Argentine boxing champion trains young people to get them off drugs

The undisputed champion of South American and Argentine boxing, he finished in third place in the world rankings between 1970 and 1980. After his retirement, he decided to open a gym in 1-11-14, one of the most dangerous slums in Buenos Aires, with the goal of helping your community.

Children train at Jesús Romero’s boxing school.

It is about Jesús Romero, who at 67 years old runs a gym to get the boys off the street and away from the vices of drug trafficking settled in the neighborhood. It even provides them with a plate of food and a place to stay and assists those in need of expensive medical rehab.

Life in boxing began when he was nine years old: during a fight, someone told him that “if he didn’t go to Luna Park he wasn’t a boxer”, a phrase that stuck in his head. Soon after, he got a ticket to travel to the capital of the country, where that temple of Argentine boxing is located.

His parents had left him in the care of his grandmother in the northern province of Chaco, to whom he sent a letter, already in the capital, explaining that he had arrived to fulfill his dream. “When I got to Buenos Aires the buildings were falling on me,” Jesus told Efe.

All he had with him at the time was a small bag and a pair of boxing gloves, and as soon as he set foot in town he offered to help a merchant carry gas cylinders in exchange for food.

This first job took him to a police station located in Bajo Flores. There he told his story and the commissioner of that time promised to give him a place to eat and sleep in exchange for finishing school and training. Thus began his career.

“Until today it is my house, they raised me,” he recalled about the police station.

With 360 fights, eight defeats, and eleven draws, Romero retired undefeated from professional boxing and in 2009 founded a gym in Bajo Flores, the same Buenos Aires neighborhood he had come to from the north.

“MY GOAL ARE THE BOYS”

More than 300 people of all ages have gone through his training routines. Every day he teaches free to low-income children and adults who are interested in sports, have fallen into drugs, or need medical rehabilitation.

He changed his days in the ring to fight to get the boys off the street. “My goal is that tomorrow they can work, have a healthy life, a family, and study,” said Jesus.

“This gives me more pride than the titles and the silver that I won. The money is spent, but what remains are the children and it is very nice to sacrifice myself for them, “he added.

One of his students is Daniel Soria who, while practicing straight blows to a sandbag, glances at the children so that they follow the instructions of their teacher.

Sitting in a wheelchair due to an incomplete spinal cord injury, he keeps throwing punches that echo through the bag. Because he has been training daily for a year and a half, he can stand and walk for short periods of time.

“At first I could only wiggle my toes. Now I’m walking with a walker, the first time I was standing, tears fell on me, “Soria told Efe.

“I wake up every day wanting to get out of this chair. I need to get home dead tired, but have done something positive for rehabilitation, “he added.

Although he wants to become a professional boxer, he has talent as an instructor: “Sometimes I give a gymnastics routine for the little ones. I notice that they listen to me more than the teacher, they call me ‘teacher and it makes me very happy to be able to teach them ”, he commented.

Sometimes it is Romero himself who goes looking for those who need him most. Javier Castro, a computer teacher at a public school in the neighborhood, suffered four cerebrovascular accidents (CVA) and the doctors diagnosed him with Multiple Sclerosis and Huntington’s diseases.

Due to the strokes, he was immobilized in his bed. “From the moment that Jesus found out, he went to look for me at my house and tried to make me walk again,” Castro explained.

Despite the lack of balance, involuntary movements, and slits in speech, Romero’s training brought him out of prostration and restored his motor skills.

“During all this time I had many relapses, but I always have him to recover,” he said.

Through boxing, Jesus tries to give back to the neighborhood everything he received as a child. The neighbors always smile when they see him give classes.

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