Local trainer offers paths for champions, youth
By Wesley Gardner
When Pete Arciniega first opened up a small boxing training operation in his garage 17 years ago, he had no clue it would grow into the expansive operation it’s grown today. He had no clue he would train multiple national champions. He had no clue he’d help steer so many local youth members toward a better path in life.
Yet, here he is now. He has a 3,000 square-facility filled with various boxing training tools – heavy bags, speed bags, timing bags. The facility has a boxing ring and even features an outdoor obstacle course that would give Rocky a run for his money.
More than anything though, Arciniega has a space to offer kids a place to go to help keep them from getting into trouble.
For Arciniega, boxing has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember.
“I’ve been at it since I was a kid,” said Arciniega. “A lot of my family members were boxers, so it kind of ran in the family.
“For me, it’s always been about the competition side of it. It’s just mano y mano. It was, ‘Hey, I don’t think you can beat me,’ and that was kind of it. It starts with your cousins and neighborhood friends, and before you know it, you’ve got the gloves on and that’s kind of how it went.”
Arciniega carried his love for boxing into his time with the United States Marine Corps., both boxing for the marine’s team and eventually coaching it.
Following his stent with the Marines, he decided to use his passion to help out in his neighborhood. He started a small gym in his garage, and initially only had a single student.
“We had one bag right in the middle of the garage,” said Arciniega. I would have [the students] do all their exercises in the driveway. All the technical work was done on the bag and on the hand pads.”
Arciniega may have started with a single student, but within a week, he already had 12 additional students. He knew he was onto something, and he knew he’d need more space to keep up with the growing demand.
He eventually moved the operation from his garage to an 800-square-foot space, then a 1,400-square-foot space and eventually the 3,000 square-foot establishment he trains out of now on San Antonio Street.
Arciniega may love boxing, but if there’s anything that’s kept him in the business, it’s the ability to help kids. As a minister, he said it’s probably the most important thing he can do.
“We get kids from all walks.” Said Arciniega. “They don’t all come in because they want to box. “Some of them come in because they’re being bullied. Some of their parents bring them in because they are bullies and they want to straighten them out. They bring them in here sometimes because they’re down, they’re depressed. Part of this gym is we’re an outreach center, a ministry center. For me it’s a privilege to work with a youngster that maybe needs direction.”
That’s not to say the boxing aspect isn’t important too, of course. Arciniega has trained some serious fighters, including two national champions. Trey Romero, his current top student, has reached to pinnacle of the national scene at the age of 31. He currently holds the American Boxing Federation’s welterweight title and is waiting for a title unification bout.
Either way, Arciniega said everyone who comes into his gym is treated equally.
“Everything we teach here, we try to teach by the number,” said Arciniega. “I explain everything very thoroughly because I have to.
“We train everybody like a fighter. If he’s six years old, it’s, ‘Come on, man. Let’s go.’ If she’s a sixty-year-old lady, it’s, ‘Come on, let’s go.’ I’ve never had anyone throughout the years say, ‘Hey, this is too much for me.’”
Arciniega said one of the greatest joys he takes in watching a student grow is seeing the confidence that comes along with their training. Still, when asked whether he’d rather see his students succeed as a fighter, or just in life, his answer was concrete.
“That’s really the goal here,” said Arciniega. “I’m a boxing coach through and through, but if you were to tell me do I want a world champion or do I want to world champion kid, who’s going to turn out to be a good son, a good student, a good father, a good brother – I’ll take that all day long.”