Boxing Coach Joe Vargas Visits Community Youth Athletic Center

The Arena’s Boxing Coach Joe Vargas takes a stroll down memory lane at the Community Youth Athletic Center in National City, California. He talks with his old coach and shows us the gym he starting boxing at.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:

Joe Vargas:
This was my conditioning coach. This is my coach, Clemente. This is the guy who taught me discipline. I knew how to fight very little, but he taught me how to be responsible and disciplined. Clemente, he’s running the youth center here where I started at.

Clemente Casillas:
I think Joe had gotten out of juvenile hall. I won’t, I don’t remember exactly to what, but they said he needed some discipline and would I coach him, would I run with him in the morning and obviously I said yes. I jumped on it and that’s how our friendship started, you know. I started picking him up every day and just disciplining him and running him. Sometimes in the mornings we would skip the run, go to breakfast, and we’d have a long conversation about life. About what the discipline was and it wasn’t just necessarily about boxing, but then what happens inside the ring, so much of what happens outside the ring and what you bring to it, you bring to life.

Joe Vargas:
A lot of life lessons too. Like I ever think my role was this small. When I met him, my head was in my way of thinking. I remember when he took me to play golf and I thought it was the dumbest thing in the world. That’s opened my, that golf, I’m not good at it, but golf has opened a lot of doors networking with me in boxing and in life. When people just go play golf with somebody and then what’s so funny, it’s just a small thing of what I learned from him.

Clemente Casillas:
Socializing.

Joe Vargas:
Yeah.

Clemente Casillas:
Our program is called the Community Youth Athletic Center, based on helping inner city kids stay off the street. We also have a tutoring program in the back so all the kids are required to bring in their homework. We have about 50 kids who come in through the center pretty much every day and I like to say that we make an impact or have made an impact having Christmas parties here, getting involved with even US Border patrol, SDPD, the fire department. Just getting involved in the community, not just boxing but everything else because boxing is just the beginning. I’ve always said that if this was a swimming club or even a golf club, I would never have gotten Joe. It takes a certain kind of kid. This is, again we go back to the issue of this is a poor man’s sport.

Joe Vargas:
It goes back to, we’re in the neighborhood right now. I’ll show you where we grew up at. Most kids are not going to do no other sports besides contact sports, that’s all they want to see. The reason they do contact boxing, because to play football and baseball, you have to have good grades and some of these kids don’t have structure at home. What they look for is something to, put their energy in and they want to come in and fight. Fighting is a natural instinct, we just got to learn how to do it the right way. Then when they’re here, we just channel that energy a little different, put them in the right path. That’s what the gym did for me and it’s doing for a lot of kids too.

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