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Victorville club caters to at-risk youth

For nearly 20 years, the High Desert Boxing Club in Victorville has taken kids and trained them in the art of boxing, sending some up to the professional ranks and providing an athletic outlet for kids all over the High Desert.

Thousands of fighters have come through the club over the years, and head trainer Javier Castro estimates he currently has 65 youths that he is training, some of which have earned national awards and recognition.

The club caters especially to underprivileged youths who otherwise might be at risk to fall into gangs or other negative activities.

“We have a lot of kids and I don’t want to send them to the streets,” Castro said. “There’s a lot of good kids.”

Anthony Ayala, a 20-year-old award-winning boxer, said the club means everything to him and spoke of how it has helped him and many others stay out of trouble.

“Coach Javier, I see him like a father figure. All of these fighters here at this gym, they’re friends," Ayala said. "They say boxing is a one-on-one sport but this is definitely a team sport with my teammates.”

The club has run into some financial trouble recently and is looking for new ownership. Otherwise the club might close. Ayala said he fears what would happen to some of the fighters if it did close.

“A lot of the kids here show a lot of talent and if they keep training hard they become better people, and if this gym closes it’s real easy for them to get lazy and say I don’t want to box, and they’ll get into trouble and that’s the last thing we want,” he said. “The last thing we want is people we care about in jail or dead, and in these times that’s real common and real easy to happen.”

For now, the club remains open.

View more photos from Monday's "Boxers Only" photo essay by clicking here.

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