Once again, tragedy strikes San Diego/Tijuana boxing community

Felix Castro (center, red tank top) is surrounded by family and friends.

                                      Felix Castro Verdugo (1991-2010)

Felix “the Cat” Castro, just 18 years old and a student at Southwest High School in San Ysidro, Ca. died Friday from a freak accident involving a bottle cap that became lodged in his throat.


As an amateur boxer in 2008 and 2009, the Mexican National Junior Olympic Heavyweight Champion, enjoyed some of his finest hours in the ring. In Monterrey, Mexico, during the 2008 National Junior Olympics, also known as “Olimpiada Nacional,” he was behind early but rallied back to win a stunning victory.

Prior to the finals in 2009, Castro’s family, friends and fans went to the State Auditorium in Mexicali, where they had an opportunity to celebrate another great victory. This time he defeated José Alberto Mata on June 5, 2009. The road to these championships can be a long one, mainly because as an amateur you have to compete first in a state qualifying round and then comes the regionals.

It was up to Castro to combine the boxing routine with his school studies. Prior to a bout in Tecate, Mexico in 2009, he told a former El Mexicano Sportswriter, Arturo Amador, “One thing has taken me to another. Thanks to boxing, I have improved my level and performance at school. Because of that, I have the chance to practice and compete. Victory is my motivation. Every fight that I’ve had, I did not have any questions about winning and ended with my head high, my chin up. It is a question of pride and discipline. Last year (2008) I did it right, and this year (2009), I will be even better.”

His love of the sport and invincible attitude stayed with him even into the professional ranks. “I have a special preference for boxing; it’s my passion,” he said recently. Castro’s pro-career has not one blemish and he won all three of his matches in 2010.

He also liked the Mixed Martial Arts, MuayThai/kickboxing and NFL football, and enjoyed watching the NFL games with his dad. “I remember when I was very young and my dad used to take me to see the boxing matches. That was my first experience. One day I told him that I wanted to be a boxer.”

The process was hard at first but after a few years, Castro merited the approval of his parents to compete. “As long as I kept up with my school work, I had the chance to practice. I had to have good grades.”

After excelling in the amateur ranks, he decided to turn professional. At that point he became so resolute, so tenacious, he managed to trim forty pounds off his frame. On February, 20, 2010, he debuted as a 160 pound middleweight. His opponent, Angel Jimmy, was knocked out in the very first round.

Just one example of his altruistic nature: After winning his last pro-bout in Mexico, Felix turned down his share of the fighter’s purse and asked that the promoter please give his share to the other boxer who had a wife and two children.

For the last three months the middleweight prospect trained under the tutelage of Sergio Melendrez at the Alliance Training Center in Chula Vista. Coach Melendrez remembers the first evening when his dad brought the young man into the gym to ask for his help.

The coach took an immediate liking to both the father and young Felix. “There was no one who didn’t like him,” said the grieving coach after learning of his death. “I don’t know what to say at such a terrible time. This is every parent’s nightmare. I can’t imagine what they’re going through. He was a very like-able kid. I am deeply saddened by the news. I’m sure everyone is.”


Below are excerpts from a memorial piece written by Stephanie Meza in the Raiders Digest, a student publication at Southwest High School. In the discourse she writes her farewell to fellow student Felix Castro.

To an athlete dying young

By Stephanie Meza

Felix “El Gato” Castro was a former raider who passed away on October 9, 2010. What made him stand out from others was his boxing career. Born on December 16, 1991, he had a future in boxing and represented Baja California on the Mexican National team. He brought home two medals, one in 2008, another in 2009. He would train every day at the Mojac gym, in hopes of one day becoming known around the world for what he did in the boxing ring. Felix had the support of everyone, especially his father and coach. With his goals clearly set, he was suddenly derailed from that quest after winning his first three matches.

On Saturday, October 9th, while at a family reunion, Felix was chewing on a water bottle cap and suddenly swallowed it. He tried to pull it out, and many of his family members tried as well but it was stuck. They rushed him to the hospital, but he died on the way. His death was a shock to everyone. The way it happened made many of us reflect on our own mortality. No one expected Felix, a boxing champion, to die at such a young age and in such an unexpected way.

His classmates were in shock. Tabatha Aceves, a former Raider and friend said: “Felix was such a sweet and fun person. I saw him as a happy individual because he was so good at what he loved to do: Box. I’m very sad and shocked by his death. I will always remember him.”

The champion and loyal friend will always be remembered, not only for what he did in the ring, but for the funny and happy guy everyone knew him to be at school.

R.I.P. Felix

You will be missed but NEVER forgotten.

At the very next pro-boxing show in San Diego the boxing community paid special tribute to Felix Castro at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel. Photo: Jim Wyatt

Felix Castro (C) is joined by Emilio Arellano (L) and Antonio Margarito (R).

Imagine having an opportunity on a daily basis to spar with one of Mexico's top boxers ever, Antonio Margarito (L). That was the case for young Felix Castro (R).

After one of his workouts, Felix Castro posed for a photo with one of his trainers (L) and his Dad (R).

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