Boxers/Muaythai fighters help raise money for Rare Cancer Aware

(top right) At Saturday’s Rare Cancer Aware fundraiser, Maania Hopper, the co-founder of the organization and her dear friend Artem Sharoshkin pose for a photo before the charity show featuring five USA Amateur Boxing bouts and eight IFK Muaythai fights. (left) We have a treasured photo of Maania with her husband Lorenzo Von Matterhorn on vacation at Big Bear Lake in California.

Artem Sharoshkin, CEO of The Boxing Club, La Jolla, Calif.: “The inspiration for the “It’s Worth Fighting For” organization wanting to partner with the “Rare Cancer Aware” Foundation began when The Boxing Club hosted Maania Hopper’s 30th Birthday Charity Event. At that time, Maania and her loved ones gathered to celebrate and receive donations to put together care packages for patients in treatment at the UCSD Moore’s Cancer Center. As a current cancer patient herself, the Boxing Club was so inspired by this woman’s selflessness, we were determined to throw a special fight night event of our own in her honor.

“At present, there are so many different cancer foundations but we love what Rare Cancer Aware stands for since they focus on the patients that are fighting a special battle. Their goal is to help those diagnosed with rare forms of cancer by helping to minimize the obstacles people with rare cancers face with respect to treatment options, cancer research, and organizational support. They are trying to create a future that holds all cancer patients with equal access to care, resources and developing treatments in a united fight against cancer.”

(top, left) Artem Sharoshkin from The Boxing Club of La Jolla, welcomes the capacity crowd to the Saturday, June 24, 2017, Charity Event. The classy show had all the regalia you’d expect, from the lovely singer singing the National Anthem to the presence of the local Marine Corps Color Guard.

On hand to watch the athletes compete, plus meet and greet the contributors to the “Rare Cancer Aware” Foundation were Maania Hopper and her husband.


The USA Amateur Boxers competition:

In Bout #1, it was 14-year-old Emmanuel Madera (136.8 lbs., with a record of 1-0) venturing all the way from The Underground Lab in Sacramento, Calif., 7.5 hours by auto, to earn the victory over 15-year-old Dylan Thomas Taylor (130.8 lbs.) from the host gym, the Boxing Club of La Jolla. From the outset, Madera, the brawler, smothered his opponent and whenever Taylor managed to land a punch or two, Madera cleverly tied him up to make certain there was no chance of a comeback.

(photo, bottom right) The combatants in Bout #1, the victorious Emmanuel Madera (black trunks) and Dylan Thomas Taylor (blue trunks) pose for one last photo with their coaches at the close of their hard fought contest.

In Bout #2, they featured a 32-year-old web developer, Adam Monzon (134.4 lbs.) from The Boxing Club of La Jolla in his debut getting the best of 25-year-old Vincent Westgate (131 lbs.) from the same gym.

At first, it appeared the much taller Vincent Westgate (red headgear) would be able to use his snapping jab and overhand rights to control the contest but Adam Monzon proved too elusive, as he ducked under Westgate’s wide looping punches and spent the entire three rounds outworking him on the inside.

(bottom, left) At the conclusion of their contest, we see referee Andrew Moreno (c) raising the arm of the victorious Adam Monzon (l). Photos: Jim Wyatt

In Bout #3, it was 33-year-old Kyle Murray (148.2 lbs., red gloves) taking on the younger, more experienced 18-year-old William Hunter (3-0, 154.2 lbs.) from the Encinitas Boxing & Fitness Center.

(bottom) For survival sake, Kyle Murray (white head gear) began to rely on the strategy of hit and hold against the dynamo William Hunter. (below, left) Referee Hondo Fontane issues Murray a standing 8-count.

(bottom) Kyle Murray gives credit where credit is due. On this day, William Hunter (holding the trophy) proved to be unbeatable.

In Bout #4 it was 27-year-old Aerance Velasquez (3-0, 167.8 lbs.) from City Boxing in San Diego’s downtown taking on 21-year-old Roman Lysenko (172.4 lbs., a 5 win-1 loss Muay Thai fighter) from The Boxing Club in La Jolla who was making his boxing debut.

At first, there was a lot of give and take between Aerance Velasquez from City Boxing (red gloves) and Roman Lysenko (blue gloves) from The Boxing Club.

Before long the level playing field began to tilt in Aerance Velasquez’s favor. In the end, we see referee Hondo Fontane raising the arm of the undefeated Velasquez.

Before leaving ringside, Aerance Velasquez (left) from City Boxing posed for one last photo with his proud coach Vernon Lee.

In the final and perhaps most exciting Boxing match, Bout #5, they featured two young ladies, both debutants, a 30-year-old mom with one son, Vicki Mestler (135 lbs. with 3 years of shared training between the Art of Eight Training Center, Kearny Mesa and Steel MMA in the Tierrasanta neighborhood of San Diego), going up against 28-year-old Stephanie Potter (129.8 lbs. with 4.5 years of training at The Boxing Club in La Jolla.

Her recipe for victory: Vicki Mestler (red headgear) kept landing these stiff jabs plus solid overhand rights as if she had been boxing for many years. To her credit, Stephanie Potter (white headgear) never backed down and finished strong right up until the final bell.

At the conclusion of their contest, we see Vicki Mestler (left) having her arm raised in victory by referee Hondo Fontane, the local USA Amateur Boxing LBC 44 president.

Coincidence? The week following her victory over Stephanie Potter, this photo appeared on the internet. Rumor has it Vicki Mestler and her son have now become celebrity spokespersons for the popular resort.


The IKF Muay Thai portion of Saturday’s Show

Artur Nugumanoy (1-0, 183.8 lbs., 6’2″ tall), trained by Kru Caine Gayle at The Boxing Club, La Jolla, Calif. wins a unanimous decision victory over 24-year-old Juan Tapia (0-1, 183.6 lbs., 6 foot tall), trained by Zac Shepard at the brand new Premier Fight and Fitness gym in Spring Valley, Calif. Scorecards: Judge Luis Cobian 30-27; Judge Jim Vanover 30-27; Judge Vichai Supkitpol 29-28 all for Nugumanoy.

In boutt #1, it was Artur Nugumanoy (r) from The Boxing Club, earning a unanimous decision victory over Juan Tapia (l) from the Premier Fight & Fitness Gym in Spring Valley.

Denis Pradhan (2-0, 154 lbs., 6’ tall), trained by Jessie Magusen at The Boxing Club, La Jolla, Calif., wins a unanimous decision over 31-year-old David Molina (0-1, PKB: 6, 156 lbs., 5’10” tall) who is trained by Abel Jimenez of San Diego, Calif. 

From the outset, Denis Pradham (red headgear) was relentless and scored repeatedly with his high knees to David Molina’s midsection and chest.

David Molina (left) and Denis Pradhan (right) await the judge’s scores with veteran referee George Valdez.

At the conclusion of his hard fought bout with David Molina, we see Denis Pradhan, trophy in hand, posing for photos with referee George Valdez and the lovely ring card girls.

Everybody and their brother wanted a photo with Denis Pradhan. (l to r) Official George Valdez, USA Boxing President Hondo Fontane, Pradhan and Pradhan’s proud coach Kru Caine Gayle.

In Bout #3, it was 22-year-old 
Edwin Santiago Rivon (1-0, 171 lbs., 5’8″ tall) trained by Jason Childers of Pomona, Calif., ending up with the Unanimous Decision victory over 23-year-old Pearse Early from Carlsbad, Calif., 0-1, 170.2 lbs., 5’8″ tall, trained by Jessie Magusen at The Boxing Club, La Jolla, Calif. The scorecards read: Judge Luis Cobian 29-28; Judge Jim Vanover 29-28; and Judge George Valdez 29-28 all for Rivon.

In round one, Pearse Early was in cruise control. Then came this unfortunate stoppage after he hit his opponent, Edwin Santiago Rivon, below the belt. Photo on the right shows Early waiting in a neutral corner for his opponent to recover. Early continued his dominance in Round two but let up in round three.

From the head down and dejected look, you could have sworn Edwin Santiago Rivon (l) was not counting on a victory over the tough Pearse Early (r). 

When it was announced that Edwin Santiago Rivon had won, there were more than a few surprised looks.

Ismail Zizi  from the UFC gym in Mission Valley, San Diego, Calif., 3-1, 147 lbs., 5’8″ tall and trained by Jhanex Alviz got the win by a unanimous decision over 30-year-old Joseph Silva from Los Angeles, Calif., 1-2, 144 lbs., 5’8″ tall who is trained by Jared Eigou. The scorecards read: Judge Luis Cobian 30-26, Judge Jim Vanover 29-27, and Judge George Valdez 30-26 all for Zizi. What was so fascinating about this contest? It was the way Zizi walked right through whatever offense came his way as if he were indestructible.

At the conclusion of their bout, we see veteran referee Vichai Supkitpol raising the arm of the victorious Ismail Zizi from the UFC gym in Mission Valley.

After his stunning victory, the victorious Ismail Zizi (c), trophy in hand, poses for photos with his proud coaches and the lovely ring card girls.

In Bout #5, it was 28-year-old 
Michelle Chan 1-1-1, 122 lbs., 5’3″ tall and trained by Jessie Magusen at the Boxing Club, LaJolla, Calif. securing the victory over 24-year-old Carolina Reyes Moreno from Lakeside, Calif., 0-1, 120.8 lbs., 5’4″ tall who is trained by Zac Shepard at the brand new Premier Fight and Fitness gym in Spring Valley, Calif. 

Bout 5 scorecards read Judge Luis Cobian 29-28, Judge Jim Vanover 29-28 and Judge Vichai Supkitpol 29-28 all for Michelle Chan (r) who is shown having her arm raised by veteran referee George Valdez.

In Bout #6, it was 20-year-old 
Brandon Kurosawa of San Diego, Calif., 1-0-1, 146.8 lbs., 5’9″ tall and trained by Jessie Magusen at The Boxing Club, La Jolla, Calif. getting the knockout victory over 28-year-old Yuta Wakao (5’2″ tall, 0-1, 142.2 lbs.) who is trained by Abel Jimenez of San Diego, Calif. The end came at the 0:37-second mark of round #2.

One of the most memorable moments in this bout was when Brandon Kurosawa walloped Yuta Wakao in the head and to everyone’s surprise Wakao’s headgear when flying across the ring. Fortunately for Mr. Wakao, his head was not in that headgear.

At the conclusion of their exciting bout, the courageous Yuta Wakao (blue trunks) vowed he will be back for a rematch.

Prior to the stoppage: All three judges, Judge Luis Cobian, Judge Jim Vanover and Judge Vichai Supkitpol had Kurosawa ahead 10-8. As a result of the stoppage, Wakao was issued a 30-days no training and 30 days No-competition Medical Suspension until July 25, 2017. 

In what had to be the “Bout of the Day”, they had 26-year-old 
Mark Mooney Gracia from Fontana, Calif., record 4-3, 130 lbs., 5’9″ tall and trained by Robert Farabaugh winning a split decision victory over 25-year-old Kevin Kyburz from Covina, Calif., record 3-5-1, 130.8 lbs., 5’6″ tall, who is trained by Jason Childress. 

Bout #7 featuring the intense Mark Gracia (above) from Fontana, Calif. with his high knee kicks pitted against the extremely competitive Kevin Kyburz from Covina, Calif. From the opening bell, both fighters banged away with each of their eight limbs. Photos: Jim Wyatt

After Kevin Kyburz (l) came on in both rounds two and three the bout became somewhat of a toss-up. The facial expressions on Gracia’s face ran the gamut from complete dread to excruciating angst and finally to utter euphoria. The scorecards from this split decision: Judge Luis Cobian 29-28 – Kyburz; Judge: Jim Vanover 29-28 – Gracia and Judge George Valdez 29-28 – Gracia.

5 Round Promotional Title Fight
In the final bout of the show, it was 25-year-old showman 
Felipe Aparicio (6-1-1, 120.6 lbs., 5’4″ tall) with Erik Alignay and Zac Savage from Steel MMA in his corner, going up against 29-year-old Jason Belangoy (3-2, 121.8 lbs., 5’5″ tall) who is trained by Jhanex Alviz at the UFC Gym in San Diego’s Mission Valley. 

Felipe Aparicio looks down at the ring before hopping over the ropes. 

In the above photos, we have Jason Belangoy (l) in his corner going over his game plan while his opponent Felipe Aparicio (top photo) continued his ritual walk around the ring. Depending on a fighter’s intent it’s either a ram muay (which serves to honor the fighter’s supporters and his God) or wai kru which refers to the homage that fighter pays to his trainer. Usually, you’ll see both fighters walking around the ring with one arm on the top of the rope to seal out the bad spirits and then they’ll pause at each corner to say a short prayer. They then kneel in the center of the ring to face the direction of their birth and go through a set of specific movements which to a layman appear to be stretching exercises. Unlike Belangoy, Aparicio wore several good luck charms to the ring which included these colorful ribbon-like armbands (kruang rang). 

This was one of the most dramatic sequences in their contest when both men tumbled like ragdolls to the not so soft canvas. Throughout their fight, both men tried to establish the upper hand, both physically and mentally.

After their exhilarating fight came to an end, you couldn’t really tell from the look on their faces which of the fighters had won. Even after being the busier fighter and landing more kicks and punches, Felipe Aparicio remained solemn.

After the scores were finally read and the decision announced, you could see the genuine relief in Felipe Aparicio’s face. The final tally: Judge Luis Cobian 50-45; Judge Jim Vanover: 50-45; Judge George Valdez 50-45 all for the masterful Mr. Aparicio who would not be denied.

Job well-done! After the announcement of his victory, veteran referee Vichai Supkitpol raised the arm of the victorious Felipe Aparicio from Steel MMA.

As a follow-up, this website would like to praise the altruistic efforts of the La Jolla Boxing Club under the leadership of its CEO, Russian-born Artem Sharoshkin who like Maania Hopper is a fighter who just so happens to be a former XAMTC and IAMTF Welterweight Champion. Sharoshkin’s heavy leg kicks and powerful knockout-inducing head kicks earned him the nickname “The Russian Experiment.” Both individuals are great motivators for us all. 

In these days, the critiquing of a charity can be tricky business, unless a donor knows some organizational facts and then uses firm guidelines. A legitimate charity should be an open book 1) offering you, the donor, steps to being an informed giver so you can be proactive in your giving, 2) it should be a charity that’s both accountable and transparent, never secretive, 3) it should be a charity that can show you results, their impact and 4) it should offer you different ways of giving, so you can follow your investment. When Artem Sharoshkin told this reporter: “100% of the proceeds from this show are going to this charity” – he meant it. That makes the Boxing Club’s donation even more substantial when you consider all of the expenses they incurred – the two sanctioning fees, the chair and table rentals, the 13 trophies and 13 medals, the cost to have the emergency crew on standby, etc., etc. The Boxing Club cover almost all of the expenses so that the proceeds from the gate and silent auction could go untouched.

When Artem Sharoshkin told this reporter: “100% of the proceeds from this show are going to this charity” – he meant it. That makes the Boxing Club’s donation, his donation, even more substantial when you consider all of the expenses incurred – the two sanctioning fees, the chair and table rentals, the 13 trophies and 13 medals, the cost of having the paramedics/ambulance standing by, etc., etc. The Boxing Club covered almost all of the expenses so that the proceeds from the gate and silent auction could go untouched.

Best of buddies Artem Sharoshkin and Kru Caine Gayle can handle any problem.

Established in 1999, The Boxing Club on Genesee Ave. in University Town Center has now been at the same location going on 18 years. In 2014, the gym, under new ownership, renovated the facility, optimized the fitness programs and brought customer service into focus. Their welcoming atmosphere and meticulous regard for cleanliness appear unmatched. From their website comes the mantra: “At The Boxing Club, our commitment is reflected in everything we do – from keeping class sizes comfortable for personal attention to learning more about our clients so we can help them achieve their goals faster and more effectively.”

As far as recognizable names and faces they have coaches/ex-fighters like Shannon Gugerty, Kru Caine Gayle, Glenn Salud, Jesse Magusen, Ron Casper plus a list of wonderful instructors like Beany Galletta Chalfant, Jessica Lopez, Elizabeth Morgan, Katie Murai, Paige Torres, Paulette Madden, Daniel Favela, Brian Blake, Bret Martineau, Tony Fausto and Raul Reyes which keeps growing like one big happy family. 

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