El Salvador’s first Olympic Boxer
By Vikram Birring, Doghouse Boxing (Jan 17, 2011)
El Salvador has never had an Olympic boxing team.

Until now, that is.

Due to his dual citizenship, amateur boxer Pablo Cruz has the chance of a lifetime to represent El Salvador in the 132-pound division.

Cruz, who is trained by Hylon Williams Jr. and Jay Johns at the Savannah Boxing Club in Houston, Texas, is exercising a clause after a decision made by his parents’ home country will allow the first boxing team in its history.

The fact that Cruz is even in this position is remarkable.

His father was just a teenager in El Salvador when he decided to bolt after fed up with brushes with near-death due to the civil war between the country’s military and rebel forces. He was granted asylum in the United States and a generation later, his son is capitalizing on the opportunities granted by the decision he made a generation ago.

His friend and gym mate is another remarkable story of moving and starting over. Regis Prograis, a standout in the 152-pound division, ended up in Houston five years ago after Hurricane Katrina took everything his family had in New Orleans.

Arriving on a bus with nothing more than a bag of clothes and his parents, Prograis wandered to the Savannah Boxing club on a tip from a friend, and has not looked back since, winning the 2010 Ringside National Championship and placing highly in numerous other National Tournaments and winning the 2010 Texas State Championship as well. Prograis also hopes to make the Olympic team in 2012, but on the way has to deal with his nemesis Errol Spence, the only boxer to defeat Prograis more than once.

Their path starts in two weeks as they both head to Lubbock for the Texas State Championships. Cruz is going for the experience, but Prograis must win to keep his dream alive. The next generation of stars could very well be from Houston, Texas and are worth keeping an eye on.

Questions or comments,
Vikram at: vikram.birring@gmail.com

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