Curundu is a red zone in Panama City, Panama; meaning it’s a dangerous place. If you’re looking for trouble, go to Curundu and you’re surely going to find it. The place is plagued with violent gangs, drugs, prostitution, intermarriage violence and a whole lot more. It’s in this precarious neighborhood where the Pedro “Rockero” Alcázar’s boxing gym is located.
I was apprehensive when I finally decided to visit this gym to take my shots. I took my nephew with me to protect my back—just in case. Fortunately everything went fine and I got my snaps and everybody there were very friendly and showed great interest in explaining the different aspects of boxing. I’m grateful for that.
Most pundits will agree that the following boxers were the greatest of them all:
- Manny Pacquiao
- Muhammad Ali
- Mike Tyson
- Rocky Marciano
- Julio César Chávez
- Sugar Ray Robinson
- Roy Jones Jr.
- Joe Louis
- Félix Trindad
- Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Being a Panamanian I would add Roberto “Mano de Piedra” to the list. He has every right to be there after all he did for the sport of boxing.
Many of these athletes came from the ghetto. They had everything against them; dangerous neighborhoods, lack of proper training, inadequate training installations, no formal education, split families, drug consumption, time in jail, and inadequate nutritional diets, just to name a few. However, they raised above all these obstacles and became world champions.
While I was at the gym, I saw a young man come to the venue with a small bag in his hands. He said “Good morning” and started his training. Alone; all by himself. One drill after the other, until his body was completely covered with sweat. He had no fat in his body. His movements were swift and coordinated. He displaced like a feline with swift graceful motions. He reminded me of Muhammad Ali—“The Greatest!”
Ali had a big mouth and fought tough over the radio and television and inside the ring. He coined the phrase, “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” This young boxer at the gym followed that same boxing style. Panamanian boxing style is known for using this fighting strategy; jabbing constantly and moving swiftly through the ring. In Spanish we say, “Poi, poi y no estoy”.
I approached this young man and requested his permission to take several pictures while he trained. He said, “No problem.” His name is Jordan González. He is an amateur boxer preparing for his next fight, sometime in July. I recall he told me he had fought sixteen fights and wanted to escalate to become a professional boxer. I could see in his eyes, there was “fire in the belly.” He comes from the ghetto and knows what it is to overcome the obstacles. I hope he make it big following the steps of Ismael Laguna, Hilario Zapata, Ernesto “Ñato” Marcel, Enrique “Maravilla” Pinder, and Roberto “Mano de Piedra” Durán. All came from the obscurity of the urban ghetto.
Below are several pictures of Jordan González preparing for his next fight. Take a good look, maybe you will recognize him on television at the Madison Square Garden fighting for a world championship. Here we go.
Snapshot of amateur boxer Jordan González, posing for the camera at the Pedro "Rockero" Alcázar's gym in the neighborhood of Curundu in Panama City, Panama. Photo ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of Jordan González, showing the camera the face of a winner. Photo ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of a young boxer from the neighborhood of Curundu. Notice that there isn't an ounce of fat in his lean and athletic body. Photo ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of Jordan Gonzalez's fist covered with soft cotton bandages to protect the hand. This is the fist that acts like a rock on the ring during boxing matches. Photo ©Omar Upegui R.
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