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Written by Mike Terry   
Thursday, 21 February 2013 06:45

Teenager Eric Murguia Started Boxing Less Than Two Years Ago But Already Has A National Title Under His Belt

M. TERRY/SFVS

Hot Property - Boxer Eric Murguia, 15, proudly displays the amateur medals and national title belt he has already won. In the photo on the right, Murguia is surrounded by fellow members of the San Fernando Boxing Club.


He stands a sturdy 5-feet-10 and packs 165 pounds of muscle. He's blessed with the face of a model or actor. And he doesn't turn 16 until this October.

You see those striking features on a physique that can make women grow weak and you think to yourself: why would Eric Murguia want to box? The simple answer is he loves it.

And he appears to be good at it. Murguia, who lives in Mission Hills and attends the Cesar Chavez Learning Academy as a ninth grader, began training less than two years ago. He's had a total of eight fights, but has a couple knockouts and hasn't lost yet.

M. TERRY/SFVS

And he's already scored two significant achievements. On Feb. 2 in Independence, MO, Murguia won a Silver Boxers national championship by defeating Jacob Waltemate of Neillsville, WI, in the 165-pound division. And on Jan.11 in Reno, NV, he defeated Akeem Mayle of Zanesville, Ohio, at the same weight to earn a spot on the USA World Junior Team.

The latter victory has secured Murguia a trip to Kiev, Ukraine this summer with the USA team to compete in the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) Junior World Championships, featuring young boxers, ages 15-16, in 13 weight classes. The tournament begins Aug. 17.

"I've had to make sacrifices with my friends and family, which was hard for me to take. But I really love the sport and I would do anything for it. I really want this," Murguia said.

The left-handed Murguia has made some strong impressions on people despite being so early into a boxing career.

His trainer Tony Romero – who himself boxed both amateur and professional in Mexico for nearly 20 years – said Murguia has "very good hand speed" for his size and is rapidly absorbing the nuances of head and foot movement needed for success in the sport. He described the young boxer as having a good right jab and right hook, and a powerful straight left and left uppercut.

Romero, who works a fulltime job in addition to being a volunteer boxing coach, said he has to remember that Murguia is still young, not only chronologically, but also in terms of boxing experience.

"The young man came into the gym and I started working with him maybe a year and a half ago. I pushed him hard because he is a big boy," Romero said. "Then he told me 'I'm only 13,' and I couldn't believe it. I thought he was 17."

Romero saw enough raw potential that he felt comfortable in entering Murguia in the Silver Gloves and USA Boxing competitions.

"I thought he had a good possibility of winning," Romero said. "He was beating guys with over 60 fights of experience. He has a lot of speed and power. And he can move pretty good to duck punches. He's not easy to hit."

Murguia belongs to the San Fernando Boxing Club, which currently has 40 members – boys, girls, men and women of all ages and shapes. They train in the 90 Min Fit Club in San Fernando, which opened a year ago, and has sectioned off part of its club with a boxing ring and hanging heavy bags.

Motivational slogans like "The more you sweat in training the less you bleed in combat," and "Victory is reserved for those willing to pay the price" are painted on the walls.

Ricky Estrada, club owner and a fitness trainer, is enthused by what he's seen of Murguia's workouts.

"I'm super excited," said Estrada, when asked about Murguia's prospects. "Not only does he have a hard work ethic, he is also a really good kid. I try to push him to work hard here and in school, to apply the same work ethic in both. He has a lot of potential for his age.

"He has size and he competes… I call him 'Big Mike' because he hits like Tyson. I watched him spar against a 23- year old guy and he knocked him down two times. When he hits, he hurts people. But he's a great kid."

Murguia said he's always been interested in boxing and martial arts fighting, but was unable to join a gym as a smaller kid. A couple of years ago, he and an uncle were driving around downtown San Fernando and saw the building that previously housed the fight club. "I asked my dad to take me because I wanted to box," he said.

His father Robert, a construction worker, didn't box himself and none of his other five children show a similar interest. But if Murguia wanted to try it, Robert said okay.

"Whatever he wanted to do, I was with him," the father said. He lives with Robert, mom Maria Escalante, a homemaker, and younger sister Michelle. He said his mom encourages his boxing interest, but hasn't yet attended one of his bouts.

"At home she supports me – she says things like 'good luck, I hope you do well' – but she doesn't like seeing me fight because she thinks it's dangerous," he said Murguia is learning that a boxer's life can be a lonely as well as disciplined existence.

He doesn't hang out much with friends. Most mornings he's up at 5 a.m. to get from his home to school. He comes back home in the afternoon to eat, do boxing training sessions from 6-9 p.m., finish homework and get some sleep. Along with his boxing regiment he runs four days a week and also goes hiking with his dad. Any additional free moments are spent cultivating his interest in astronomy.

"I like astronomy, getting in to space and finding life," Murguia said "In my spare time I look at YouTube videos about other planets, and the possibility of other life.

"I try to stay humble. I won't fight in the streets because that's not what a boxer's supposed to do. My friends at school know I box. The principal supported me when I went to [Missouri] so they know. It kind of interferes with my boxing, the schoolwork I was missing. I kind of struggle; I need to learn how to manage my time. I think I'll be okay this school year; we're working it out."

He thinks about turning pro one day, but not at the expense of getting an education. "If it doesn't work out I've got school; and that's a good thing, you've got to have a backup plan. School comes first," Murguia said.

The opportunity to face international competition will provide another springboard and measuring stick for Murguia. He'll probably face someone more experienced. He may face someone as strong.

But Romero believes the young fighter has gifts that could earn him a living as a boxer if that is what Murguia ultimately pursues.

"He has as good a chance as anyone I've seen," Romero said. "He is very dedicated, a hardworking kid who is disciplined. He knows what he wants. If he keeps going, he has as good a chance as anyone."

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Last Updated on Thursday, 21 February 2013 06:53