BRAWLEY — Local partial business owner of Johnny’s Burritos in Imperial, Ruby Palomino, donated a portion of her sales on the day of the Andy Ruiz parade to two local nonprofit organizations, La Gente Boxing in Brawley and Sparta Boxing in El Centro.
“I selected Sparta Boxing because I believe Andy trained there at some point and, of course, La Gente because we are from Brawley and started in Brawley,” said Palomino. “My little brother and I even did a little boxing ourselves there when we were younger.”
Palomino’s grandfather opened Johnny’s Burritos in Brawley in 1963.
One Sunday a month, Palomino selects a nonprofit organization to which she donates a portion of the day’s sales.
“I felt the parade would be a perfect opportunity to give a portion of our sales to the local gyms in honor of Andy Ruiz,” said Palomino.
A total of $1,000 was raised and split equally between La Gente Boxing and Sparta Boxing.
“Since we’re a small town, it’s all about giving back to the community,” said Palomino. “We gotta’ make sure that these small nonprofits keep going because they are our youth and we want to continue to help and see them succeed, so it’s important for us to keep giving back.”
According to staff at the gyms, the money will go toward new equipment.
“The kids were excited because they’ve been wanting new gloves and headgear," said La Gente Boxing Trainer Luis Aguilar. “The kids may be fighting now for the new gloves.”
The remaining funds, if any, will be used for travel.
“When we do get donations, it’s usually from local business owners like Johnny’s, because I can tell you that from all the franchises we’ve reached out to, we haven’t even received a response from them and they make a killing off of all us of here," said boxing program coach and Sheriff Deputy Ralph Espinosa. “That’s why we to try to support our local business because, in my experience, McDonalds, Jack in the Box, and places like that never even reply, so that’s why we really appreciate someone like Ruby donating.”
According to La Gente Boxing staff, they’ve proven that once kids come and box for whatever reason, their grades pick up.
“Some kids have come in with poor grades and end up making honor roll," said Espinosa. “It’s the discipline that we focus on — if you have discipline you can set a goal and with it, accomplish any goal. So that’s why we push discipline so much. The victories, title, and championships will all come later once the discipline is there.”
Due to the lack of variety in the Valley, oftentimes fighters need to leave to face different and stronger competition elsewhere.
“Hotels, gas, and food get pricey, so donations like these make it possible to fight out of the Valley,” Aguilar. “In big cities, kids get more of a variety of competition and kids travel to them. Here in the Valley, competition isn’t as abundant and we have to travel to them.”
If anyone would like to donate to the club, La Gente would greatly appreciate it. To sponsor boxing shoes or shorts, or for any donations, just contact La Gente boxing through Facebook.