Amateur boxing, as in the professional ranks, has been shut-down worldwide due to the Coronavirus pandemic. USA Boxing members are adjusting to these challenging and trying times all across the country.
Gyms and schools are closed, tournaments suspended, and the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo have been postponed a year. Members of the Elite Qualification, Youth and Junior High Performance teams are home rather than in Colorado Springs training at the state-of-art United States Olympic and Paralympic Training Center.
How are some of the leading U.S. amateur boxers living during this period without fights?
ELITE OLYMPIC QUALIFICATION TEAM
Joseph Hicks (Grand Rapids, Michigan), 26-year-old middleweight, USA Ranking #2
Gold medal performances: 2019 National Golden Gloves; 2017 & 2018 Eastern Elite Qualifier; 3-time Eastern Elite Qualifier (2017-2019)
Hicks was within one qualifier victory of officially becoming a member of the 2020 Team USA Olympic Boxing Team. He is taking advantage of the break, though, spending quality time with his wife and young daughter.
“I personally feel that this has been a blessing in disguise, because I have more time to improve on the things the USA coaches have been telling me to work on. I live in an apartment in Lansing (MI), but I’ve been staying with my mom in Grand Rapids so I can comfortably train. It’s weird in a way, but I miss getting punched at. I’ve been trying to adapt to the new normal, but I can’t wait to be back at the training center (in Colorado Springs).
“I love that I can see my daughter every day to give her all my attention, but she misses the gym as much as me. My wife and mother have been very supportive. I believe waiting another year will only make me better by the time the Olympics are here.”
Oshae Jones, (Toledo, Ohio), 22-year-old welterweight, USA Ranking #1
Gold Medal Performances: 2020 Olympic Team Trials, 3-time Elite National Championships (2016-2019), 2017 Eastern Elite Qualifier, 2016 Youth Open, 2014 National PAL. International: 2020 Strandja Tournament & 2019 Pan-American Games
Jones had been on a roll leading up to the since postponed Americas Qualifier to lock a roster spot on the 2020 Team USA Olympic Boxing Team. She has been training at her family’s gym in Toledo, as well as getting more involved in community services and functions.
“I have not adapted to life without boxing, because boxing will never leave my life. My family / coaches have a gym connected to our house we live in. Boxing is not a sport, it’s a lifestyle .
“My heart dropped when I first heard that the Olympics were postponed. Everything that I have been working toward for basically my whole life is on pause until next July. I do not know how I feel or how to express how I feel. The only thing I can do is try to stay motivated.”
YOUTH HIGH PERFORMANCE TEAM
Arjan Iseni (Staten Island, New York), 17-year-old light heavyweight, USA Ranking #1
Gold Medal Performances: 2019 Youth National Championships, Eastern Regional Open & Youth Open
Iseni lives in the Coronavirus epicenter, Staten Island, NY. He and his father built a small ring in their backyard (see picture below) because he couldn’t train in any gyms.
“It’s very hard to know that I won’t be able to represent Team USA this year in any international tournaments. This is my last year as a youth boxer, but I have been training very hard during quarantine, and I will be ready for whatever is next for me.
“It is hard knowing that I will not be fighting soon, but this gives me more time to perfect the little flaws in my game, and I’ll comeback stronger when this all ends. Hopefully, everything goes back to normal soon, so I can get back to fighting actively and hopefully make Team USA as an Elite boxer.”
Shera Mae Patricio (Waianae, Hawaii), 17-year-old flyweight, USA Ranking #1
Gold Medal Performances: 2019 Youth National Championships & Western Regional Open; 2018 Youth National Championships & Western Regionals Open; 2017 National Junior Olympics & National Golden Gloves
Patricio lives the furthest away from training camp and her teammates, but her family owns a boxing gym, and training/sparring isn’t as a problem for her because she has eight siblings.
“We are in quarantine and I have adapted to life without fights by continuing to train at our personal gym with my siblings. Training hasn’t been a problem for us because we have our own personal gym. We sanitize all the equipment and the gym before and after training. Since there are no fights coming soon, we have been sharpening up our skills and building more knowledge We’ve been gaining strength and keeping up our endurance. On weekends, my dad rides a bike while we run laps to get some sunlight, and sometimes we do sprint drills outside.
“Our family is a boxing family that started with my dad as he was a boxer. He started training me, only for defense, but it started to get serious in 2015 when I won my first tournament in Kansas. All of my other siblings are also boxers and they’re also multiple-time champions. My siblings and I have been getting a ton of family time staying home together. This quarantine has made us even closer. Our bond makes us stronger individually and as one. I’m far away from training in Colorado Springs, but my teammates are only a phone call away. I’m able to stay in touch and that’s very warming. Some of the coaches check on me to see how I’ve been doing. I looked forward to all the tournaments I planned to fight in and I’m disappointed they’ve been postponed, but I have more time to be even better prepared for my next fight.”
JUNIOR HIGH PERFORMANCE TEAM
Steven Navarro (Los Angeles, California) 16-year-old flyweight, USA Ranking #1
Gold Medal Performances: 2019 Junior National Championships & National PAL; 2018 Junior National Championships; 2017 Prep Open & Western Regional Open
Navarro was training in Colorado Springs to prepare for international competition in Bulgaria, but the trip was cancelled two days before Navarro and his teammates were scheduled to depart.
“As a member of the USA Boxing Junior Team, I look forward to every fight / tournament, because it could be my last. So it was very heartbreaking when I was notified that our fights in Bulgaria and future international fights were cancelled due to this pandemic. I continue working as hard as I do on a regular basis: waking up at 5 in the morning, running 5-6 miles in nearby hills, of course wearing my mask. I come home to take my online classes from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., which gives me a 2-hour nap before heading to my private gym. I am the only person who trains at my gym every day at 4:30 p.m. Once I get to the gym, I begin stretching for 3 rounds (3-minute rounds), shadow box for 5-7 rounds, then I hit five varieties of punching bags (3 rounds each). Afterwards, I work mitts (5-8 rounds) where I focus on different movements and situations that could possibly happen in a fight. I often hit the double-end bag and speed bag for 3 rounds. I finish my boxing training with 15 min. of jump rope.
“I train on a daily basis for 2 hours with my father/coach Refugio Navarro. This pandemic is a bit of a gamble due to not having access to sparring. I do tend to ‘move’ with my father once every week, but the experience is different. Once finished, I head to my grandparents’ house (only one block away from my home) to do my strength and conditioning. I do wear a mask and gloves when working out there. My grandfather is a bodybuilder and has his gym setup in his garage. I work-out with my grandfather for a good hour, constantly disinfecting all equipment, to wrap-up my day. I work with what I have, which is a blessing. Boxing isn’t a season sport, you must stay ready all year for anything, and that’s what I continue to do as I strive for greatness.”
Fernanda Chavez (Dallas, Texas), 14-year-old bantamweight, USA Ranking #2
Gold Medal Performances: 2019 Junior Open; 2018 Prep Open & Eastern Regional
Chavez is a first-year member of the Junior High Performance Team and her inaugural training camp in Colorado Springs was pushed back.
“Adapting to this new lifestyle hasn’t been the easiest. I’m thankful I have my family, as we’ve been going on daily runs and workouts at parks. My family understands the importance of my athleticism and staying fit, which is why we continue to motivate each other during this tough time. I’m not sure when our lives will return to normal, which is why I’m still prepared at all times.
“The things I’m looking forward to most at camp in Colorado Springs is meeting other junior females on the team, as well as learning the different styles they bring. I also look forward to creating bonds between my new teammates and coaches from across the nation.”
Arjan Iseni’s backyard ring in Staten Island
ABOUT USA BOXING: To promote and grow Olympic-style amateur boxing in the United States and to inspire the tireless pursuit of Olympic gold and enable athletes and coaches to achieve sustained competitive excellence. Additionally, USA Boxing endeavors to teach all participants the character, confidence and focus they need to become resilient and diverse champions, both in and out of the ring. USA Boxing is one team, one nation, going for gold!