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Latino boxers struggle to raise funds for Olympic dream

Latino boxers struggle to raise funds for Olympic dream

Posted by Juan Gavasa on January 14, 2015

A pair of Latino boxers from Southern California have their sights set on the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro and are physically up the task, but a lack of funding is an obstacle ahead of next week's USA Boxing National Championships in Spokane, Washington, a springboard for the U.S. Olympic team trials.

"I haven't been poor, but there's a lot of stuff that keeps me from doing things, just because of money," Rudy Garcia, an amateur boxer in the bantamweight (123-pound) category, told Efe.

An 18-year-old from the south side of Los Angeles, Garcia has a record of 81-16 and has received numerous offers to turn professional, but he has turned them down and opted for a longer path to achieving his dream.

"If he can make it to the Olympic Games and win, the contract offers will be better. He's young so he can make this effort, and I support him," Rodolfo Garcia, Rudy's father, said.

Despite being the only Los Angeles-based bantamweight boxer at the National Championships, Garcia and his team had to launch a fund-raising campaign to round up an extra $3,000 to cover their expenses.

"We need help for the equipment, food, training, warm-up suits and the trips. That's the problem and why a lot can't make it. They have the ability but they don't have the support," Hector Saldivar, Garcia's trainer, said.

Saldivar, who arrived in the United States from the southeastern Mexican state of Yucatan to forge his boxing career, is all too familiar with the challenges Hispanic fighters face.

"When I arrived, I was a fighter and I had to sell tamales and corn on the cob. I trained and I sold," he said, adding that the situation has not changed much since then.

Garcia's team is not the only one that that has had to struggle to obtain financial backing. In San Bernardino County, the trainers of amateur bantamweight boxer Anthony Chavez Cifuentes also have had to drum up support from family and friends to finance the trip to Spokane.

"We've had sponsors, but for this (event) we had to raise money from the people closest to us," Tony Cifuentes, Anthony's father and trainer, said.

"We need help from everyone, and more from USA Boxing. They should support us more because they charge licensing fees for everything. So there's money," Saldivar said.

Garcia and Cifuentes were born and raised in areas where gang activity is rife and turned to boxing to escape the turf wars and give themselves a dream to pursue.

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