Mean Street Boxing in Eagle offers instruction for fighting and living
EAGLE — Mike Pisciotta believes life’s most important lessons can be learned in a boxing ring and through his new program in Eagle, he hopes local youth will sign up for an education.
“Boxing is a microcosm of life. When life knocks you down, you get back up. When life hits you hard, you fight back harder,” said Pisciotta. “In boxing there is no one to block for you, no one to pass the ball to. You face your opponent alone in the ring. Boxing teaches self-sufficiency, self-discipline and a strong work ethic.”
That, in a nutshell is what Mean Streets Boxing is all about.
Pisciotta is the new court administrator for the Fifth Judicial District and when he packed up his household to move to Eagle County, he also transported about $28,000 worth of boxing gym equipment— the tools of the trade for his Mean Streets program. His set up includes a boxing ring, punching bags and more. He recently convinced the Eagle Town Board to rent him space at the old Eagle Town Hall so he could reach out to local youth, and adults for that matter, to offer boxing instruction.
“People come from all walks of life to box. That is what is great about the sport,” said Pisciotta.
Pisciotta found his love for boxing at a young age. A native of Pueblo, he recalls watching Sugar Ray Leonard complete during the 1976 Olympics.
“Then the ‘Rocky’ movies came out later that year and I was hooked,” he said.
Pisciotta boxed as both an amateur and briefly as a professional and then began a career in law enforcement. While he was working for the Nebraska Department of Corrections, he came up with the idea of offering a boxing program as an outlet for at-risk youth. From his personal experiences, Pisciotta knew boxing would be a great way to channel aggression and work toward a long-term goal.
Pisciotta said you have to take responsibility for your own training as a boxer, and that’s a skill that transfers over to other aspects of a fighter’s life. At the same time, a boxing gym is a place full of camaraderie.
“Not every kid who comes through the door will ever fight a match,” said Pisciotta. “But I will teach him some boxing fundamentals and he is going to learn respect.”
Mean Streets Boxing has only been set up for a couple of weeks and Pisciotta hasn’t really begun his outreach efforts. But there is already a corps of seven fighters who are thrilled to have the opportunity to learn how to box.
Xavier Rios Varela, 20, is the Eagle program’s first ambassador.
“I was going to Golden Oven with my girlfriend to get a pizza and I had to see what was going on,” said Varela. Pisciotta was still moving equipment into the building when Varela said he wanted to sign up.
“I have been a boxing fan since I was little,” said Varela. “I had to take this opportunity.”
Varela noted he has never had the chance to study boxing before and he was so excited about the new program he reached out to a bunch of his friends.
Hector Valdez, 21, is working as an electrician apprentice. When he attended Basalt High School, he was a wrestler and during his junior year, he placed fifth at state. He is excited to have the chance to compete in the ring.
“Boxing is not for everyone,” he said “But if you are doing something like this you need to train as hard as you can and then see how good you are. This is a great experience for me.”
“Xavier told me be about it and I like to train,” said David Sanchez, 22.
“I have leaned how to make a great fist,” added Sanchez, flashing a grin.
Because there hasn’t been any formal boxing program locally for a number of years, Pisciotta said it would be awhile before his protegees are ready for a match. But he is committed to getting his fighters to that point.
“By the time they are ready for a match, they are going to be trained,” he said.
Passion for teaching
Pisciotta knows some boxing gyms will take a kid fresh off the street and put him in a ring with an experienced fighter. After getting pummeled, the gym operator will know the new kid is serious about learning if he comes back. But that’s not the way Pisciotta runs his program.
“Why would you take a kid and hurt him just to see if he comes back?” Pisciotta said. “Most everyone who comes into a gym is scared to begin with. They just want to see if they are as tough as they believe they are.”
Pisciotta’s teaching philosophy is based on nurturing a fighter and teaching him or her the skills needed to succeed in the ring.
While he often refers to his students as “he,” Pisciotta noted that more and more female are finding their way to the sport. He’s open to teaching anyone who wants to learn.
“I really have a passion for coaching and teaching and I have a knack for showing people technique,” said Pisciotta. One of his boxing heroes is a fellow named Angelo Dundee, who worked as a corner man for Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard.
“I really admired him and liked his style,” said Pisciotta.
For now, Mean Streets Boxing is open from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Anyone interested in the program is welcome to drop by. Because of his work schedule, Pisciotta can’t open the gym earlier, but he would love to attract other instructors so he could expand the hours.
In the meantime, he hopes that the regular weekday sessions attract more and more aspiring boxers. When students come to his program, Pisciotta can’t promise he will make them fighters. But he can promise something else.
“When they leave, they are going to be a better person than when they came in. That’s what’s important to me,” he said.
To learn more about Mean Streets Boxing, contact Pisciotta at 605-639-9678.