Boxing event Saturday serves as fundraiser for Rivera Boxing Club

Boxing changed Jose Rivera’s life. The Grace Wesleyan Church pastor hopes the sport can do the same for local youth.

Rivera opened the Rivera Boxing Club on Feb. 29 with no idea what interest would be like for a fitness and boxing facility.

“One month later, we had 35 members,” said Rivera during a recent appearance on GIANT fm’s morning show. “A month after that we had 60 members.”

Created in conjunction with his son, the new business brings Rivera back to his roots.

“The boxing club started almost as an experiment,” he said. “My family comes from a boxing family from the East Coast. I grew up in a boxing gym. At 13 years old I was kind of going the wrong way on the streets of New York City.

“Boxing really changed my whole outlook. It took me off the streets and gave me some vision, a mission and a purpose. It really is a blessing I was able to get into a gym and learn how to punch a bag.”


The Rivera Boxing Club is located at 116 E. Washington St. in Shelbyville.


In just over four months, the Rivera Boxing Club is a home for men, women, boys and girls to feel safe trying a new endeavor.

“The dream was to have a family business to teach boxing as a physical fitness program to address mental, physical and also spiritual needs,” said Rivera.

The early success of the club spurred an idea to host a boxing event featuring club members.

“The main purpose of this exhibition, and make no mistake about it because this is a contact sport and we want people to have that experience, but the main purpose is to show this community and the people in attendance what we’ve learned in the last few months,” said Rivera. “This is how we are training. At the beginning of month two we knew who was going to be in this competition based on their level of learning and their teachability. We started training almost three months ago for this exhibition.”


GIANT fm Real Radio will give away two VIP tickets and two General Admission tickets Wednesday morning during the 8 a.m. hour of The Morning Show with Johnny McCrory. 


All that training comes to fruition Saturday at the Boys and Girls Club of Shelbyville, 710 S. Miller St. The Rivera Boxing Club will host a 17-fight card exhibition that starts at 6 p.m.

The event kicks off with a pair of 8-year-old twin boys, Quinten and Owen Griffith, going head-to-head in the ring and ends with a main event fight between DeMarquise Perkins and Frankie “Panchito” Zepeda.

Rivera is excited to showcase the opening fight between twin brothers.

“I think it will be the fight of the night,” he said. “These two twins love each other and are the best of twins but when they get in that ring, it’s ‘I declare war.’ They are so talented.

“All I’ve done is teach them two punches – a jab and a cross. And they block and move. When they get into sparring and fight each other, it’s incredible. You need to get there early and not miss that fight.”


Corey Barton, a football coach for Waldron High school's 8-man football team, will take on Hector Garcia Saturday night in an Adult Heavyweight bout at the Boys and Girls Club of Shelbyville.


Rivera Boxing Club has invested in the event that includes a Friday-night weigh-in program at Echo Effect, 102 E. Washington St. in Shelbyville. The program includes weigh-ins, faceoff photos and fighters addressing the crowd. There also will be a spaghetti dinner.

Fighters will report to the Boys and Girls Club Saturday afternoon for medical checkups and fight preparation.

“This will be a whole production,” said Rivera and will include concessions and merchandise available at the event.

VIP seating is $40 and includes back stage access. General admission tickets ($20) also are available. Tickets can be purchased in advance at

The site also includes membership information for the boxing club which will be offering more combat sports training in the future, according to Rivera and Matthew Zinaman, who will fight in the co-main event Saturday against Nate Clouse.

“After the exhibition, which is a fundraiser for the gym, we will go to a full-scale combat gym,” said Zinaman, a Rushville native working with Rivera at the club. “We will incorporate MMA (mixed martial arts) into boxing and really bring something new and exciting and what a lot of people are searching for. We have 14-, 15-, and 16-year-olds, boys and girls coming in, and they are excited.”

Rivera is enjoying seeing area youth take such interest in a physical sport.

“My passion is working with teens and getting them off the roads, streets and barns,” he said. “I’ve met a couple of teens that are vaping at 14 years old which is horrible. We are getting these teens in and giving them something to do, knocking out some anxiety and some anger.”

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