Modesto’s Red Shield Boxing Club will host an amateur show Saturday at 2 p.m., with an expected lineup of about two dozen bouts, six of which will feature fighters from the Red Shield and Modesto Police Activities League clubs.
But more than that, today’s event will be a chance for fight fans to learn about and celebrate the life of a local boxing icon.
There will be a 10-count of the ringside bell to honor the late Sam LaCross, who passed away June 30 at the age of 85. Admission to the bouts is $15, and $5 for those under 4 and under.
LaCross, a dairyman by trade who later worked for a local bakery, trained aspiring fighters for nearly 40 years, working closely with Louie Jordan, who still is connected with the PAL program run out of the Maddux Youth Center.
“I knew Sam since I came out here in ’89,” said Jordan. “I’d worked with the Boys Club in Hayward for so long, and then I met Bill (Silva) and Sam and they invited me to join them. And we ran it ever since. We were like the Three Stooges.”
LaCross embarked on a professional boxing career in 1955, posting a 13-1-5 mark in the lightweight division, according to BoxRec.com, fighting all but one of his bouts in Northern California (his lone loss came in Los Angeles’ Olympic Auditorium). He retired after a year and a half and soon began training young fighters at the old Modesto Boxing Club, which was run out of various locations.
“When I started off boxing, I didn’t have that father figure because my parents had separated,” said Daniel Solorio, who was an amateur fighter under LaCross from 1983-91 and is now one of the coaches at Red Shield. “He was a role model, a mentor to me. He encouraged me a lot and inspired me a lot. He taught me to be humble and to be yourself.”
Jordan remembers his old partner as a steady presence.
“He was one of the calmest people I’ve ever known,” said Jordan. “He was such a nice man. I never saw him get angry with anyone. He was just a person I enjoyed being around. And he’d give you anything.”
Juan Barrera, now the head of Red Shield Boxing Club who, like Solorio, was an amateur fighter under LaCross, tries to teach his fighters what he learned from his mentor.
“It would be nice to have a champion, but we want to see kids grow and become champions in life,” said Barrera. “I learned that from Sam, and Louie: Give ’em a chance and watch them grow.”
Modesto Red Shield Boxing Club
Nate Sharp, 25, 185 pounds, vs. Rocky Gutierrez, 23, 175, Tulare
Jimmy Chavez, 16, 120, vs. Angel Ruiz, 15, 125, Visalia
Tina Marie Scott, 10, 75, vs. Jane Soto, 9, 71, Visalia
Modesto PAL Boxing Club
Ruben Wilson, 14, 90 pounds, vs. Enrique Noyla, 14, 90, Mendota
Alton Williams, 18, 152, vs. Jesus Rojas, 25, 154, Patterson
Dana Pineda, 8, 57, vs. Amber Galvan, 9, 55, Livingston
WHEN: 2 p.m, Saturday; doors open at 1 p.m.
WHERE: Modesto Red Shield Boxing Club, 1649 Las Vegas St., Modesto
TICKETS: $15; $5 for kids 4-under