Sunday, May 20, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 11

Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead

The following article was posted on November 8th, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 35 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 13, Issue 35

A new 'fight club'

A local gym offers the best of all fighting worlds


As one of the world’s oldest and most celebrated sports, boxing is popular among people of all walks of life. In the 21st century, the sport’s discipline and intensity draw large crowds at both the professional and amateur levels.

Ring leaders:
Professional fighter Ruffino Serrano and boxer Francisco “Pancho” Guitterez work on offensive techniques in the ring.

Boxing’s popularity continues to grow even here on the Central Coast, with a number of boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) gyms springing up locally. Central Coast Boxing recently threw its hat in the ring as one of the premiere places to train as a boxer, MMA fighter, or plain ol’ athlete.

The organization was originally based out of the Santa Maria Athletic Club, offering boxing classes through the gym. But when Central Coast Boxing club owner and trainer Carlos Ruiz showed up to a closed-down gym during August of this year, he knew it was time for the club to begin a new chapter.

That story started this year when the club opened its own shop in Santa Maria. Tucked between two industrial businesses on Bradley Road, the Central Coast Boxing club is slowly becoming a mecca for MMA, boxing, and athletic training.

“CC Boxing is composed of a group of boxers that are based out of Santa Maria and are united by love for the sport of boxing,” Ruiz said.

In the sudden absence of the Santa Maria Athletic Club, Ruiz, professional boxer Ruffino Serrano, and Don DeNoyer—a former MMA fighter who also trained fighters at the gym—were left with dedicated fighters and nowhere to work out.

Not wanting to abandon their clients, the three decided to open their own gym. Central Coast Boxing, Tiger’s Way MMA, and Central Coast Elite, founded by the legendary Ty Lee, bought the space near Allan Hancock College.

“We offer everything you could think of,” DeNoyer said. “We offer the best of all three worlds.”

Ruiz said that between all the trainers, there are 61 years of combined experience. The elite training has managed to turn out two professional boxers: 21-year-old Eric Prado; and Ruffino Serrano, who holds the current Central Coast featherweight title.

Ruiz, who’s been training Serrano since he was in his teens, said Serrano has a very high work ethic and trains three to four hours a day. Serrano will soon be coming up on his first fight to defend his featherweight title.

The lanky youth with a wide reach remembers watching fights with his dad as a kid. He said he can feel a difference training at this new gym.

“I want to be here more,” Serrano said. “There are more people to motivate you to be better.”

The gym itself, decked out in vibrant red and blue, adds to the energy in the atmosphere. The space is efficient, clean, and provides training for athletes in all areas. Ruiz said that, thanks to hard work from the fighters and parents, they were able to put the gym together in just three weeks.

Complete with ellipticals, treadmills, StairMasters, and weights, the gym also provides a dozen punching bags and an $11,000 boxing ring.

“The money for the ring was fundraised by the fighters and parents through car washes,” Ruiz said. “It took a lot of hard work.”

He also wanted to note the $4,000 donation made to the gym by the Chumash Casino.

The gym is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, offering classes every night, where Ruiz said fighters can get the one-on-one attention they need from trainers.

Boxing workouts are changed daily and consist of three-minute rounds with 30 seconds of rest. The workouts target arms, legs, and chests. Fighters will also work on defense, offense, punching, and learning how to “walk” in the ring.

“Like any sport, you have to have natural talent, speed, and power,” Ruiz said. “But you have to mold and polish the diamond.”

What once started with just six fighters and a shared gym space has now become an elite gym with 46 fighters and a host of knowledgeable and experienced trainers. Ruiz said the club works with fighters ages 6 to 34 who come from as far away as Los Angeles and Paso Robles.

Despite the competitive nature of the sport, Ruiz and the other trainers like the fighters to train in groups.

“They aren’t just fighters; everyone is working together,” Ruiz said. “Everyone here is family.”

Central Coast Elite, run through the club and headed by Lee, has worked with numerous local athletes who have gone on to play at prestigious universities. Lee has also been working with Hancock’s top player, Cameron Artis-Payne.

But more than anything, Ruiz said, the main goal of the club is to get youth off of the streets. In a community with a host of gang-related issues, it’s important for youth to be involved in something positive.

The club frequently sponsors youth boxers who might not be able to afford gym fees—but it’s better than them running wild, Ruiz said.

Ruiz, an active member of the Santa Maria Police Activities League, remembers when he first met boxing legend Willie Flores.

“I met Willie when I was 16, and he took my life in a different direction,” he recalled.

Flores, former boxer and owner of the Santa Maria Boxing Club, opened the door to the boxing world for Ruiz, whose experience with Flores is also part of what inspired him to branch out and continue opening doors for local youth through boxing.

Ruiz said one of the many benefits of boxing is the intense training and conditioning that teaches youth discipline and humility while working side by side with positive role models.

Alvaro Lopez, a trainer at the club, has been working with youth boxers since he was 18, spending the last 12 years training in Santa Maria. Lopez, whose father was a professional fighter, said boxing pushes at-risk youth to do better in school.

“By the time they’re done working out, they go home, do their homework, and go to bed,” Lopez said. “They’re too tired to be running around the streets.”

Ernie Romero, a local amateur boxer for 10 years, just started coaching his brother, Manuel Romero. Ernie recalls how boxing gave him new opportunities.

“It’s something positive that keeps me going, something I didn’t have growing up,” Romero said.

While boxing has a bounty of benefits, Ruiz said the sport demands a lot from both the fighter and the family because it’s very time consuming. A member of the boxing community for more than 20 years, Ruiz still loves the rush of training an individual and giving him the skills he needs to succeed.

“Boxing gives them something to work towards,” Ruiz said. “Once the bell rings, it’s just you and the opponent. It’s up to you to perform.” ∆

Contact Staff Writer Kristina Sewell finds it difficult to type with gloves on. Contact her at

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