The sport of boxing is alive and well in Turlock.
Adrian Palacio — along with his cousin Jeff Tovar and Tom Fernandez — have been training boxers of all ages to compete in the ring at his The Truth Boxing gym in Turlock.
“It’s been in the family for years. Jeff’s dad and my dad grew up on boxing. It was something that we all grew up under,” said Palacio, who owns The Truth Boxing gym.
They train boxers as young as 5 up to adults who compete on the amateur circuits. While they are willing to train anyone, Palacio is clear on one thing — this is a boxing gym, not a fitness center.
“Our main focus is boxing; it’s competitive boxing. What I always try to preach to everybody is that it’s not cardio boxing or for beginners. It’s mainly people who want to learn to compete, that want to do it at a competitive level,” he said.
There are a few boxers at the gym right now continuing the family tradition.
Dutcher Middle School student Marques Tovar won the Junior Olympic Nationals in 2021 and recently won the State Silver Gloves tournament in his weight class and is looking forward to competing in the new year. His older sister, Sandra Tovar, boxed on the USA team in the Youth World competition before hanging up her gloves to attend college. She now helps coach boxers at the gym alongside her dad.
“I use my time to help train a little kids’ class. And now I help out with my little brother, Marques. It’s still good because I love boxing so much. So, now I’m choosing to help others to show them what they’re able to do. If I was able to do it, they can do it too. I love seeing little kids gain their confidence as they’re learning boxing,” Sandra Tovar said.
Both Sandra and Marques Tovar started competitive boxing when they were nine years old.
Adrian’s son, Christian Palacio, has been boxing since he was 17. The 25-year-old now competes at USA Boxing tournaments. He said that being a boxer and the son of a boxing coach, he never really gets away from the sport.
It’s not just a family affair at The Truth Boxing, however.
Cesar Olvera said he has been to gyms all around California, but when he met the coaches at The Truth Boxing, it just clicked. He’s been boxing since he was 14 years old. Now, at 21, he’s ranked #9 in the country for USA Boxing at 132 pounds.
“The Central Valley is pretty popular for boxing. I’ve been around the Bay Area and the Bay Area boxing scene is not too big. When I first moved out here, I noticed there are a lot of tough, different styles of fighters…a lot of aggressive fighters,” said Olvera.
While the Turlock gym trains a number of up-and-coming USA Boxers, there is another group of boxers who are also finding success in the ring with the help of Palacio and his crew.
Kyle Hatcher is a full-time officer with the Livingston Police Department and competes in the United Combat Association, a competitive boxing organization for peace officers, firefighters and military personnel.
“For me, it first started off as a way to stay in shape and helped me with the stressors of the job. I needed to find a good outlet just to get away from it all. And then they stuck me in the ring week one, I got beat up pretty good and from there it was love at first sight,” said Hatcher.
The sport is now a huge part of Hatcher’s life.
“I always say I’m a fighter who just happens to be a cop,” he said.
He also found that being a boxer is a way to connect with local young people.
“I felt like being someone in my position, I’ve been able to connect with a lot of the kids who come through. Some come from families who might not be law enforcement friendly or they might just not have a lot of knowledge of what’s going on (with law enforcement) and then they meet me and I talk to them and they get to know me. I feel like it creates a little bit of a better understanding. They see that I’m a regular person…They open up a lot more, it’s cool when it’s a kid who never thought they’d be friends with a cop,” Hatcher said.
The Truth Boxing gym is located at 2219 Maryann Dr. in Turlock. For more information, call (209) 351-1406.