MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — Ramon Montoya was 13 years old when he first walked into the MPD boxing gym, a place where the weight of the world is left at the door.
“You just forget about pretty much everything you have,” Montoya said. “You forget about it and you just focus on one thing and one thing only and that’s to maybe be a world champion one day.”
“I believe that this building specifically has helped a lot of kids. I’ve seen a lot of kids come and go and I’ve seen a lot of kids change their ways around.”
Montoya was one of those kids who’s life was changed, in that gym. It gave him a way out and Montoya reaped the rewards of his hard work rather quickly.
“I work and I train,” said Montoya. “And it’s kind of hard, but if you want something done, you’ll get it done. So, that belt means a lot to me because it was my first time traveling by myself, using money out of my own pocket, doing all of that as much as I could.”
The red and gold belt to the left of Montoya is also special to him. It’s his 2019 golden glove mid south title that he won in Jackson, TN.
The Golden Gloves tournament was established in Memphis in 1934 but left in 1969. This year, its back with the help of the City’s Director of Youth Services, Ike Griffith.
“Well, you know boxing teaches discipline and it’s so very important that was have that among our young people,” said Griffith. “You know we had a former mayor, Mayor Willie Herenton, was a Golden Glove boxer and it’s just a sport that will kind of challenge individuals to best individuals that they can be and that’s so very important in this day and time with our young people.”
That’s the same message Montoya preaches to kids in his community.
“I never try to force it on no one, but just letting them know this was my way out maybe it can be your way out, too,” Montoya said. “Everybody has different things that works different for them, maybe this will work for you, too.”
Now, after years of having to travel alone for tournaments, Montoya is getting the chance to compete for a regional title in his hometown in front of family and friends.
“They’ll be the first ones in line, hopefully.”
With the chance of watching Montoya advance to nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Golden Gloves Mid-South regional tournament starts Friday July 9 at 6 p.m. at the Hickory Hill Community Center.