The Basement Banger
By Richard E. Baker on October 13, 2020
Wanting a thing and obtaining it are often two different things. (Photo: Richard E. Baker)
“I was almost a three-to-one underdog in my last fight against Olympian Luis Aaron,” said Abraham Martinez. “I thought people must think he is going to kill me.”
Martinez breaks into a loud laugh. He laughs easily and frequently. Little seems to bother him and he is a man with seemingly few concerns. His world does not exist outside of boxing, or, if it does, he keeps that world to himself. His eyes glow like lighthouse beacons when boxing is mentioned.
Martinez had nothing to fear from Aaron and dropped him early. Although a close fight and competitive fight, Martinez appeared to be ahead when, just seconds before the final bell, Aaron put him down. Martinez’s corner had advised him to box cautiously, to coast because he was ahead, during the last two rounds. He should have been going all out. So much for advice from some corners. Know thyself. A fighter should fight. Go out on your shield or stay home. There is no other way to become a champion. The cautiousness, coasting, and the knockdown earned him a draw rather than a win.
Always wanting to be a boxer is common among boxers, a hidden desire to step into the ring with an opponent and beat him into submission, not out of hate or animosity, but through skill and courage. Martinez can never remember when he did not have that feeling. He has always wanted to be a boxer. Wanting a thing and obtaining it are often two different things. Want requires nothing more than thinking. Obtaining requires work, often a great deal of work, an insatiable desire to be the best at something, to walk tall, hold one’s head up high and say “I am someone, someone special, my own man, a man who has made his way in the world with some, but little, help from others.”
The parents of Martinez were not happy with his desires. When his mother understood he was serious, she bought various training equipment and placed it in the basement. Martinez, who said, “I was afraid of everything, cars, people, going outside, you name it, everything except fighting,” started on his career. He was 10 years old, a decent age to start boxing.
He eventually found his way into a gym and started on an up-and-down amateur career. Martinez claims to be a religious man and felt confused by God. “Did he want me to fight, or not? If he did why couldn’t I keep winning?”
He won enough fights to qualify for the last spot at the Junior Olympics. Before the fights he had a falling out with his coach. His coach dumped him. He felt betrayed, but still went to the Olympics. As last seed he was slated to fight the number one seed. He surprised everybody by knocking him down. The knockdown was not enough to give him the win, but was enough to get him some recognition.
He wandered from gym to gym working out and learning what he could. One of his biggest teachers was YouTube. “I watched everything I could about boxing on YouTube. I watched the footwork, the various blows, the movements, how to move in and to move out.” He finally started training with Steve Jones. Jones claimed to be a former sparring partner for Muhammad Ali. Martinez started to learn some valuable techniques. One day, when he showed up at the gym, Jones was gone. “He just disappeared. No one knew what happened to him. Again I felt betrayed.”
Martinez returned to the basement and trained himself for the next five years. He found his own amateur fights by going to other gyms and asked to be put on cards. He was going nowhere. One of his high school teachers saw that and talked to him about his future. “He pulled out his wallet and showed me a picture of his attractive wife. He said to look at the picture and said no boxer could get a woman that pretty. A person needs a college education.” Apparently the teacher had never seen the women that hang around with boxers or he would have started training that day. Martinez enrolled in college.
He enjoyed the school work. Still, he could not get boxing out of his head. One evening he lay in the grass and started watching the stars. Again he made a person-to-person call to God asking what to do. He said he wanted to box, but he needed God’s help. A shooting star flashed across the blackness. “It was a sign. I left college sold everything I had, and moved to Los Angeles. I would stay in boxing and I would become a champion.”
With a record of 8-0-1 he is on the right track. So far he has proven to be an exciting fighter, a real crowd pleaser. He needs to know that courage is the understanding of what is and is not to be feared. A boxer should never be afraid to win. Coasting only works when you are going downhill.