Vail Valley’s Mean Streets boxers earn state Golden Gloves titles
EAGLE — Boxing is like life. You try not to get hit but sometimes you do. You’re going to get smacked around a little. And in addition to your opponent, you’re also fighting yourself.
“It’s the ability to keep fighting when you’re down, to get up when you’re down,” Mike Pisciotta said.
Pisciotta has been teaching these lessons through boxing for three decades. His latest charges are the young men he trains at Mean Streets Boxing Club in Eagle
“We took five brand new kids to the state Golden Gloves tournament and brought back three champions. We’re onto something here,” he said.
Pisciotta preaches safety first, which is the No. 1 priority of any contact sport.
There are lots of ways to win fights. Primary among them is to keep from getting hit.
Local golden boys
David Muruato of Gypsum won his championship bout in the 8-9-year-old, 85-pound division. Muruato scored four standing eight counts and two knockdowns during the championship bout against Noel Diaz. The referee stopped the bout in the second round.
Jaime Chavira Jr. of Gypsum won the 12-13-year-old, 101-pound division.
Robert Castillo won the 123-pound novice division.
Castillo, 23, was born and raised in the valley and graduated Eagle Valley High School. He lived behind the school and always had boxing gloves around the house. School starts later on Wednesdays, so Castillo and his friends would pass the extra hour boxing.
“We thought we knew how to box, but we didn’t,” he said. “We didn’t know how to throw a punch, or take a punch. Coach does a good job preparing us and keeping us focused.”
Muruato, 8, is energetic and animated most of the time, and especially when he hits something, whether it’s a speed bag or a sparring partner. The Eagle Valley Elementary School student’s smile could light the night when he talks about winning his Golden Gloves title and the trophy he earned.
He was in trouble for a few seconds, on the ropes in the second round. Some aggressive action got him out of it.
“I started going super fast on him and he backed away,” Muruato said.
Take action when it’s called for: Yet another life lesson, Pisciotta says smiling.
Chavira, 12, plays soccer and wrestles at Gypsum Creek Middle School. Chavira said it helps that Pisciotta has them on the same roadwork schedule as the 1988 Olympic boxing team.
They’re in the Mean Streets gym twice a week. In between they’re running, swimming and eating right.
Edgar Morales, 20, remembers nerves and excitement when he stepped into the ring.
“Once you get in the ring it all goes away,” Morales said.
Morales fought valiantly, but lost a split decision. Like all split decisions, from the Supreme Court to a panel of Golden Gloves boxing judges, this one was a matter of interpretation.
“It can happen,” he said.
Boxing teaches all kinds of life lessons, Morales said.
“You learn perseverance. No matter what’s happening you still have to throw your punches. You have to try, even if you miss. A missed punch is better than no punch at all,” Morales said.
Francisco Gomez, 24, was excited but pragmatic for his Golden Gloves bout.
“It’s not that complicated. Don’t get hit and hit him harder,” Gomez said smiling.
His fight was stopped in the third round after he injured his left arm in the second, while hammering away at his opponent. In his corner between the second and third rounds he and Pisciotta talked about stopping the fight. Gomez was having none of it. He answered the bell for the third round, but the referee decided that Gomez’ injured arm was not allowing him to protect himself adequately.
Gomez said he’ll be back in the ring soon.
“I like it and I’m going to keep getting better,” he said.
Why Mean Streets
The Mean Streets Boxing Club is so named because the goal is to keep kids off the mean streets, Pisciotta said.
“If they’re in the gym they’re not out on the street. That’s a good start,” Pisciotta said. “We point them in another direction, toward something positive.”
Pisciotta stresses education, because you’re going to need one. In the long run, education will be more important than an uppercut.
Pisciotta started with the program in 1990 in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he was working in a penitentiary. He saw all kinds of inmates who needed someone to give them either a gentle nudge or a swift swat — whatever was called for — in the right direction.
These days Pisciotta works in Colorado’s court system, based out of the Fifth Judicial District in Eagle.
Pisciotta’s boxers are unfailingly polite. They shake hands firmly and smile as they look you in the eye when they’re introduced. They’re also all business when they strap on the gear and get to work.
They’re also all novices, 10 bouts or less.
“I’m cautious with my kids. I don’t need to put a kid in the ring to show how tough they are,” Pisciotta said.
Pisciotta’s boxing roots run to his early teens. He grew up in Pueblo and his dad took him to a couple gyms when he was around 13. The family migrated to Denver and he trained with Ron Lyle, one of Muhammad Ali’s opponents. He won a Nebraska state title and turned pro for 10 fights. He was knocked out in his 10th and final professional fight, and decided he prefers coaching.
About Mean Streets Boxing
Eagle’s Mean Streets Boxing Club trains Tuesdays and Thursdays 5:30-7:30 p.m. For information contact Mike Pisciotta at 605-639-9678.
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