Special Report: Boxing Boost

Kids are choosing to punch over problems, with the help of a world class coach at St. Pugilist Gym
Special Report: Boxing Boost
Updated: Mar. 20, 2019 at 5:14 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - A new boxing gym off N. First Avenue is giving kids a chance to learn how to fight in the ring and in life.

Texas native Hugo Giovanny moved to Evansville straight from Los Angeles a couple of years ago.

He co-owns the gym along with local trainer Brant Flores. The pair soon brought in another local trainer David Vowels.

Giovanny has an impressive resume. He’s trained celebrities like Chris Hemsworth and Hugh Jackman. He has also worked with Boxing World Champs like Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.

Coach Hugo didn’t have to live in Indiana, but he’s staying put for the chance to make an impact.

“It’s a dangerous sport, but you’ve gotta learn from it. You’ve gotta learn from your mistakes," said boxer Sayani Merida. “It teaches you confidence, gives you self-esteem and respect.”

Every week Coach Hugo works with talented kids like Sayani and dozens of others who walk through their door.

“Whatever negativity brings, you can fix anything here. You can cure anything here," Giovanny said.

14-year-old Apbolina Guzman just had her first fight last month.

“I feel like I could up my game and get better," she said.

Working with the trainers has given her a surge in confidence.

“It teaches me to never give up," she said. "To keep working hard. It’s just really something that’s really good.”

“Apbolina is hardworking, very intelligent," Giovanny said. "She takes care of her siblings.”

Apbolina is the oldest of five.

"I have two brothers and two sisters."

Life at home for the teenager is crowded and complicated.

Apbolina’s story is just one that is evolving through every bout in Coach Hugo’s ring.

Giovanny said he picks the teen and her younger siblings up from their house after school and brings them to practice. He’s opted to give them lessons for free after learning more about the family.

“If I need to pick them up, I’ll pick them up,” Giovanny said. “I’ll give them food, or if they’re in need of any kind of assistance, I’ll help out financially. During the winter they needed space heaters. I did what I could for them.”

“I love how it makes you feel after you accomplish it in the end. It’s a good feeling," Apbolina said.

For the trainers, that sentiment has no dollar amount.

“Everyday I get to change a life," Giovanny added. "Everyday I get to touch someone and help them realize their potential.”

What I want them to learn is that they can do anything," he said. “I mean, their wildest dreams can come true.”

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