I have found, most of the fighting goes on outside the ring in boxing. At least for the fighters, or the ones I know; ones like Abner Mares.
He's been fighting his entire life but not for some lofty title; like many boxers he's been fighting for his life his entire life, and the lives of those around him; his family, his friends, his community. And he also often has to fight stereotypes and stigmas, like those being raised by presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
"Donald Trump insulted me, my family, and my community, I take that very personally," this 29 year old athlete said as we settled in to very large movie-style recliners at his training gym. And I mean his. Mares, the entrepreneur, started Del Mares located in the impressive complex owned by both him and Del Records founder Angel Del Villar. I was overwhelmed by the world class training facilities, boxing ring, weight room, steam, sauna, everything a world class boxer could need nestled between recording studio and performance arena!
Why Bell Gardens, of all place? He could train any where in the world.
"Some boxers like to get away to focus on nothing but training. Let's face it, right now, I'm a science experiment," he laughed. "Everything I eat, drink, it's all measured, weighed, every calorie, every ounce of fluid, so that's taken care of by Luis (Garcia)," he added, Garcia sitting next to Mares with a salad that had writing on top about calories and such.
"So all I need to do is keep my head in the game and train hard, and I can't do that away from my family. I need the noise, I need the city, the people, my family and friends, without them, the days would seem wrong, so I stay here and train," he continued.
He's training for his next big fight, Premiere Boxing Champion's Saturday, August 29th Staples Center in Los Angeles match against Leo Santa Cruz. If you care about numbers, Mares is 29-1-1 with 15 KOs and Cruz is 30-0-1 with 17 KOs. Mares has won four of his last five fights but that doesn't matter.
"I always go in thinking about losing," he said. "So many people are counting on me, none more than myself. At the moment, when I'm in the ring, it's the only thing in the world, winning and losing. I'm ready, I'm focused, I can win," the determined young man emphatically stated.
But he wasn't always this focused. Trainer Mike Vital told me of a time when he would give Mares work as a teen just watching the gym, just to give him something to do. He became, like so many, a second son to Vital, who got Mares focused on the sport of boxing itself. He had a talent, and he could win.
CONTINUE: From Illegal Immigrant Child to Champion, How Does Mares Stays Grounded
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June 26th, 2015: Gay marriage ended -- suddenly, in a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling, it became just marriage.
I remember arguing so publicly 11 years ago on CNN and every other news network. Let's revisit those arguments.
And now, that fight is over for good.
I remember its real beginnings. AIDS. I was there during the 1980s when a president wouldn't mention the word, and a world turned its back on the sick. I remember ambulances not taking patients, doctors not touching people, nurses turning away and ultimately, funeral homes refusing bodies. In the 20th century, no less.
And I remember families shutting out loved ones. Couples that had been together 20 years -- one would get sick and the other was locked out of the hospital room, and ultimately locked out of their own house by family who had claims. You see, no marriage, no claims to property, to visitation -- nothing. Suddenly, when one got sick, the other lost their life and often their belongings. And it was legal.
The only way to rectify that was marriage, period, end of story. And the fight began.
Now, in the age of barebacking and PrEP therapies, younger gay men don't remember the root of the struggle, how it came to a head, finally, in the 1980s with the advent of that terrible disease that still had no cure and no really effective, safe, long-term treatment.
We owe this day, those on the side of marriage equality, to the Republicans in more ways than one. First, there is the beautifully drafted 14th Amendment to the Constitution; one written at time of reconstruction, after slavery. It states:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
In other words, equal equals equal, and since marriage is contract law, you can't discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation, race, or any other reason. Period.
Five of the justices got that. The other four, not so much, but like dinosaurs, they are falling in the tar pit of the wrong side of history, screaming and flailing about as they go. But going they are.
In one week the court has said yes, you can keep your health care America. Then the people said that a 150 year old flag was, in fact, bigotry and hatred. And now, the court again has said that gay people can marry in all 50 states. Not a bad week for Americans.
Reaction all day has been tears, hugs from strangers, congratulatory remarks. Finally.
I will save the nay-saying about gays in other countries and the atrocities that still exists. I will spare the fact that ENDA, which guarantees I can't be fired for being gay, still isn't the law of all 50 states.
Because today it wasn't #LoveWins. Today #WeAllWon because that fabulous document and that great amendment did its job.
Justice Kennedy, bless you. May joy find you and may your family be blessed. Because today, you created so many families in one fell stroke.
To all of you out there that have fought, straight, gay, whatever, I love you. Thank you. Today you didn't slap us down or make us feel second class. Today, we are Americans, one and all.
Broadway Musical Director and Emcee Brad Ellis
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Video Clip from Newsies Courtesy of Disney
"This play is so...Disney..." my friend Steve Cabral turned and said to me as we attended opening night as the musical theatre season kicked off at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, CA.
And the truth is, it is very Disney. After all, they're the producers and the movie the play was from, albeit an initial flop, is now a Disney cult classic.
The play, and movie, is the energetic Newsies now playing until April 19 and continuing on a national tour.
And while Cabral was thinking of the feel of the play, I was thinking of the substance. I'm part journalist, old school journalist, you know, pre-blogger. I know the importance of names like Hearst and Pulitzer, and I was once a paper boy, up before dawn, getting papers ready for my route.
You see, as a paper boy, each month I was billed for the papers I delivered; the amount that it took to fulfill my route. I billed the people on my route directly. I paid for the papers, and kept the difference.
That's pretty much how it was for the "newsies" of turn of the century. Each morning, they would show up, pay .50 cents, and get 100 papers. Until Pulitzer and the others decided to raise it to .60 cents for the same amount. This meant they had to sell more to make the same and they didn't like it. So, they organized, and revolted, and with the help of a little newspaper coverage, got the most powerful publishers in the world to listen.
A tale of that Davey vs. Goliath warrants a musical, and Newsies is that musical. The movie was directed and choreographed by Kenny Ortega in 1992. 20 years later, the stage musical has music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman, and a book by Harvey Fierstein. The musical premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in 2011 and made its Broadway debut in 2012.
Our lead is Jack Kelly and 20-something newsie that ends up being the leader of the rag-tag group of ruffians. He's played by they handsome Dan DeLuca who brought the crowed to their feet with his singing, dancing and exuberant delivery of the reluctant hero. Stephanie Styles as Katherine Pulitzer adds a plucky energy, one that the audience can't help but love from her first number Watch What Happens to the rousing 11 o'clock number Once And For All.
But what resounded so strongly about Newsies at this time of changing media is just that: the play is about media changing, about papers having to make do and how people suffer when major shifts in media entities happen. In 2015 as newsrooms disappear and there's even a newspaper death watch website the play is a reminder that as the last century saw major changes, changes that crippled some and drove others completely out of publishing, this century has seen the same. In fact, newspapers in 2015 feel part of a bygone era; one of more responsible journalism, and a centralized important source for information.
Comic, lively, downright hysterical at times, Newsies is a great time for young and old alike. It's an evening of theatre for a date, for an anniversary, or for the kids. It's the raucousness of Angela Grovey's "Medda Larkin" breaking the third wall and playing with the audience or the eternal tingle of what happens when boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-gets-girl-in-the-end all set to music. It's big dance numbers, pull-all-the-stops Broadway and it succeeds in part because Disney has this down to a science; the science of entertaining. It's a great kickoff to musical theatre season in Los Angeles and a rousing night of theatre for the entire family.
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