By Emily Glory Peters
As Mike Tyson once famously observed, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.
Still, having a (thoughtful) approach to caring for your physical and mental health is a great idea—especially in an era where burnout and overstimulation are painfully real. At 15th Round Boxing in Pasadena, brothers Evangelos and George Giovanis have made this mentality the king of the ring.
“As kids, we grew up in Rhode Island in the restaurant my parents owned. Not only did I love the delicious food, but I had a terrible addiction to Pepsi! The damage it was doing to my body and health was unmistakable,” says Evangelos, recalling how he was bullied for his size. Around age 13, he and George made the decision to take up boxing with coach “Tiny” Ricci—a move that changed the course of their lives.
“George and I opened our first location of 15th Round Boxing in December 2015, and with client support opened a second location in East Pasadena in November 2018,” says Evangelos. “We have plans to eventually open more locations and help spread the love of boxing with all its health benefits for the body, mind and soul.”
Although their pathway to entrepreneurship included many odd jobs— “we still make a mean pizza,” Evangelos boasts—the brothers have more than succeeded in sharing their passion for boxing. Today, they train novices as young as 8 years old all the way up to professional boxers—fighters Alexander “The Great” Enriquez and Andre “The Little Giant” Marquez were born and raised at their gym, and young athletes like Junior Olympian Hailey Salguero have also found a home at 15th Round. Yet despite their experience as trainers and managers, the Giovanis brothers continue to be amazed at the sport’s metamorphic power.
“Boxing transforms lives,” remarks Evangelos, noting that both Enriquez and Marquez had troubled pasts before they joined the sport. Ardent discipline paid off when both achieved pro ranking, and now both young men teach boxing to others, undoubtedly influenced by the Giovanis brothers’ technique.
“At our gym, a typical class consists of a great warm up that strengthens and conditions all the muscle groups, followed by boxing technique and ending with a cool down focused on the core,” says Evangelos. A healthy does of “tough love” and lively encouragement round out the each personalized session to keep fighters motivated to reach their individual goals—those both physical and personal.
“Boxing does that,” Angelo reflects. “It makes you a stronger person inside and out.”
It’s important to note that, despite the sensationalized actions of fighters like our friend Tyson, Evangelos rejects the construct that boxing is solely for the gratuitously violent.
“There’s no doubt that, as a contact sport, this isn’t an injury-free sport. But there’s also a misconception that boxers are brutes and savages simply because they punch each other,” he says. “At 15th Round, we have a variety of clients from all walks of life: heart surgeons, actors, yoga instructors, waiters, janitors and salesmen. You don’t even have to spar or compete if you don’t want to; some clients just like to punch the heavy bags during open gym hours and that’s enough for them. Boxing is for everyone.”
Everyone, granted, who is willing to work hard. Angelo also cautions people against the media-made “Rocky” mentality of instant transformation. His “rare diamonds” are those who make boxing into a lifestyle; a devotion that runs alongside full-time jobs, families and a willingness to sacrifice time and comfort to be great. And great they are becoming—physically, spiritually, mentally.
“A boxing gym is not just a place go punch custom leather bags, but rather an emblem of hope in a community, regardless of wealth, race, age or sex. Not only have we saved some clients from the streets or rehabilitated them off drugs, we’ve also saved others from diabetes, obesity, even failed marriages,” says Evangelos. “I’m always inspired by the physical and mental transformation I see people achieve in boxing at our gyms. Their gratitude inspires me to keep going.”
15th Round Boxing is located at 245 S. Rosemead Blvd. in Pasadena and is open Monday–Saturday. To learn more about classes and upcoming pro fights, contact the 15th Round Boxing team at www.15roundboxing.com | 818.930.4820 and follow along on Facebook @15thRound.