Coach Joe Vargas Working with Young Boxer Jabin Chollet

The devil is in the details. There is a huge difference between a pad holder and a coach. Anyone can make you tired or teach you a pattern, but can you replicate it under pressure against a resisting opponent? Everyone knows the same tools and lots of people can teach you “how”, but real coaches can teach you why. This is what we do. Here is Boxing Coach Joe Vargas working with his amateur boxer Jabin Chollet.


Coach Joe Vargas:
Let me get in. I’m going to show you off. Upper cut here. Right hand, reload it. Left hook. Okay? Control your head, okay? So I push you off. No, I pushed you too far, so don’t get limp… That’s the short range right there, short range punch. Yeah, make sure you use your hips, not your whole upper body. Go. Good. Good. Give me a hook off that. Same target.

You’re pulling your head. Come on.Keep your head on me. There you go. Here I come. Here I come. Nice. Nice shot. One, two. No, get that one, too good. Come on. Don’t fall forward too much with your body. Lean back a little bit.

Now, stop yourself right there. See? Come on. Lean back, not forward. There you go. You’re stepping in to it way too much. Go back. Right there. See? So, I’m going to shrug you off, right? We’re going to go here. Go same thing we’re doing. [foreign language 00:00:57]. Give me two. Make sure you’re good on that, okay? Make sure your legs aren’t too far apart.

Okay, here we go. There you go. Nice. One more time. I get in. I don’t like you here, go. Good. Nice. That hook needs to be wide, because you’re inside. You’re going to create that power right here. That one, I have my hand up, right? One. Two. And then from here, this hand has to come behind my gloves. Boom. So, this one has to be wide and turn your hip on it. So here, push me off a little bit. Push me off. So you open me up, right?

I’m open right there. Look at those ribs. Boom. Reload. Boom. And look how far your head is from me. So once you’re that far from me, I’m coming wide. Okay? So here we go again. Take three. I’m here. Go. There you go. Okay? He’s here. Go. Look for it.

Nice defense. Nope. Don’t turn over on it. Turning over on it. Step back. Shoulders back. Right there. Control your shoulders. Don’t put your shoulders right here. Put your shoulders right here. Hands up. Turn your hips over. Go.

See? Now add a left hook to that. Bend down. Right there. Good. Vice versa. There you go. Don’t step in too much. Good. Good. Back, back. Good. Wait for me. Good. Nice.

The Story of Jacob Macalolooy’s Life Long Journey in Martial Arts

Jacob Macalolooy is a life long martial artist, coming from a long family tradition of fighting. This is his story and his reflection on his training as he approaches the end of being an elite level amateur boxer looking to go pro. From Kajukenbo, to Kickboxing and MMA, to Division One Wrestling, and now Boxing, Jacob personifies the way of living the martial arts life.


Jacob Macalolooy:
My names is Jacob Noah Macalolooy. I’m a lifetime martial artist, and I’m currently an elite amateur boxer fighting at The Arena.

My family has a deep history in martial arts and fighting. My grandfather and his brother were boxers. And when my dad was a young child, he started training in Kajukenbo. It’s a self-defense art from Oahu, Hawaii. It was during the 1940s, there were a lot of sailors on the island and they would get in fights with the locals. So the locals had to come up with a more effective fighting style and self-defense style. So these five masters got together from karate, judo, jujitsu, kenpo, and boxing, and they basically blended their styles to create this traditional mixed martial art.

In 1997, my dad was able to start his martial arts school just out of my grandparents’ garage. And eventually we got our own building and that’s pretty much how I grew up. I grew up in a dojo and ever since I started doing martial arts, when I was about five years old, I started wrestling at the same time.

Every wrestler has a love-hate relationship with the sport just because it’s so tough and it’s so grueling and hard on the body and the mind. So in high school, I never really wanted to wrestle in college. I just thought of college as a time where I was supposed to have fun, but by the time I was a junior in high school, I started to get some offers. And I started to realize that my wrestling could really give me an opportunity to have a higher education and it can just really open doors for me.

So getting the opportunity to wrestle at Columbia university, was really something special. There’s no way that I would be the athlete that I am now had I not competed at the D-1 level in wrestling for Columbia university.

September 2018, I started training at The Arena. I was mainly just training with the MMA guys, but I always had this idea that I might be able to compete in boxing. So I started getting in Coach Basheer’s ear. He’d seen me in there scrapping with MMA guys. So, that’s pretty much his perspective of me. “Yeah, yeah, you think you can just come in here and box because you got some MMA stuff.” But I knew as a martial artist, I really had a foundation, so I knew that would be able to switch gears and really just focus on my hands and focus on my movement.

I just stayed at it and I just kept training hard. And one day Coach is like, “All right, you can go jump in with one of my guys.” And I showed him what I really had to offer. It has just been such a learning and growing experience to be able to learn under Coach Basheer. I just feel really blessed and excited and grateful to be part of this team. Now I’m getting ready to compete in my last competition as an amateur at the Nationals in Louisiana. And from there as soon as possible, I’m going to try and get my pro debut.

Being a fighter has always been a core part of my identity ever since I could remember. And really being close with my family, having a big family, competing ever since I was a little kid and just always having all this support. And there’s really no feeling like it, especially when you’re successful and for them to cheer you on and to just be proud. There’s just nothing that motivates me more. And here in San Diego, I have my own family and that just adds to it on a whole different level. I’m really just planting seeds for it right now. And soon enough, I’m really going to start to see the fruits of all my work.

Coaches Chuck and Vince Try Virtual Reality Boxing Game

Coaches Charles Martinez and Vince Salvador had to check out the Oculus Quest 2 and play boxing game Thrill of the Fight! Enjoy watching them analyze the game and find benefit for actual training plus actually get a workout. Virtual reality has come a long way and now really offers a next level of interactive fun.


Coach Chuck:
Hey, what’s up? This is Coach Chuck, Coach Vince from The Arena. Today we’re going to be trying the Oculus. We’re going to try Thrill of the Fight boxing game, so we’ll see how that goes.

Coach Chuck:
Oh s**t. Nice. He actually hit me.

Coach Chuck:
This was fun, dude.

Coach Vince:

The winner is the red corner.

Coach Vince:
What corner am I?

Camera Crew:

Coach Vince:
Did I win?

Camera Crew:

Coach Vince:
Holy s**t. That’s a f***ing workout.

I can’t let that motherf***er win, bro. I couldn’t. I hit him with everything, dude.

Coach Chuck:
That was actually pretty fun. Yeah. I mean, I tried to play with as many different options as possible, like see if it created openings, how it reacted to stuff, and it showed me where strikes work. I can go high. I can go low. I can touch the body and see where things opened up. It’s a good tool if you already have some basic skills to actually see an opponent without that fear of getting hit, it was definitely interesting. It feels a lot more real than you think.

Coach Vince:
Pretty realistic. The range was on point. It’s a workout. You know, you’re out there and the guy reacts the way a normal guy would react in a real fight, so it’s like being able to see all the little small details like footwork and understanding angles without actually getting hit. So I mean, I think it’s a good training tool, but it’s also a lot of fun.

Arena Pro Boxer Nigel Fennell Prepares for Fight in Colombia

Arena Pro Boxer Nigel Fennell prepares for his 10th fight this weekend in Colombia. Nigel is 9-0 with 6 knockouts, and he’s looking to make a statement this weekend against a seasoned veteran to climb the rankings. Good luck, Nigel!


Nigel Fennell:
My name is Nigel Fennell, I’m a pro boxer out of The Arena gym in San Diego, California. I’m 9-0 with six knockouts, and I’m going on my 10th fight this Saturday in Cartagena, Colombia.

Joe Vargas is a very strict coach. We have a tight bond, a close relationship. He makes sure that I’m working as hard as possible, that I’m correcting my mistakes, and I’m getting what I need as a professional fighter. We have three fights together, and this will be our fourth consecutive fight.


I’ve had about six weeks to prepare for this fight. This will be my first eight-rounder fight. I’m fighting a veteran out of Cartagena, Colombia. I know that he’s a pressure fighter and he knows how to go to the distance. I’m very confident in my abilities, mentally and physically, and I know I’m going to put on a great performance on Saturday.

Smokin’ Joe Perez’s Story of Overcoming Adversity in Boxing and Life

Arena Pro Boxer Smokin Joe Perez discusses his history in boxing and with Coach Basheer Abdullah @elite__trainer. Joe fought and won his 22nd pro fight in Davenport, IA on February 6th. Congratulations to him and good luck to the future!


Joe Perez:
Growing up, my father was a big fan of boxing. He took me to the gym when I was eight years old. I walked into the gym, the trainer there told me I was too small. I should go play a different sport. He kind of just blew me off. So that summer, I went and played baseball. After that baseball season ended, I was hanging out with one of my neighborhood friends and his brother-in-law, Steve VanDeWalle, and he said, “Hey, do you want to box?” And I said, “Yeah.” And so he took me to the same gym that my dad had taken me the year before. I told him, “I don’t know, the trainer inside, he told me that I’ll never be anything. I’m too small, too weak, too skinny.” He told me, “You know what? Don’t ever listen to anybody tell you you can’t do anything. I’ll be your trainer. Let me decide that.”

My fourth year training with Steve, I won my first national amateur title. Just kept pushing and pushing, and I won three national junior amateur titles. It was a big accomplishment for me. It was a way to show back to the old trainer who once told me I’ll never be anything. By the time I Was 17, 18, I was getting in some trouble. Steve saw that I’m headed down the wrong path, made a call to Basheer Abdullah, who was his former trainer. He said, “Hey, I got this kid. I’d like for you to take a look at him and see if you can get him in.”

He sent me out there for about two weeks just for trial and I enjoyed it. Basheer liked me, but I was involved with a girlfriend. I didn’t want to move, kept getting in trouble. It got to the point where I really didn’t have a choice. Steve made the call again to Basheer and said, “Hey, I need to get this kid out of here.” A week later, I was on the Greyhound bus headed to Colorado, and I was there for about four years. We were getting ready for the 2012 Olympics and I made it to the Olympic trials.

In 2013, Basheer and I decided to move to San Diego, California, and pick up our boxing career here. My biggest motivation now is my family. I got three daughters. I continue to just keep trying to show them a good example of hard work, being disciplined, being dedicated to something, and believe in yourself 100%. Have some heart and you’ll get there.

Professional Boxer Austin Brooks Fighter Profile

Arena Pro Boxer Austin Brooks discusses his journey in his boxing, and his plans for the future. Austin is the type of quiet professional that comes in every day and works hard that all coaches love.


Austin Brooks:
My name’s Austin Brooks. I’m a professional boxer. I compete at featherweight and super featherweight, and I’m fighting out of The Arena. I was born in Idaho, and I moved around a lot growing up, like five different states. So I wouldn’t really say I had a hometown, but I consider San Diego my hometown now. I started boxing when I was 17. When I started training at City Boxing. I started training with Vernon Lee. Me and him built a real good relationship. I didn’t have much of a father figure growing up so that was the first time I really had somebody in my life that was a positive role model. He really got me not only physically right but mentally right too, for the sport.

I just decided to make the move to The Arena because I wasn’t competing enough. I wanted to sharpen up. I wanted to get better, and I really wanted to start competing. And I knew Coach Basheer over here and Joe Vargas. They’re really good coaches, and I just wanted to take my game to the next level. I had a pretty short amateur career, not that many fights, only 20 fights. I was 18 and 2, wasn’t competing that much. I just had a lot of stuff keeping me back from competing, but that’s kind of why I made the change to coach this year. He’s really on top of his game, really focused on his fighters and getting them to that next level.

So my short-term plan would say, just get some fights going. I really want to get at least five to six fights this year. And eventually work down to that title where I can get a world title. My family, they’re a huge support. They definitely keep me hungry, keep me pushing, and I do have goals to help out my family in the end. So they’re definitely a huge motivation for me.

Boxing Coach Joe Vargas’ Incredible Weight Loss Transformation

Boxing Coach Joe Vargas discusses his love of running out in nature and how it contributed to his huge weight loss and transformation in this past year. Don’t wait, start today. Every journey begins with one step!


Coach Joe Vargas:
There’s something about running in the mountains, it just feels so natural. Just challenging yourself in the terrain, and it just feels like something we’re supposed to do, we just forget about it. Running and seeing the sun come up over the mountains, it’s just a beautiful feeling I really enjoy.


As I got older and I see pictures of myself, I didn’t realize how much weight I had gained. I didn’t see the same resemblance in a mirror. And that’s when I weighed myself and I weighed 245. I just challenge myself every day to run more and more. I started at half a mile, and right now I’m running about an average of 10 miles a day. Ever since I started running in February, I lost over 75 pounds. 


When New Year comes, we all have goals, and within 15, 20 days, we forget about our goals. It took me four months to feel good. So just get at it, and you guys can do it. Whatever you guys set your goals to do, you guys can handle it. Just keep, keep, keep chopping at it.

What is Your Motivation for Training?

We’re all walking different paths. Coach Charles Martinez discusses how everyone we interact with on this martial arts journey has different goals and motivations. We should help build each other up instead of letting our egos and greed dictate how we treat each other. Leading into the new year we will all grow and get stronger together.


Coach Charles Martinez:
Hello. My name is Coach Charles Martinez from The Arena and today I wanted to discuss a motivation. I want to take this from a slightly different perspective, often in sport especially in these combat sports that we all train in, the motivation is always to be the best and to smash everyone. And I think we forget sometimes that that’s not what most people’s motivation was when they came into the gym. A lot of people are training to address fears or to feel more powerful and I think a lot of times we, especially if you’ve been training a long time or you’re a fighter, or you’re a competitor, you have the tendency of looking down on people that aren’t as good as you. And just because they’re not as good as you at this sport that you’ve chosen to be good at it doesn’t make them lesser. It just means that either their athletic ability isn’t as high, but really their motivation could be different than yours.

Just because your motivation is to go out and be the best in the world, maybe that’s not theirs. Maybe their motivation is to feel stronger, to just be more comfortable in their skin every day and maybe that’s what they’re getting. So sometimes we have the tendency of getting frustrated with our training partners and kind of forgetting that we were new once also. Maybe they’re new, maybe one day they’re going to be your best training partner, they don’t have to be a world beater to give you good work.

So I think sometimes we stray away from that and we forget that we’re all walking a different path but we all ended up in the same place. So if you take that and you treat everyone as if, hey, this could have been me on one of my first days and if someone was kind of crappy to me, maybe I would have never come back. So I think once you switch your perspective, if you could look from outside of yourself and see that maybe this person’s not like you, maybe they’re scared, maybe they’re terrified and they don’t want to get screamed at. Maybe they’ve never been an athlete, maybe they’ve never played a sport. They came here to feel better and to feel empowered and how you treat them, even if something trivial, something like, hey, good job. Even if it wasn’t a good job, just that little bit of motivation might be the reason they come back the next day. And maybe one day they turn into a valuable training partner, but either way, even if they’re only here for six months and it improves their life somehow, and it was worth it, that was their motivation, not yours.

So sometimes I think we forget, we think everyone is looking at the world through our same perspective, it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe their motivation is different than yours. You should still respect it because ultimately that’s what we’re all here for.

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