Boxing: Torres is positive trouble

Samuel Torres, 10, has performed well inside the ring for Hollister Boxing.

Samuel Torres sat down in an office chair at the Hollister Boxing facility, having just stopped his run to talk with a reporter. If he wasn’t drenched in sweat, one would’ve never known he had just been running for 20 minutes nonstop. That’s the type of physical condition the fifth grader from Ladd Lane Elementary School is in.
Torres loves running almost as much as he does boxing. Not coincidentally, Torres has already won three national titles at age 10, a testament to his work ethic in and out of the ring.
“I love running because it makes me stronger,” said Torres, who is the top-ranked boxer in the nation in his weight class (85 pounds) and age division (10 and under) according to the Independent Worldwide Amateur Boxing Rankings. “When I fight, I feel stronger because of all the running and training I do.”
Torres loves running with his trainer, Charles Perales, who is the lead trainer at Hollister Boxing. Perales gave Torres the nickname ‘Trouble’ a couple of years ago, in part to describe the situation of Torres’ future opponents once they stepped inside the ring with Torres.
It’s turned out to be prophetic, as Torres has won the majority of his matches. Torres is Perales’ godson, and their relationship has a father-son feel to it.
“He’s like a father to me,” Torres said. “I love Charles because he’s my coach and he’s always there for me.”
Said Perales: “We’re together a lot, and we’ve shared many great moments.”
Two weeks ago at the National Police Activities League (PAL) Championships in Oxnard, Torres won a three-round unanimous decision in the 85-pound weight class. In mid-July, Torres captured a title in the Desert Showdown Championships, a national tournament in Indio.
“The PAL tournament was probably his best fight,” Perales said. “He really did good.”
Torres agreed: “I pressured (my opponent), threw my jab well and was proud of what I did.”
Torres said he plans on getting stronger as he gets older, knowing he’ll be facing more powerful opponents in the next year as he moves up an age division. Whereas in the past Torres fought 9- and 10-year-olds, within the next year he’ll be fighting 11 year olds who are vastly more skilled and experienced.
“I’m working on my power punches,” Torres said. “I want my core to get stronger to help me be stronger in my legs, and I’m working on my defense, too.”
Torres, who is a classic counterpuncher with a strong left jab, is a boxer on the rise, and he doesn’t let defeats deter him. Perales knows his young protégé can learn from losses, such as was the case in early August when Torres lost a decision in the final of the Ringside World Championships in Missouri.
“We thought he won, but at the same time we made tiny little mistakes,” Perales said. “If we would’ve been a little more aggressive, he might have won that fight easily. At the PALs, he was being the aggressor.”
Torres already has a professional athlete’s mentality when it comes to nutrition. He views food as fuel for his body, preferring salmon, grapefruit and salad over junk food. Of course, Torres like to indulge with a treat every once in a while, but for the most part it’s easy for him to eat healthy.
“When I’m at school, the lunch lady gives me salads,” he said.
Torres tends to be shy in normal everyday life, but when he’s in between the ropes, he morphs into a different person. When the lights are shining and the crowd is buzzing, that’s when Torres feels the most energized.
“I like fighting for titles because everyone is watching you,” he said. “When I fight, I want people to say this kid is good.”
Perales has Torres spar regularly with older ranked kids; as a result, when Torres fights boxers in his division, it’s literally inferior competition. Torres must continue to improve as he gets older, as the competition in the boys division gets more difficult with each ascending age group.
“Next year will be tougher because he’ll be fighting 11 year olds, but I’m confident there will be no letdown,” Perales said.
Torres said winning three national titles wouldn’t have been possible without his mom, Liz Castellanos, whom he counts as his best friend.
“She loves me a lot and takes me everywhere to box and train,” Torres said.
When Torres came to the Hollister Boxing facility three years ago, he was like every other kid who entered the gym for the first time: raw and needing direction in the sport.
“He came in with talent, but the most important thing is he made up his mind he wanted to become something,” Perales said.
What separates Torres apart from other youths Perales has trained in the past is the combination of Torres’ work ethic and inner drive to improve.
“Samuel comes here everyday wanting to develop into a champion,” Perales said. “He could change boxing if we stay on track—he’s that special.”
Said Torres: “Training is my favorite thing to do.”
No kidding. When Torres has a week or two off during the school year, most of his peers take vacations with their families. Not Torres. He runs, spars or does a combination of both during his off time. When Torres won a title at the PAL Nationals, he was in Long Beach the very next morning to spar with a well-known junior fighter.
While Torres gets excited after his victories, Perales tends to be more emotional. The trainer is, after all, a veteran of the sport and knows opportunities to coach a young talented boxer don’t come along too often.
After Torres won the Silver Gloves National Championship in the 8-9, 85-pound boys novice division on Feb. 7, 2014, Perales nearly came to tears.
“I was closer to crying than he was,” Perales said. “Sammy has made everyone proud. He’s a motivated kid, and there’s really no light switch to turn on because he’s prepared for everything and knows how to get the job done.”

Leave your comments