San Bernardino is more than just shootings and poverty, explained Project Fighting Chance Founder Ian Franklin.
“We’re also good athletes,” the 53-year-old boxing trainer continued.
Franklin’s boxers–Kenny “Killa Kenny” Lobatoz, 10, Charles “Lolo” Harris, 13, and Terry Washington, 13–will be competing in the USA Boxing Junior Olympics in Charleston, West Virginia from June 27 to July 1 for a chance of becoming national champions.
“We’re taking the San Bernardino Strong movement across the country,” Franklin said. “We’re trying to represent our city in a positive way.”
However, Franklin admits the organization’s resources are scarce. The Project Fighting Chance gym is looking to raise $8,000 by June 19 to register their three boxers in the Junior Olympics. They’ve established a go fund me campaign to raise money and are seeking sponsorships.
“My biggest challenge is always trying to get these kids to national tournaments,” Franklin said. “When you get ranked, you have to be everywhere. It’s hard. But we as a community can band together to get behind these kids.”
Lobatoz, Harris, and Washington won their respective divisions–organized by age and weight–at last month’s USA Boxing Greater Western Junior Olympics tournament in Indio to qualify for the national tournament.
Washington, who Franklin nicknamed “Terrible Terry” for his natural boxing ability, boasts a 25-1 record. One of his recent victories came against an athlete from the prestigious Mayweather Gym in Nevada, Franklin said.
“He’s been phenomenal,” Franklin said of Washington’s talent. “He’s the best at his age that I’ve ever seen. The stage is never bright for the kid.”
Harris and Lobatoz are contenders in their own right. Harris defeated last year’s national 13-14 year old (110 lb) champion en route to qualifying for the national tourney. Lobatoz placed second at the National Silver Gloves tournament in February.
“We’re going with three guys that can possibly come back with straps (championship belts),” Franklin declared. “Lolo is like a little [Muhammad] Ali. Kenny has experienced a national tournament before. They’re all going to be hard to beat.”
“Terrible Terry” attributes his success to Franklin’s training. The Del Vallejo Middle School student said it’s helped him, “become physically and mentally stronger.”
“I’ve learned to become a champion and a better person,” Washington said.
There is credence in the principles of desire, dedication, determination and discipline, which Franklin believes has instilled accountability and self esteem in the young boxers.
“One day some of these kids may be coming out of the tunnel on HBO,” Franklin expressed with a glare of confidence. “It’s important for us to get behind their positive growth.”