Los Angeles Amateur Boxers take the Green Belt Challenge

By Raquel Vasquez
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Amateur boxers take the Green Belt Challenge at South El Monte High School
Photo Credit: Cecilia Sulaiman

Who is the WBC? To many boxers and fight fans it may be the holy grail. To some LA Canvas readers it may be a question mark. As you know, I’m a boxing fan. I love boxing, and have been watching boxing for decades. That does not make me an aficionado. I watch boxing like most people do. To enjoy it. Then there are the crazy fans. What shall we call them? I know…. Fanatics. They want to debate, argue, dissect, reinvent and proclimate over each boxer and bout. They are the “score card keeper” types, they’re ready to change rules and even create some new ones too. Then they repeat this process for each and every fight. I think it is more intense than any other sport for fans. Why? I think it’s because there’s no team. It’s one man against another man. Mano a mano as they say. There is nothing more real.

That brings us back to my initial question. Who is the WBC?

The WBC is the World Boxing Council, one of four organizations that sanction world championship boxing bouts. It was established in 1963 and now has 161 member countries. The coveted green world champion belt has an incredible design with the flag of all member countries. This belt, to actually see in person, is regal, huge, and it is heavy! The WBC headquarters is in Mexico City, Mexico. The three other sanctions are the IBF, WBO, and the WBA. These sanctions, are so important due to the disputes of each fight. The rules, the scoring, the drug testing..all must be held to answer.

Over 300 amateur boxers participated in the 5th Annual Green Belt Challenge
Photo Credit: Cecilia Sulaiman

The WBC is the first organization to introduce major changes in the boxing rules to safeguard the boxers. The other three sanctions have followed in suit. In such a brutal sport that is known to take place in Sin City, the WBC has managed to develop and maintain a family friendly side to boxing. The WBC is involved with charities for the future of retired boxers, and is the creator of WBC Cares -Big Champions Supporting Little Champions. The Green Belt Challenge is one of many values the WBC is about.

The Green Belt Challenge is an amateur boxing event created and presented by the WBC. This year was its 5th annual event. In order to get the true nature of the story I decided to volunteer my time at the Green Belt Challenge for as much as I was available. It is a free three day event of boxing for all ages up to 18 with real referees, official size boxing rings and score cards. Day one starts with all the sign ups and weigh ins. Some lucky person gets to organize all of these bouts. They are divided into red and blue corners, and numbered. Every kid that is registered to fight ( no registration fee) gets a WBC grab bag. They get an official WBC t shirt with their corner color, a WBC boxers bag, everlast bag, war tape, WBC sticker, gym towel, snack and a bottle of water. What a score! And what a lot of merchandise to lug in and set up. The delighted kids and parents were wall to wall, it was a beehive of baby boxers in that joint!

To see the effort given by these kids, their trainers and parents was impressive. The amount of female contenders was great to see as well. These kids mean business, they were all trained boxers. Some very young and some not so young, but all had training and official gear for boxing and protection.

Creating champion boxers starts at an early age
Photo Credit: Cecilia Sulaiman

Just like official boxing bouts there was an mc that asks if we’re ready to rumble followed by the ring of the bell. Medals are given out by professional champion boxers in attendance. Snacks and sticky sodas are abundant, and fun is the name of the game. I didn’t see one sore loser or poor sport in the entire event. The confidence is pretty solid in these kids, they were dying to get in that ring. They fight for three rounds. All the boxers are warming up in every nook and corner of the gymnasium. The energy was electric, and spirits were high.

The champion boxers gave medals to both boxers of each bout. Some of the champions in attendance were Joseph Diaz Jr, Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios, Mari “La Diva” Cornejo, Sulem Urbina, Danny Roman, Leo Santa Cruz, Mikey Garcia, Shane Mosely, to name a few. The event was being live streamed by Oscar De La Hoya’s Goldenboy Promotions and Under the Hand Wraps Boxing Entertainment Channel. This event had over 300 boxers participate, demanding two boxing rings. One boxing ring was not enough to contain all the bouts, even with the given three days. Each year this event grows bigger, with more demands having to be met. The beauty is that it is all for the love of kids and boxing.

If you are a die hard fight fan, the WBC is a household name. If this is your introduction to the WBC, it’s just the tip of the boxing glove. Be sure to follow them on facebook and social media to stay up on boxing events all year round. See you at next years Green Belt Challenge!

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