Boxers Put Gloves Dreams on Hold

They’re fighting more aggressively these days
Juan Mancilla, at left, recently spent a month training in Juan Manuel Marquez’s gym in Mexico City. His sparring partner, and younger brother, Luis, is at right. Jack Graves

    The Mancilla brothers, Juan, 23, and Luis, 21, as well as Richie Daunt, 23, were to have represented East Hampton — more specifically Springs in the Mancillas’ case, and Montauk in Daunt’s — in this year’s Daily News Golden Gloves tournament, which  is now under way, though, for various reasons, all three had pulled out as of earlier this week.

    Daunt and Juan Mancilla were rendered hors de combat by injuries, and Luis Mancilla, who had planned to fight in the 132-pound open class this month, said Monday the death of a close friend in a car accident in Florida over the weekend had caused him to alter his plans.

    He and his brother, however, will continue their boxing careers, he added, Golden Gloves or no.

    During a recent conversation at the Mancillas’ house in Springs, Luis Mancilla said this year would have been his third Golden Gloves appearance. “I didn’t fight last year,” he said, “because I was busy with my studies at Suffolk Community.”

    Luis reached the novice finals in 2011 and the open quarterfinals in 2012. “That was a tough bout,” he said. “I was up against a well-known fighter, Titus Williams — the best I’ve fought — but I stayed with him. He’s a great fighter, out of Freeport.”

    Juan, who was looking a bit glum when he descended the stairs, said he had to withdraw from the 152-pound division because of a bruised or dislocated jaw injured during a recent sparring session.

    Asked if he shouldn’t see a doctor, the Devon Yacht Club lifeguard smiled and said, “I don’t have health insurance — it will come along, it has before.”

    Juan Mancilla’s injury (Daunt is out with a badly injured thumb, resulting from his last fight, in December) had rendered moot “months of training,” which included a month spent at Juan Manuel Marquez’s gym in Mexico City.

    “Training at altitude would have increased his stamina — the open division rounds are three minutes,” Luis said.

    “And, in Mexico City,” where the family lived before moving here in 1995, “I incorporated the Mexican fighters’ aggressive way of fighting into my style,” said Juan.

    “Juan passed those techniques on to me too,” said Luis.

    “The Mexican fighters move straight forward, feint, slip in, and punch, punch, punch,” said Juan. “They don’t try to out-technique you. Before, I was more of a counterpuncher. Down there, with that style, I got one guy down and dropped another kid as well. . . . I had very high hopes for this year; I’ve been thinking about this tournament for a long time.”

    Both brothers, who began their amateur careers with T.K.O.s on the same night at the Heavy Hitters gym in Bohemia in 2008, have lost some fights they felt they won. But that, they agreed, was boxing — which, they said, fueled their determination to fight more aggressively, so there would be no doubt as to who was the winner.

    “I have the videotape from my quarterfinal round in 2012,” Juan said. “I came forward and threw a lot of punches — I believe I won, the videotape shows it, but the other guy had a reputation. It almost takes your dream away. . . .”

    In any event, boxing, which they credit with having kept them out of trouble when they were in East Hampton High School, and with having strengthened their characters through the discipline and focus it demands, is not the be-all and end-all of their lives.

    Luis hopes to continue studying criminal justice, probably at Long Island University’s Brentwood campus, with his eye on a job one day with the Department of Homeland Security, and Juan, who is giving private boxing lessons this winter to seven students here and continues to oversee popular cardio-boxing classes Monday nights at the Y.M.C.A. East Hampton RECenter, wants to work eventually — following perhaps a boxing stint in the Marine Corps — with poor children and advocate in behalf of mistreated animals as well.

    Among the well-treated animals in the Mancilla household are a handsome Rottweiler, chinchillas, and a white rabbit.

    Juan said he might continue to work with Marquez’s Hall of Fame trainer, Nacho Beristain. “That was my plan, to turn pro,” he said.
“After the Golden Gloves, I was going to go back to Mexico for two years and turn pro there, with Nacho as my trainer. Then, after 10 to 15 pro fights, I was going to come back and fight professionally in the U.S., but I don’t know now. . . . I might go with the Marines.”

    “Our trainer here, Herman Williams, who’s in Westbury, where we go once a week, has said he thinks we should both be focusing on pro careers,” said Luis.

    Asked about their training here, Juan said, “We train twice a day, Monday through Saturday — at the Y, at my aunt’s house, where we’ve got two gym bags. . . . That’s where I give my lessons.”

    That and their work — Luis is in his sixth year at the Shoe-Inn store on East Hampton’s Newtown Lane — didn’t leave much time for what most of their peers would consider a normal life. Do they, for instance, have girlfriends?

    “I don’t have a girlfriend as the moment,” said Juan.

    “I have one,” said Luis. “She started at my brother’s boxing classes and she likes it,” he said with a smile.

    “In 20 minutes,” said Juan, “you get a good workout!”