After his service in the United States Marine Corps, Anthony Franco came to The Arena, originally to wrestle. When he crossed paths with Boxing Coach Joe Vargas, he set out on a new journey has set his sights on boxing in the Olympics.
My name is Anthony Franco. 152 pound amateur, top ranked in USA Boxing. I fight in the elite division. I’m from Redlands, California, and I’m fighting out of San Diego, California. I had a child at 19. His name is James. He’s three years old now, so I had to grow up really fast. I wanted to be a great father and hopefully one day be a good husband. Thank God the Marine Corps is right there for me. I’m very proud of my service, proud of my country. I got out recently in September and I’m just ready for this new chapter in my life in boxing.
When I was about seven years old, my cousins had a gym in their garage. My uncle would make me put on the gloves and we would have to fight each other, so boxing was always there. I just never took it seriously and plus my mom never let me throw the gloves on. I came here to The Arena to actually go on my venture wrestling. I was a pretty competitive wrestler in high school. I was here one day and I saw Joe. Saw everybody sparring, pretty much asked if I could spar. I had no mouthpiece, no head gear, I just threw the gloves on. I just wanted to get in there with my teammate now, CC, and he dropped me with this body shot in the second or third round. From that day on I was like, “I’m going to get his ass back.”
Coach Joe Vargas:
He wanted to spar and I threw him in there and I noticed that he had something, I don’t know, something you can’t teach. He had no boxing fundamentals taught to him. He said he wanted to fight. I tried to discourage him by putting him in with really good opposition because I just thought, “Oh, it’s going to be an uphill battle with him. He’s 19 years old. I don’t think he’s going to be teachable.” He proved me wrong. I saw that there was something special about him.
If I win this tournament, I get to travel with Team USA and go to the international tournaments. When 2019 comes around and Olympic qualifies are there, if you have enough points, you’ve secured your spot so it’s on my mind. But growing up, the Olympics was never on my mind. It was just always, “Be a world champion.”