Eagle boxer David Muruato wins National Silver Gloves title
Eagle Valley Middle School student trains at Mean Street Boxing Club in Eagle
David Muruato: national champion. It has a nice ring to it.
The last time the 12-year-old Eagle Valley Middle School boxer stepped into the ring — Feb. 11 in Independence, Missouri, for the 11-12-year-old, 114-pound National Silver Gloves championship bout — there was nothing capable of thwarting his ambition.
“I got a bloody nose in the first round,” Muruato said after a three-round victory over Region 2 representative Sloan Olbeter. “But I didn’t let that stop me, you know, from getting that belt.”
Mike Pisciotta, who has coached Muruato at Mean Street Boxing Club in Eagle for the last four years, said Olbeter “threw some good, hard punches.”
“But David was really countering with beautiful right hooks and straight punches from a distance,” he continued. “And then sliding — when they got inside, David let his hands go and won the battles on the inside.”
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Similar to Thursday’s semifinal win over the defending national champion, Dayton Eagle Bull, the Eagle boxer opened the title bout in a southpaw stance.
“We knew he hadn’t fought a southpaw yet,” Muruato explained of his strategy. “So we went out in the first round like we’d planned it out and tried to do our best in that position. It was a good fight, it was a tough fight — my opponent was really good.”
Saved by the bell
Born and raised in Pueblo, Pisciotta won a Nebraska state title as an amateur before his own 10-fight pro career. In 1990, while working as a Nebraska correctional officer, he opened a gym with the goal of reaching at-risk youth. After stints in eastern and western Nebraska and South Dakota, he eventually moved to Eagle in 2014 and opened Mean Street Boxing Club in 2016.
“When I went in front of the Town Council and brought my idea of using the space for youth, they were very open for that,” he said. “Also, to engage a lot of the Hispanic youth because a lot of my kids are Hispanic and boxing is very popular in the Hispanic culture.”
For someone well-versed in training experienced amateurs and pros, the prospect of teaching beginners again renewed Pisciotta’s passion. “I was starting from scratch, kind of like I did in 1990, with brand new kids that had never boxed before,” he said.
“Teaching them basic boxing fundamentals and getting them all the way to compete in a national tournament. David is the first one.”
The youngster started at 8 — the youngest age for USA boxing competitions — with no experience. He progressed quickly, winning three straight Golden Glove titles at 8, 9 and 10-years-old. Pisciotta said Saturday’s national championship is the biggest accomplishment for any athlete in his gym, which had 53 athletes in its competitive program last year.
“He’s got a natural propensity for boxing,” Pisciotta said. “He’s a good athlete with good rhythm and coordination. He also really works hard. He’s got a great work ethic and that’s one of the reasons he’s progressed so quickly.”
Muruato’s parents have supported his progression, too, even erecting a small gym in the family’s garage. Along with his teachers, they’ve watched boxing positively focus their son’s abundant energy.
“I’m really proud of him,” Muruato’s mom said via translation. “It’s helped him overall. He had a lot of energy as a little kid and this is a sport that can help calm him down.”
“We said, if you want to participate in the boxing, you have to do what the teachers tell you and get good grades,” Pisciotta added.
“I think it helps me to relieve a lot of stress,” Muruato said. “It’s helped me make a lot of new friends at all the tournaments and stuff and at the gym also.”
Pisciotta said of Muruato’s presence and progression have benefited the entire gym.
“This is a good young man who has worked really hard. He’s kind of a leader at his school, absolutely a leader in the gym,” the coach said. Another Mean Street athlete, Robert Castillo, 26, was one of the first four boxers that showed up when the Mean Street opened in 2016. He and Muruato won their first state Golden Gloves titles in the same year. Pisciotta said Castillo has played an influential role in Muruato’s development.
“Robert has been one of the biggest sparring partners for David getting him ready for these nationals,” he said.
Even though Pisciotta acknowledges the physical nature of boxing, he believes injuries can be mitigated by proper equipment, conditioning and coaching.
“The key is to be very careful with how you match the boxers, putting the kids in with the right level of experience,” he explained.
“When you control the sparring and bring things along, you start getting boxers that are better and better and then they can go at a higher level. They aren’t hurt because they are learning how to block punches, slip punches, throw punches and how to absorb the punch and take the steam off of it.”
Still, he said he usually doesn’t like to train athletes that are too young.
“Most don’t take it seriously,” he said. “They’re not mature enough. Boxing is a lot different than other sports. You’ve got nobody but you.” Murauto, however, is an exception — he’s able to handle the fear of the unknown and exposure to the spotlight.
“Everyone can see that you’re exposed for who you are and what you can do,” Pisciotta said of the atmosphere inside the ring. “David’s got tenacity and drive. I think I knew from his very first fight that he has what it takes to succeed as a boxer.”
That first fight was a Junior Olympic tournament in Longmont four years ago. Moments before weigh-in, Muruato found out his opponent had significantly more experience than previously thought.
“He could have complained or gotten nervous about it, but he didn’t say anything. He went in and chased this guy all over the ring,” Pisciotta recalled.
David lost the decision, but his opponent appeared to be the one being hunted. “David was just really tenacious,” the coach continued. “That showed me right there that this kid has a lot of heart, drive and courage — he wasn’t intimidated — and that he could go a long way.”
Only the beginning
Muruato said he was nervous going into the championship fight. “But you know, I fought through it,” he said. “I was also really excited to see what it was like and get the experience.” His eyes are set on winning the state Golden Gloves tournament in March (Golden Gloves are the highest amateur boxing tournaments, but its national event, unlike the state event, is only open to athletes 16 and older) and the National Junior Olympics in Lubbock, Texas, in June.
“He went from starting at 8 years old with zero experience to being a national champion at 12, so he really has come a long way,” Pisciotta said, adding that Muruato is the first national champion he’s coached in 32 years.
“And it’s just the beginning for this young man. He has so much potential.”