The National Magazine of the Successful American Latino: Queensberry rules in and out of the ring – boxer Francisco Bojado

Queensberry rules in and out of the ring – boxer Francisco Bojado – Entrevista

Rick Laezman

Francisco “Panchito” Bojado

super lightweight WBC youth title holder

Vernon, California.

It is an unlikely settling, the second floor of an industrial building in Vernon, California. Mexican music blares from the overhead speakers, while workers cut and package fabric on long rabies that fill the vast open space of the warehouse. Beyond them, through a door in the far corner, is a small room filled with a boxing ring, punching bags, gloves, and tape. The makeshift gym is the training facility for a young boxer, Francisco Bojado, whom many have pegged as a rising star. The 18 year-old, who goes by the alias “Panchito.” has won all nine of his fights since turning professional in January 2001. All nine victories were by knockouts.

“I don’t want to say that any one fight was tougher than the others,” he says in earnest. “Every fight is important, and I train hard for all of them. All my fights were difficult.”

In addition to his impressive agility in the ring, Bojado has also earned a reputation for his poise and maturity outside of it. The reputation appears to be well deserved. Showing up 20 minutes late for his scheduled 11-a.m. workout, he appears through the door unruffled and quickly adjusts to the unexpected presence of an outsider. He graciously offers an interview while preparing to train.

“I got into boxing ten years ago,” he says by way of explaining his introduction to the sport. “It was my birthday, and my big brother and I were celebrating in Bristol Park. We went into the gym and saw that they were boxing. The trainer asked me if I wanted to spar, and I said sure.

“It was a good fit from the very beginning,” he says. “From my first fight, I did really good, so I just started liking it. I liked all the attention and the crowd.”

In retrospect, it was a natural combination since, by his own admission, Bojado was always a competitive boy. “Ever since I was little, I wanted to win a trophy in every sport I played.”

A woman interrupts the training so that he can autograph his portrait for the UPS deliveryman. Beyond such minor incidents, Bojado does not yet appear to have been caught in the limelight of celebrity.

“Sometimes it happens,” he says nonchalantly, regarding the fans and groupies that occasionally mob him after a fight. “I give out autographs, but it still feels kind of weird.” When pressed for an explanation, he simply replies, “I don’t know, it just feels weird.”

If Bojado appears young, it’s because he is. His eyes, voice, and mannerisms, even his hairdo, are of the typical American teenage variety–innocence, vulnerability, restlessness, defiance. But inside the ring, he is all man. Even his diminutive size–five feet seven inches tall, 135 pounds–seems to vanish as he overpowers his personal trainer who works with him in the ring.

Loud cracks pierce the air with every punch, as he smacks the trainer’s protective gloves. The old man is getting his own workout. When asked if his hands are hurting from the blows, the trainer does not muster the wind to answer.

Standing close to the ring for a better angle, even a physically fit and confident writer with a sixty-pound advantage is startled by the wind whipped up by the young man’s moves. The fighter grimaces to stretch his facial muscles, and in so doing, resembles a tiger about to chomp on its victim.

Bojado is power. Packaged in a small, tight, punching machine, his confidence is equally evident, in and out of the ring.

“Throw rocks, hit me with a chair, anything. Or better yet, just pull out,” he says with a laugh. when asked how he would prepare to fight himself. “I can box or I can brawl,” he adds. “It all depends on the opponent.”

Judging by his track record, his versatility has served him well. In addition to his professional success, Bojado has amassed ah equally impressive amateur record: 168-15, 85 knockouts. In 2000 he was a member of the Olympic boxing squad for his native Mexico.

Bojado, who was raised in East LA but born in Guadalajara, was happy to participate in the Sydney Olympics, but like any competitor worth his salt, he found it hard to settle for anything less than victory. “I only met half of my goals,” he says, sounding understandably disappointed. Bojado was eliminated from the competition after losing his second match. “I wanted to go to the Olympics, but I also wanted to get a medal.”

Preparing for the Olympics also interfered with one of his other objectives. “I really wanted to finish school early, and I could have, if I hadn’t had to do three years of training camp,” he says of the conflict. “I’m still working on that now, and I win finish it eventually.”

Emphasis is on the “will.” Watching and talking lo this 18-year-old athlete leaves an unmistakable impression that he is not one to come up short of his goals, whether in the ring or in the classroom.

Confidence is contagious, and the boxing world appears to be equally optimistic about Bojado’s future. He was recently elevated from a ranking of 13 to 5 by the North American Boxing Federation in the super lightweight division (135 pounds). The higher ranking clearly pleases him, although it poses some new challenges.

“Now that I’m in the top ten, I have to start fighting the top contenders,” he says, sounding somewhat pumped about the prospect. When asked if he is ready, he laughs and says, “Yeah, I’m ready.”

Bojado’s personable demeanor and his aw-shucks attitude remain two of his most refreshing and endearing traits in a sport notorious for producing ignorant brutes. When asked if his commitment to boxing of the success it has brought him make him any different from other young men his age, he dismisses the notion. “It hasn’t really affected me,” he says. Then, after giving it a little more thought, he admits, “I’m definitely more disciplined. I guess I am a little friendlier, a little more sociable than I would have been otherwise. I know I’ll just talk to anybody.”

While boxing may have done wonders for his interpersonal skills, it is also beginning to aid Bojado’s finances. He has three managers and does not seem to be concerned about the usual graft and exploitation that is commonly associated with his sport. “Each one manages the other.” he smirks.

By his account, they are doing a good job. Although he is not a marquis fighter yet, he is making enough money to pay his parents’ home mortgage. “I’m not struggling,” he says.

When discussing his long-term aspirations, Bojado clearly harbors no modest ambitions. It is at this point that he loses his boyish charm and starts to sound like a typical athlete, one driven by boundless ego. “I want to be one of the greatest fighters that have ever lived, like Mohammed Ali. I want to be in fights that people are never going to forget.”

While that goal may be a long way off, Bojado’s boxing career appears to be al a breakthrough point. His next fight, scheduled for spring 2002, will be on the same card as none other than Mike Tyson. by far the most popular draw of the sport.

How does Bojado feel about it? He sums it up in typical, teenage vernacular: “Right now, everything is going good. I’m just having fun with it.”

COPYRIGHT 2002 Ferraez Publications of America Corp.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group