The St. John’s men’s basketball program will host An Afternoon Chat with Bill Wennington on Tuesday, June 9, at 1 p.m. virtually through the University’s WebEx platform. Wennington who is a three-time NBA Champion and St. John’s great will reflect on “The Last Dance” documentary as well as talk St. John’s hoops with Head Coach Mike Anderson. St. John’s Director of Athletics Mike Cragg will also join the conversation while FOX Sports analyst Vin Parise will host the Q&A session.

All fans and supporters are invited to join St. John’s Basketball Afternoon Chat with Bill Wennington. To register and submit questions please visit www.StJohns.edu/ChatWithBill.

After a decorated playing career at St. John’s, Wennington reached the pinnacle of the sport by winning three NBA championship rings as a member of the Chicago Bulls (1996, 1997, 1998). The final title campaign was chronicled in the recently released 10-part documentary “The Last Dance” with never-before-seen footage and captivating interviews, including Wennington, who shared his memories from the historic season.

The Montreal native starred at St. John’s from 1981-85 and is one of only nine players in program history with more than 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocks. Wennington was an All-BIG EAST honoree as a senior, helping the Redmen post a 31-4 record and garner the No. 1 ranking in the nation as part of a season that culminated with a trip to the Final Four.

In his first season at the helm of the St. John’s Basketball program, Anderson guided a youthful squad featuring eight newcomers to 17 wins and had the Johnnies in position for their second straight postseason berth. It was also Anderson’s 18th consecutive season as a head coach without a losing record. St. John’s played some of its best basketball down the stretch by winning three of its last four games including victories over No. 10 Creighton, Marquette and Georgetown in the BIG EAST Tournament.

For more information on the St. John’s Men’s Basketball team fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:

https://redstormsports.com/

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Flashback Series Video of the Day: Interview with Basketball Legend Teresa Weatherspoon

1495Sports is honored to bring this Flashback Series interview with Basketball Legend Teresa Weatherspoon from 2015. In it Teresa shares about the importance of basketball and being able to give back to others and other amazing topics:

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Flashback Series Video of the Day: New York Riptide Press Conference

1495Sports is proud to bring the following video from the inaugural New York Riptide season. This was after the team’s historic first victory of the season against the Georgia Swarm: