Miguel Ayon and the Shafter Boxing Club have joined an elite group of individuals and groups that have been honored with the title of Grand Marshal of the Shafter Cinco de Mayo Festival. Ayon was surprised at the announcement, saying that he was very honored and thankful for the nomination.
Ayon got involved in the Shafter Police Department’s PAL program back in 2009, helping out with the kids as they trained for the boxing program. Ayon left the program a short time later, deciding to start his own program, training kids at his house in his front yard. “I wanted to give the kids somewhere to go to keep fit and keep them off of the streets.”
Ayon said that he didn’t have such a program growing up and he ended up taking a path that he doesn’t recommend for Shafter’s youth. “I didn’t take an easy path and it was rough growing up. I didn’t want the kids to have to struggle like I did, wanted to give them somewhere to go.” Ayon said that growing up, kids want to belong somewhere, to something. “If they don’t have somewhere and something to belong to, they might get into life on the streets, or into gangs.” Ayon would train the kids five days a week, training them on boxing techniques, getting them up to a competitive level. Once this happened, the reputation of the Shafter Boxing Club grew.
“When we first started, no one in the boxing world knew where Shafter was on a map. They sure know now,” said Ayon.
In the club’s latest competition the group was named the top boxing club in the nation, getting the overall Champion Belt, with five individual champions at the Silver Gloves Junior National tournament in Independence, MO. “It was crazy, there were clubs a lot bigger than ours, from Chicago, Milwaukee, Phoenix, a lot of places. We came out on top of all of them,” said Ayon.
Ayon and the group will ride in the Cinco de Mayo Festival Parade and will also be a part of the festivities at Mannel Park after the parade, holding an exhibition at the park, showing off some of the members’ skills.
Ayon, who is not comfortable talking about the accolades bestowed upon him and his team said that he has never been in it for the fame or recognition, but he is still honored and pleased by the confirmation that he is doing something good and right. From his front yard, the group, with help from community members and then Assembly member Rudy Salas, they opened a gym on Lerdo Highway in which they could train. Upon the sale of the property in the last couple of years, Ayon and his volunteer staff built a gym at Ayon’s house, once again the site of the group’s training and progression.
One community member that Ayon wanted to single out was City Council member Gilbert Alvarado. Alvarado has been a major support for the group since its inception. “Gilbert has been in our corner all of the way and has been a major motivator for me, encouraging me and the team to keep reaching for our dreams,” said Ayon. He also wanted to thank his wife and kids who have been so supportive. Ayon also thanked the Shafter Boxing Club’s team parents, who have made this success possible. “All of the parents and the kids are part of my family.”
Article courtesy of The Shafter Press
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