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Knockout OTA at Palm Springs Boxing


(PALM SPRINGS) — They yelped. They howled. They barked.

But by the time veteran world championship boxing trainer Steve Quinonez had knocked the last ounce of sweat from the SoCal Coyotes during Saturday’s brutal OTA (organized team activity) at the Palm Springs Boxing Club, the players returned to their own sport in better shape and with a new appreciation for the sweet science.

The players trained alongside a dozen other young boxing hopefuls — from pint-sized pounders to teenage terrors — -who next week will themselves head to the Adidas National Championships.

Quinonez, who has devoted much of his life to mentoring the youth of Palm Springs while training several world championship fighters in the process, is a committed community servant battling to keep the gym doors open, while changing the culture for inner-city youth.

Today, however, he gave the Coyotes a crash course in pugilistic performance, and demanded they dig deep to discover if they truly had the hearts of champions.

Matching the intensity of the unforgiving desert sun, Quinonez had the players dripping with sweat within minutes. Enormous tractor tires were flipped, broad-jumped and beaten with weighted poles. There were high-stepping tire drills, sprints and quarter-mile runs.

And that was just the first 90-minute warm-up.

By the time the exhausted football players had worked their way inside the gym for intense cardio and calisthenics, and then finally, to the ring, they were stunned to see how easily the superbly conditioned boxers simply toweled off, laced up and got ready for the main event — the actual boxing.

Fists flew, round after round, as future champions fought with fury before the Coyotes were invited to join the fray. Not all accepted. But among those who did, first up were Cedric Cox, the 325-pound Coyote Defensive Player of the Year, against Juan Mayen, a 330-pound, seven-year-veteran guard.

Laughter and heckling quickly turned to “oohs” and “aahs” — and roars of applause — when the two giant warriors began trading frightening bombs that buckled the knees of both men and impressed even Quinonez, who has seen thousands of rounds in hundreds of title fights. “They fought with heart,” he smiled.

“Are you kidding me?” grinned Coyote All-American speedster Rashad Roberts, from Atlanta, Georgia, as he pulled on gloves for the first time in his life. Roberts, who scored 24 touchdowns last spring as the featured receiver in the Coyotes Run ‘n’ Shoot offense, said his boxing strategy would be simply “luck — and duck.”

His opponent? Of course — veteran All-American defensive back Bo “Night Train” Bovain. In what was very similar to a Coyote football practice, they pounded each other to a very respectable draw.

Some players, like cornerback Dana Prieto and linebacker Cory Westmoreland, opted for the heavy bags and speed bags instead of the ring. Not so, however, Josh “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” Asuncion, and linebacker Bryan “Pit-Stop” Garcia. The pair so fiercely traded leather that Quinonez finally gave Asuncion a standing-eight count. “He didn’t hurt me,” smiled a protesting Asuncion. “I was setting him up.”

Coyote assistant coach and trainer Mike McBride, who pushed and stretched the players through their workout regimen, loved what he witnessed. “It was great to work with Steve and his boxers, and for our guys to see just how intense these guys train,” Coach Mac said.

“In the meantime, our players got some incredible conditioning and cross-training. We’re getting in tremendous shape. We’re having fun, and we’re building chemistry. That’s what OTAs are all about.”

Coyote OTAs continue next Saturday, June 22 with the Desert Dogs Bootcamp.

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