Serving the community since 1922

Local boxer captures eighth national title

A young boxer from the Shafter Boxing Club took home his eighth national title recently while in Independence, Missouri.

"Fast Eddie" Rodriguez came back to Shafter with his eighth championship belt, making him the winningest boxer from the club in its history. Rodriguez competed in the 15/16 year old, 101 lbs. division in the Silver Gloves National tournament.

Rodriguez has won his weight division at the tournament every year except two since the Shafter Boxing Club has been competing in the tournament.

The Silver Gloves tournament has district, state and regional competitions in the United States, with each winner advancing to the national tournament held in Independence.

Rodriguez stopped his first opponent in the tournament, advancing to the next round. He then fought every day of the tournament, making it to the final match, where he dominated his opponent, giving him his record eighth title.

With the national boxing world being filled with big clubs, such as Los Angeles, New York, and Texas, and other cities with numerous clubs with thousands of members, this small boxing club from Shafter has made the nation take notice of them as they annually have title contenders, taking multiple titles in most years.

"When we first started, nobody knew where Shafter was. They looked at you like you were an alien, but now our name is known, as well as our teams, with everyone knowing who the Shafter kids are," said founder Mike Ayon.

Ayon and his staff of volunteers have been training champions for over a decade now.

Ayon said that he is so proud of his kids, who have continued to put the small city of Shafter on the boxing map.

The Shafter Boxing Club started out in Ayon's yard and garage, training the kids to keep them off the street and giving them something to do to keep fit.

"For a small town, our club has done a great job in representing Shafter and giving the boxing world an idea of what we can do," said Ayon. "We started out small and through the years, we have had many champions and we love the way our community has supported us along the way, helping our kids reach their dreams."

The club moved a few years ago to a training facility on Lerdo Highway, thanks in part to support from the community and a big push from Assembly member Rudy Salas, who was on hand with the Shafter Press to witness the transformation of the old warehouse into a gym that the kids could call home.

The locals were training five days a week for the competition and Ayon said, "All of the hard work that the kids have put in really paid off."

"The kids have really built a reputation for themselves in a great way and we can't sneak under the radar anymore, with everybody knowing about the boxers from a small town in California. Shafter isn't just a little dot on the map anymore," added Ayon.


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