Vail Valley’s Mean Streets boxing club headed back to the state Golden Gloves tournament
Boxers learning life's lessons inside and outside the ring
EAGLE — In boxing, you take your swings. Sometimes you connect, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes your opponents connect, and sometimes they don’t. You try not to get hit, but sometimes you do. But you take your swings. It’s like life.
Eagle’s Mean Streets boxing club took five fighters to last year’s state Golden Gloves tournament and brought back three titles. One of the other two should probably have won his split decision. The other blew out his shoulder during his bout but kept fighting.
Mean Streets is taking seven fighters this year. Weigh-in is Sunday, and the state title bouts run through next week at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds Event Center.
Mike Pisciotta launched the Mean Streets boxing club three years ago. He has been teaching boxing and life lessons for three decades.
“It’s the ability to keep fighting when you’re down, to get up when you’re down,” Pisciotta said.
Good coach, great coach
Robert Castillo and Hector Chagoya have been with the program since Pisciotta launched it.
Castillo used to live by Eagle Valley High School when he was a student there. His friends came by to borrow his boxing gloves, and they’d smack one another around before classes.
“When Coach Pisciotta opened the gym, I knew it was for me,” Castillo said.
Boxing and Pisciotta taught him to stay calm and control his anger.
“In high school, I didn’t (my anger),” he said.
A little maturity and guidance changes lives, he said, especially his.
“A good coach can change your game. A great coach can change you life,” he said. “Coach did that for me. I owe a lot to Mike.”
Edgar Morales is returning to this year’s Golden Gloves tournament after losing a split decision last year in his first-ever bout that he says he should have won — a disappointment but not a deterrent.
“You can’t sulk. I did my best, and you have to move on,” he said.
Persistence, Morales and Castillo said, is one of the lessons they bring from the ring.
“When you get hit, the best thing to do is get over it and move. If you stand and sulk, you’ll get hit again.
If you’re on the ropes, step around
David Muruato is 9 years old now, a third-grader at Eagle Valley Elementary School. He won gold and silver medals last year as an 8-year old.
“You learn to move and dodge. You fight different opponents in different ways,” Muruato said.
His dad tells him to be aggressive and go hard. A bout is three one-minute rounds.
Jaime Chavira and Castillo were sparring in Tuesday’s final full-speed training session before the Golden Gloves tournament. Both hope to defend the Golden Gloves titles they won last year.
Jaime, 13, and an eighth-grader at Gypsum Creek Middle School, was working on moving away from trouble, making him a tougher target to hit. There’s a life lesson in that, he said.
“You learn what’s right,” Chavira said of boxing’s lessons. “When other people are trying to get you in trouble, you stay away from them.”
And there’s this: “It gets all your stress out.”
Leonardo Chavira is 8 years old, a third-grader. He’s new to the fight game. The Golden Gloves tournament is his first fight. He’s excited and nervous, as one would be who’s trying something completely new.
“I feel a little nervous. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out,” he said.
Francisco Gomez blew out his shoulder in last year’s tournament and still almost won.
“You just keep punching, no matter what,” Gomez said.
He says that if your opponent has you on the ropes, step around him. Life’s obstacles are like that, too, he said.
Pisciotta’s boxing roots run deep. He grew up in Pueblo, and his dad took him to a couple of gyms when he was around 13. The family migrated to Denver and he trained with Ron Lyle, one of Muhammad Ali’s opponents. He won a Nebraska state title and turned pro for 10 fights. He was knocked out in his 10th and final professional fight and decided he prefers coaching.