My Boxing Trophy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   My boxingtrophies are important to me; I've trained very hard for them. If itweren't for Speedy, though, I definitely wouldn't have 50 trophies andmedals.

Of the many trophies, my first is my favorite. It iseight inches tall and gray-black with two gold lines on each side. Asingle boxer stands on the top, his left hand throwing a jab. If I said,"Pick the trophy you like best," you'd never pick this one. Youwould probably pick my 1999 Golden Gloves trophy. It is bright and fancycompared to the one I got when Speedy was training me.

When I wasnine years old I said to my coach, "Speedy, I want a trophy." Wewere walking to the park where Speedy would have us hang the punchingbag from a strong branch. His two sons and I would take turns puttingthe chain around the heavy branch to secure the bag. While two of uswere doing this, one would be putting on his hand wraps and warming up.That afternoon I put my hand wraps on and began stretching out,shadowboxing and punching the bag. Speedy was always right next to me,telling me how to punch and move.

"Gil, you have to pretendsomeone is throwing punches at you, slip and throw. Make him miss. Makehim pay. Arlo fallar, despues tiza," he would say. "Make him miss,then throw." I used to get frustrated because he would say it so manytimes, but I knew it was for my own good. Speedy always told me,"Little gallo, don't worry, you will get a trophysoon."

"But when?" I'd ask, "I've been training threemonths!"

Finally, one morning, before our workout, Speedysurprised me, "Gallo, there's going to be a festival with anexhibition boxing show. Maybe you'll box."

"For real,Speedy?" I was so happy I ran straight home to tell myfamily.

When the day arrived I couldn't wait to give it my alland win a trophy, but there were so many spectators I began to getnervous.

I stepped into the ring when our names were announced.The bell rang, creating butterflies in my stomach. We began boxing. Iremember wanting that trophy so badly; I threw nonstop punches in thefirst round. Then I went to the corner, and Speedy said, "Keepthrowing just like that and you've got your first trophy!" My opponentwas hurt and his coach wouldn't let him come out for the second round,so the referee came to my corner, said, "No contest," and waved hisarms. I jumped up with excitement. I had my first trophy!

"Speedy, thank you so much for helping me!" I said.

He gave me a big hug and said, "Gil, you're going to havemore than one if you keep working that hard." Because of what Speedytaught me, I have won 18 amateur titles.

One winter afternooneight years later, I arrived home and in a sad voice my momsaid,"Gil, I have to talk to you about something." I had a badfeeling. "Speedy se murio," she said. I wanted to cry. I went to mytrophy stand and searched for that first one. I held it but felt worselooking at it. All the things Speedy taught me went through my mind: thehead movements, moving and punching, the words he'd said, "Praybefore you box. He throws two, you throw four. Always double what hethrows. Don't be scared, he has two arms just like you. Pray for nothingbad to happen to you."

I realized everything I know is from him,and that my trophy really belongs to him. I thought about placing it inhis coffin and knew Speedy would appreciate me giving him somethingspecial.

I asked the funeral director, "Could I place mytrophy in the casket?" But he said no. "Please, let me do this," Ipersisted. "It means a lot." He finally said okay.

Speedy'sfamily was crying in the funeral parlor. I gave his wife a big hug andstarted crying. I knelt by the casket and prayed. I thought about allthe fun days with Speedy and his good advice. He always told me,"When I die, don't cry. Be happy; I was always a happy man. Thinkabout the good things I did for kids. "That's what I thought as I placedmy first trophy by Speedy's left arm.

The trophy washis. I felt bad because Speedy died very young, he was only 46. Speedy'swife leaned her head on my shoulder. We stayed there for awhile, and mybrother walked over and put his arm around me. The funeral directorclosed the casket, but not before I leaned over and placed a kiss onSpeedy's forehead.

Carrying the casket to the funeral car mytears poured. At the cemetery, the wind was cold and sad. His sons and Ihugged each other. The cold made my tears freeze and burn; I wanted towarm up in the car, but I stayed there because I wanted to remember thatday forever. As the casket was lowered into the ground I said my finalgood-bye.

"Speedy, you are really special to me. When Itrain I am going to think about you and how you pushed me so hard. I'vebecome a really good boxer. I will always have you in my heart. Thankyou, Speedy, for not only being my coach, but for treating me like a sonand a friend."




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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