Young Silt boxer punches his way to first victory
Everything went silent when Irving Munoz approached the ring. People may have been yelling, but the 19-year-old Silt fighter didn’t hear much.
“It was just me and him,” Munoz said of his opponent. “That was the experience.”
It was Nov. 19, Aurora. The fight, officially sanctioned by USA Boxing, ended on a decision. It also marked Munoz’s first fight and his first win.
His adrenaline was pumping thoroughly throughout the bout, he said. Sure, his opponent stung him pretty hard with at least one good punch, but Munoz said he didn’t feel much.
“It was towards the end of the third round when I hit a good combination,” he said. “Their coach gave the countdown to the opponent, and I was like, ‘Oh, I got this in the bag.’
“That feeling was pretty fun, especially toward the end, getting my hand raised up,” he said.
Munoz graduated from Coal Ridge High School in 2021 and was a multi-sport athlete. He was originally inspired to take up boxing by an anime series called Hajime no Ippo — which, of course, is about Japanese-themed boxing.
This is how he met Paul Shaffer, a Golden Gloves Boston native who runs All Valley Boxing in Glenwood Springs.
“When I was young,” Munoz said, “I didn’t fit in that well, and working out helped me separate myself from school or things that are going on at home. I think coming here is the same experience for other people. You come in, and you don’t have to worry about the outside.”
Operating as a non-profit organization, Shaffer’s youth boxing program trains every Tuesday and Thursday and also aims to help people with addiction and Parkinson’s Disease.
“We’re looking to build up a group of guys that really want to compete and work hard,” Shaffer said. “(Irving’s) success was that he worked hard on his own, like you have to do in this sport.”
The goal of specifically starting a non-profit was so that money wasn’t an object for the kids who couldn’t afford it, Shaffer said.
“Some come from broken homes and don’t have a lot of benefits like some of the people in this valley have,” he said. “My job is to give them something to strive for and feel good about themselves.”
All Valley Boxing operates out of Midland Fitness. There’s anywhere from 6-12 people coming in each week to bash punching bags and work on their footwork. The training area is surrounded by mirrors and turns into a sweatbox every time it starts to fill.
Kids come from all over the valley — Silt, New Castle, Aspen, even as far as Meeker.
Shaffer’s elation over Munoz’s fight is as palpable as his post-fight bruises.
“(Munoz) went three rounds and won the decision,” he said. “The other guy had two standing eight counts, and the ref stopped the fight. Munoz bloodied the other guy pretty good.”
Munoz’s whole family showed, Shaffer said: his grandmother, grandfather, brother, sister and her kids.
Quite a bit of pressure for a first fight, Shaffer joked.
“I was just really happy for him,” he said. “You just see that smile, and I asked him, ‘Is it a good feeling?’ He said, ‘It’s a great feeling.’”
Munoz is right now training for his next bout. This could include two exhibition bouts before he gets a Golden Gloves shot in March.
Munoz, liking where he’s at at this point, looks forward to more toe-to-toes.
“It can be the same for basketball and soccer, but I like how it’s more individualism in this sport,” he said. “It’s more mental taxing because you don’t have that team supporting you other than your coach. It’s just you and your opponent in front of you.”
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