Merced County Times Newspaper
The Power of Positive Press

Local gym turning Merced into ‘Titletown USA’


Special to the Times

The sport of boxing has a long and storied past in American culture; it has broken down racial barriers, captivated audiences and galvanized cultures.

Typically when we think of “boxing cities,’ places come to mind such as Philadelphia, Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles and San Antonio.

However, in the ranks of the junior divisions, our very own Merced, California is “Titletown U.S.A.”

Tucked away on the south side of town, across from the municipal airport, is Haro Brothers Boxing Gym — a true gem in the sport. Jesus Haro Jr started the gym back in 2012 as an outlet for his son to pursue his dream of becoming a boxer.

“I always wanted to provide something positive for the kids,” he says. “Everything we do at Haro Brothers goes directly to them.”

What began as one fighter has now progressed into upwards of 20 young fighters ranging in ages from 5 to 18 and over. The Haro Brothers camp currently boasts 10 National Champions and a 20-time National Champion in Jesus “Chiquito” Haro.

The gym is ground zero for all local fighters interested in competition, weather it’s training to be the next contender, improving striking skills that transfer to MMA, or giving a base knowledge and confidence to combat the local bully.

“We take anyone who wants to learn, and we strive to help anybody who needs it,” Haro Jr. points out.

As is common in the sport of boxing there is no shortage of personalities and nicknames to be found around the gym. Joseph “The Maniac” Martinez, a four-time national champion at the age of 10, summed up what it means to be a fighter at Haro Brothers.

“I used to fight like a maniac,” he says. “Now I fight like a boxer.”

In addition to training fighters, Haro Jr. also serves as a volunteer referee and judge both locally and at the national level. Recently he was asked to be the head coach for the U.S.A. Junior Olympic Team this month

Certainly no easy task to take on, the Junior Olympics takes place in Madison, Wisconsin, June 22-29. Haro Jr was approached by the Junior Olympic coordinator Dennis Moniz to be the head coach. Three fighters from Haro Brothers Gym will be traveling to Wisconsin to compete — Jesus Haro III, Santiago Veloz, and Brianna Martinez — in addition to 30 other fighters from Sacramento to Bakersfield, ranging in age from 8-17 years.

The Junior Olympics is a culmination of a journey that begins locally then advances to the regional level. Once a fighter wins at the regional level they can be invited to join the Junior Olympic Team and compete in the national bracket.

“We are looking forward to traveling to Wisconsin … and hopefully bringing home some gold medals,” Haro Jr says.

The success of the gym doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of Haro Jr. Many parents help out with training drills and activities as well as contribute as coaches.

“It’s a team effort all around, and we all do our part,” says Juan Martinez, a parent and volunteer.

The gym is run as a nonprofit, and all resources go directly into the kids to cover the myriad of costs associated with the sport of boxing.

In true Merced fashion these coaches, fighters, and parents epitomize the grit and determination it takes to be successful on the national stage, and they exemplify the values of this community by representing it positively.

With so many big names and big markets synonymous with the sport of boxing, this operation out of the 209 area code is showing the competition that hard work, humility, and sacrifice are ultimately the hallmark of champions.

You might also like