Chris Arreola, San Diego’s honored guest

Not  everybody, but  almost everybody gathered around for this group photo, Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at the Barrio Station Recreation Center in San Diego. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Memorable photo: On Wednesday, April 23, 2014, heavyweight contender Chris Arreola (c) and his support staff were invited guests at the Barrio Station Recreation Center in the Barrio Logan neighborhood of San Diego. Photo: Jim Wyatt

On Friday, April 18, pro boxer Chris Arreola’s wife Erin and daughter Danae made their weekly 100 mile trek from Riverside, CA to San Diego for a visit with their hero and enjoy some local sightseeing. This was their third visit and up to this point, they had already covered La Jolla and it’s cove, Pacific Beach, Mt. Soledad, Downtown, Del Mar and were soliciting suggestions for the coming weekend.

Erin’s man is in town to train for the most important fight of his professional career. He has been training locally at the House of Boxing in Paradise Hills for his rematch Saturday, May 10th against the Haitian Bermane “B. Ware” Stiverne, a formidable foe who resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.

fight poster

In their previous match, on April 27, 2013, the heavy punching Stiverne broke Arreola’s nose at the close of round three on his way to soundly defeating Arreola. On May 10th, Arreola is hoping to turn the tables at the Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in a bout for the WBC World Heavyweight Championship, a title that was vacated by the 42 year-old Vitali Klitschko back in December, 2013. 

Both Vitali and his younger brother Wladimir Klitschko have been caught up in that treacherous Russia versus Ukraine power struggle. As a result, on Monday, April 21, it was reported the Russian state-owned media group VGTRK had declined to purchase the broadcasting rights for the Saturday, April 26th match between the Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko (61-3-0, 51 KOs) and the Australian Alex Leapai (30-4-3, 24 KOs), a direct response to the brothers’ efforts for the independence of their homeland.

(top) In training, Wladimir Klitschko is seen hitting the mitts. (bottom, right) the Klitschko versus Leapi fight poster.

(top) In training, Wladimir Klitschko is shown hitting the mitts. (bottom, right) We see the Wladimir Klitschko versus Alex Leapai fight poster.

Leapai’s claim to fame is his unanimous decision victory over Denis Boytsov, who had been one of the top contenders, on November 23, 2013.

The Rossiya-2 Sports Channel, which is owned by VGTRK, has always broadcast the Klitschko fights. After Wladimir Klitschko heard the news, he wrote on his Twitter account: “I’m sorry for Russian boxing fans who will not see the fight scheduled for this Saturday, April 26 in Germany’s Oberhausen.” 

Real sorry, because it was going to cost him and his promoter a ton of money. 

Wladimir Klitschko is the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO World Heavyweight Champion and his older brother, Vitali, who left boxing in December to become one of the opposition leaders of the so-called Euromaidan Protest Movement in the Ukraine, has been working diligently behind the scenes in support of the military coup and ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych. Vitali Klitschko recently announced that he will be running for mayor of Kiev.

Getting back to that Arreola versus Stiverne bout of April 27, 2013: In that fight, Arreola, clearly controlling both the first and second rounds, was cruising along until Stiverne landed this tremendous overhand right just seconds before the bell sounded to end round three. The big punch not only broke Arreola’s nose, it sent him to the canvas. From that point on, Arreola was not only distracted by the pain but had trouble breathing. His opponent took control, became relaxed, and used his stiff jab to set up the one, two combinations. 

Fastforward to the Arreola family’s weekend of sightseeing. On Saturday, April 19, the family went to the 44th annual Chicano Park Day celebration. This year’s theme was “La Tierra Es De Quien La Trabaja: The Land Belongs To Those Who Work It.” 

Attendees delighted in the traditional music and dance, which included one of the most beautiful performances of Aztec Indigenous dance, coordinated by Danza Azteca Calpulli Mexihca. Other dance groups included ballet folklorico troupes, Ballet Folklorico Tierra, Flor y Canto and Ballet Folklorico Azquetzalli plus Danza Zapateado Rebelde by Mujeres en Resistencia. 

Live bands that performed included Chocolate Revolution, Sumatra, Big Quarters, Ruby Clouds, Trigger Nasty, Mariachi Imperial de San Diego, 2MX2, Project Unknown (Logan Teen Music Program), Back N Time, Cumbia Machin, Radio La Chusma and Sure Fire Soul Ensemble

In addition, there were the classic lowrider cars organized by the Amigos Car Club plus food, arts and crafts vendors selling their specialties. For the Arreolas it was fun day away from the daily grind of Training Camp.

The history of this area: 

In the early 1960s, the construction of I-5 further intruded on this relatively small community and severed Barrio Logan from Logan Heights. By 1969, the newly built Coronado Bay Bridge once again bisected the barrio. An estimated 1,500 families were displaced by the bridge and by industrial rezoning. 

While San Diego is often criticized for not really having neighborhoods, it’s not the case in Barrio Logan/Logan Heights where the residents have always found a way to hang together and battle against the developers who want to further carve up their area. 

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Photos, left were taken by the Klitschko family on Saturday, April 19 in Chicano Park. The rest of the photos were taken four days later on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

Photos (left) were taken by Danae Arreola on Saturday, April 19 in Chicano Park. The other photos were taken four days later on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

On the walls and pillars in Chicano Park, you can see the work of a great many artists who have helped the locals battle for their rights against oppressors who would disrupt their community. As a whole, the people in Barrio Logan/Logan Heights have an endearing bias towards anything that’s Mexican. You can be certain that on May 10th, all Mexican Americans will be pulling for Arreola to become the first WBC World Heavyweight Title holder of Mexican descent.  

While attending Saturday’s event, the Arreola family got to meet Rachel Ortiz, the Executive Director of the nearby Barrio Station Recreation Center with it’s well respected boxing program. Ortiz invited Arreola and his troupe to stop by their facility. At the appointed time, 5 p.m., Wednesday, April 23rd, after another grueling workout at the House of Boxing, the group from Riverside pulled into the Barrio Station parking lot at precisely 10 minutes to five. As you can imagine, the youngsters and many adults went bonkers when they saw their hero come through the door. Out came the black felt pens and souvenir gloves for autographs. 

Arreola, like that big brother you always wished for, went from one parent or one youngster to the next answering questions, joking around and having photos taken. It was a Chris Arreola love fest.

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There was no way to fit everyone in the group photo. All photos: Jim Wyatt

There was no way to fit everyone in the group photo. All photos: Jim Wyatt

The youngsters had some interesting requests as far as where they   wanted his autograph  to go.

(top) The young ladies in these photos had some interesting requests as far as where they wanted his autograph to go.

This collage shows the many attractions that are on hand for the local

This collage shows the many computers, workout machines and games available.

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Veteran coach Tony Esparza asks Chris Arreola, "So you feel you can stop him by the third round?" Coach Ivan Puente disagreed and he predicted that Stiverne

(top) Difference of opinion: Veteran coach Tony Esparza (top) asks Chris Arreola, “So you figure you can stop him by the third round?” (bottom, left) Coach Ivan Puente (l) gave Stiverne a fighting chance and predicted Stiverne should be able to last until maybe the eighth round.

National City CYAC coach Jessie Tanner and his three students pose for a photo with the next World Champion.

National City CYAC coach Jessie Tanner (r) and his students pose for a photo with the next World Heavyweight Champion Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola.

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