Home Boxing News Amparo balances business with boxing

Amparo balances business with boxing

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Sept. 29, 2011) – The first time Alex Amparo stepped foot inside Jose Santos’ 401 Boxing gym, he tipped the scales at an uncharacteristic 218 pounds.

“Having been an athlete my whole life, I didn’t like the way I looked or felt,” Amparo said.

Three years later, the former college baseball player from the Dominican Republic who now sells life insurance for a living in Rhode Island has found himself in an even more unlikely spot – training for his second bout as a professional boxer, which will take place Friday, Oct. 7 2011 against light heavyweight Nick Lavin (2-1, 2 KOs) of Shelton, Conn., at the Twin River Event Center in Lincoln, R.I.

“You could’ve asked me three years ago,” Amparo said, “and I would’ve never envisioned this.”

Amparo, 27, had no intention of becoming a boxer – or even a sparring partner – the day he drove past Santos’ gym in Cranston. He just wanted to get back in shape, but the more weight he lost, the more confidence he gained. Amparo soon began sparring with locals Joey “K.O. Kid” Spina and Joe Gardner, trading the suit and tie from his day job for gloves and headgear at night.

“I caught the bug,” he said.

Within two years, Amparo competed in his first and only amateur bout in Fall River’s Police Athletic League (P.A.L.) Tournament in 2010, losing a close decision to two-time New England Golden Gloves Open Division champion Sean Bettencourt of Stoughton, Mass., who recently competed in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Boxing Trails.

For someone whose only prior experience in combat sports came as a child in local karate tournaments, Amparo performed well enough against Bettencourt to convince Santos that his new prospect could compete at the professional level.

“The one thing I liked about him was he had long arms,” Santos said. “His arms are so long that when he raises them to block his head, he’s covering his body, too. You don’t find that with many guys. His hands could be at his face, and yet his whole body would still be protected – kind of like [former undisputed light middleweight champion] Winky Wright. He has great defense.”

“With the characteristics I have, I knew the pro game would be a much better fit for me,” Amparo added. “People tell me I’m heavy-handed, and I have a good chin. I’m not concerned with getting jabbed to the chin and losing points.”

Amparo won his professional debut with a first-round knockout against Timmy Kaes in April and will face a stiffer test against the experienced Lavin on Oct. 7 on the undercard of Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports’ “Rhode Warriors” show – the first professional boxing event in Rhode Island since November.

Providence’s Vladine Biosse (11-1, 6 KOs) will star in the eight-round super middleweight main event against John Mackey (13-6-2, 6 KOs) of Montgomery, Ala., and Richard Starnino (9-5-2, 2 KOs) of Providence – a.k.a. “Bobo The Bull” – will return to the ring for the first time in two years to battle Woonsocket, R.I., native Reynaldo Rodriguez (5-2-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round super middleweight bout.

“Being a huge boxing fan, I know what CES is all about,” Amparo said. “I have a big appreciation for them as a fighter knowing how lucky we are to have a venue like Twin River and a promoter like them bringing boxing back to a local level. If we didn’t have CES, we wouldn’t have boxing in Rhode Island.”

Perhaps the most impressive chapter in Amparo’s story is the fact he also works full-time as financial specialist for Allstate Insurance, covering nine offices in Rhode Island. He specializes in life-insurance policies, but also has experience in investment and retirement plans from the four years he spent with MetLife.

Born in the Dominican Republic, Amparo moved with his mother, father and two of his seven brothers to New York when he was 4 years old. They stayed for one year before settling in Rhode Island, where Amparo became a standout pitcher for the Classical High School baseball team in Providence. His uncle, Arturo Caines, played two seasons of minor-league baseball in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, including one year with the Bristol Tigers of the Appalachian League, so, needless to say, baseball ran in the family.

“I’m Dominican,” Amparo quipped, “so it runs in all of our blood.”

Amparo eventually enrolled at Louisiana Tech University to play collegiate baseball, but never got much playing time due to the level of competition in Division I, so he transferred to Johnson & Wales University in Providence and began studying for his financial services degree. Now he’s balancing two careers, comforted by the stability of his full-time job, but intrigued by the possibility of what he could accomplish if he continues to stick with boxing.

“As far as boxing is concerned, I obviously got a pretty late start compared to where most successful fighters start, but even though I can’t make up for the fact I started late, I think I can go as far as my work ethic, skills and determination will take me.

“While it’s not my lifeblood in one sense, I’m still fighting professionally, so I’m passionate about it. Once you get in that ring, you know the guy across from you is trying to take your head off. It’s survival. Nothing else matters but the guy across from you. He’s in there trying to prove a point and you’re in there trying to prove a point.”

Next Friday, Amparo will look to state his case as the next rising star in Providence.

“He’s still pretty green, but he has a long way to go,” Santos said. “He’s very athletic and he’s picked everything up pretty quickly. He’s a fast learner. He’s got a lot going on, but when he’s in the gym he gets his work done.”

“Rhode Warriors” features 10 action-packed bouts. Johnathan Vazquez (4-0-1, 3 KOs) of New Bedford, Mass., will put his unbeaten record on the line against dangerous welterweight Bryan Abraham (4-7, 4 KOs) of Schenectady, N.Y., in a six-round bout. Searching for his fifth knockout in as many tries, Thomas Falowo (4-0, 4 KOs) of Pawtucket, R.I., will face Schenectady’s Luis Hernandez, who will be making his professional debut, in a four-round bout.

“Rhode Warriors” will also feature the return of Warwick, R.I., super middleweight Benny “The Boss” Costantino (6-0, 6 KOs), fighting for the first time since 2001, against Winter Haven, Fla., veteran Odias Dumezil (3-6, 1 KO), who now trains in Cranston, R.I. Lightweight Agustine Maurus (1-0-1, 1 KO) of Lawrence, Mass., who fought Vazquez to a draw in July, will battle newcomer Christian Rivera of Gloucester in a four-round intrastate bout; Kevin Cobbs (1-0, 1 KO) of Burlington, Vt., will face Bakari (0-2) of Bridgeport, Conn., in a four-round light heavyweight bout and fellow light heavyweight Alex Amparo (1-0, 1 KO) of Providence will take on Nicholas Lavin (2-1, 2 KOs) of Shelton, Conn., in a four-round bout.

Red-hot prospect Chris Chatman (9-1-1, 4 KOs) of San Diego, Calif., who battled former U.S. Olympian Demetrius Andrade of Providence at Twin River in October of 2009 in a controversial loss, will take part in a special six-round light middleweight attraction, while bantamweight Shelito Vincent of Providence will make her debut against veteran Karen Dulin (2-9, 1 KO) of Mystic, Conn., in a four-round bout.

Tickets for “Rhode Warriors” are $35.00, $50.00, $75.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at www.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com, at the Players Club booth at Twin River, or through any TicketMaster location. Doors open 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7.

(Twin River has waived its 18+ rule for “Rhode Warriors.” Anybody under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and must enter through the West entrance.)

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