After talking with pro boxer Chris Arreola, you get the impression he knows more about San Diego than most San Diegans.
On Friday, April 18, the heavyweight contender’s wife Erin and daughter Danae made the 100 mile trek from Riverside, CA to San Diego to visit their head of household to enjoy some local sightseeing with him. This was their third visit and up to this point, they had already covered La Jolla and it’s cove, Pacific Beach, Mt. Soledad, Downtown, Del Mar and were soliciting suggestions for this weekend.
Arreola, who is in training for the most important fight of his professional career, has a rematch scheduled against the Haitian Bermane “B. Ware” Stiverne, a gentleman who is originally from Haiti and now resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In their last fight, back on April 27, 2013, Stiverne broke Arreola’s nose at the close of round three. On May 10th, they will battle it out again, this time at the Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles for the WBC World Heavyweight Championship, a title that was vacated by the 42 year-old Vitali Klitschko back in December, 2013.
Both Vitali and his younger brother Wladimir Klitschko have been caught up in that Russia versus Ukraine gut wrenching, land grabbing, power struggle. On Monday, April 21, it was reported the Russian state-owned media group VGTRK had declined to purchase the broadcasting rights for the Saturday, April 26th match between the Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko (61-3-0, 51 KOs) and the Australian Alex Leapai (30-4-3, 24 KOs).
Leapai’s only claim to fame is his unanimous decision victory over the Russian Denis Boytsov on November 23, 2013.
The Rossiya-2 Sports Channel, which is owned by VGTRK, has always broadcast the Klitschko fights. After Wladimir Klitschko heard the news, he wrote on his Twitter account: “I’m sorry for Russian boxing fans who will not see the fight scheduled for this Saturday, April 26 in Germany’s Oberhausen.”
Sorry? He's sorry because it’s going to cost him and his promoter a ton of money.
Wladimir Klitschko is the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO World Heavyweight Champion and his older brother, Vitali, who left boxing in December to become one of the opposition leaders of the so-called Euromaidan Protest Movement in the Ukraine, has been working behind the scenes in support of the military coup and ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych. Vitali recently announced that he will be running for mayor of Kiev.
That earlier Arreola versus Stiverne bout of April 27, 2013 ended up being a 12 round unanimous decision victory for Stiverne. After Arreola controlled both the first and second rounds, Stiverne landed this tremendous overhand right only seconds before the bell sounded to end round three. The big punch not only broke Arreola's nose, it sent him to the canvas. From that point on, Arreola was not only distracted by the pain but had trouble breathing. Stiverne became relaxed, in control, as he used his stiff jab to set up the one, two combinations.
Getting back to the Arreola weekend of sightseeing. On Saturday, April 19, they went to the 44th annual Chicano Park Day celebration. This year's theme was "La Tierra Es De Quien La Trabaja: The Land Belongs To Those Who Work It."
Attendees experienced traditional music and dance, including one of the most beautiful performances of Aztec Indigenous dance, coordinated by Danza Azteca Calpulli Mexihca. Other dance groups included ballet folklorico troupes, Ballet Folklorico Tierra, Flor y Canto and Ballet Folklorico Azquetzalli plus Danza Zapateado rebelde by Mujeres en Resistencia.
Live bands that performed included Chocolate Revolution, Sumatra, Big Quarters, Ruby Clouds, Trigger Nasty, Mariachi Imperial de San Diego, 2MX2, Project Unknown (Logan Teen Music Program), Back N Time, Cumbia Machin, Radio La Chusma and Sure Fire Soul Ensemble.
In addition, there were the classic lowrider cars organized by the Amigos Car Club plus food, arts and crafts vendors selling their specialties.
As a bit of history:
In the early 1960s, the construction of I-5 further intruded on this relatively small community and severed Barrio Logan from Logan Heights. By 1969, the newly built Coronado Bay Bridge once again bisected the barrio. An estimated 1,500 families were displaced by the bridge and by industrial rezoning.
While San Diego is often criticized for not really having neighborhoods, it’s not the case in Barrio Logan/Logan Heights where the residents have always found a way to hang together and battle against the developers who want to further carve up their area for some selfish reason.
On the walls and pillars in Chicano Park, you can see the artwork of a great many artists who have helped the locals battle for their rights against the oppressors who would disrupt their community. As a whole, the people in Barrio Logan/Logan Heights have an endearing bias towards anything that’s Mexican. For that reason you can be certain that all Mexican Americans will be pulling for Arreola to become the first World Heavyweight Champion of Mexican descent.
While attending this event, Arreola got to meet Rachel Ortiz, the Executive Director of the nearby Barrio Station Recreation Center with it’s well respected boxing program. Ms. Ortiz invited Arreola and his troupe to stop by their facility.
At the appointed time, 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23rd, after another grueling workout, the group from Riverside pulled into the Barrio Station parking area at precisely 10 minutes to five. As you can imagine, the youngsters and many adults went bonkers when they saw their hero come through the door. Out came the black felt pens and souvenir gloves for autographs.
Arreola was like that big brother you always wished for. He went from one parent or one youngster to the next answering questions, joking around and having photos taken. It was a Chris Arreola love fest.