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Arizona Boxing News & Notes With Don Smith: Sting Nabs Coach, 3 Volunteer Elf's And Much More

Boxing Fans,
39 year old boxing mentor and gym proprietor Damien Stone (Stone Hard Gym, Chandler Arizona) was arrested on Friday December 13 and charged with one count of prostitution, a class one misdemeanor. Stone was one of 111 men and women apprehended and booked during a vigorous two week (12/2-16) vice sting operation, code name:"Operation Vice Grip." Revelation of the investigation and bust was made public during a press conference hosted by Maricopa County Sheriff Joesph Arpaio on December 18. His briefing primarily focused on the 30 persons charged with soliciting a minor for the purpose of prostitution, a class two misdemeanor subject to prison time if found guilty. The sting operation also resulted in the confiscation of 32 lbs of Methamphetamine, 21 kilos of Cocaine, 487 lbs of Marijuana and an unspecified number of guns. According to published reports, "Operation Vice Grip" is the largest police sting operation conducted in Arizona history.

One of the alleged offenders is a male high school chemistry teacher,according to news reports, who responded to an online ad placed by two female Tempe Arizona Police Detectives posing as 16 year old girls willing to perform unmentionable sexual acts. He, like 29 other men, believed the promise of a good time over the phone and agreed to meet the two under cover officers at a specific location and consummate the promise. When the men arrived, the detectives contacted them again and told the anxious males they were 16 year old girls willing to deliver sexual favors for a price. Several of the accused have admitted guilt while others used their right to lawyer up and contest the charges. The apprehension of the school teacher and another male with a history of criminal conviction of sex offenses may explain why others arrested in the sting operation received less media scrutiny.

Mr. Stone's name was given to me by an anonymous tipster who saw his mug shot displayed on a local Phoenix Television website ( CBS Channel 5). The source, a boxing fan, didn't know specifics, but it was an interesting news tip that motivated me to pick up the phone and find out what was behind the arrest of Damien Stone. The story printed on the website didn't mention Mr. Stone; so I dialed CBS 5 and talked to Scott(reporter) who knew nothing about charges against Stone, but he did recall the name and photo. I told him I would call the Sheriff's Office and talk to someone in the media relations department. He wished me luck in a lifeless monotone, indicative of someone who thought I was fishing in the wrong pond. I thanked him for his help and took my next step, a call to the Sheriff's media representative.

I talked to the Media Specialist (Name Withheld) who told me that Mr. Stone was released on his own recognizance and instructed to report to Kyrene Justice of the Peace Court in Chandler, Arizona on December 30. If found guilty of the Class One Misdemeanor, Presiding Judge Elizabeth Rogers could decide to sentence the boxing coach to six months in jail and fine him $2,500.00 +court costs, (an additional $1,500.00) or your Honor could deliver the minimum punishment, no fine, no time and send him on his way with a verbal admonishment.

Judge Rogers was elected to serve in 2006 and she is currently the Secretary for the Arizona State Justice of the Peace Association and the Maricopa County Justice of the Peace Association. She was born in California, moved to Arizona in 1992, attended Carl Hayden High School and Arizona State University. Before her election to the bench, Rogers ran unsuccessfully for the Arizona Congressional seat in the 5th District. The sentencing information was obtained from a verified member of the Maricopa County Attorney's staff. Special thanks to law enforcement for their cooperation. It should be made abundantly clear that Mr. Stone isn't charged with soliciting a minor for the purpose of prostitution.

In addition to facing possible punitive action from the judicial system; Mr. Stone,as a boxing gym owner and member of the USA Boxing Arizona Organization, faces moral condemnation from the community he serves and expulsion from USA Boxing Arizona if convicted as a sex offender. In his defense, Mr. Stone told me "It was a bachelor party and a sting." I asked him if he would like to elaborate and he replied "No" and reiterated his initial response: "It was a bachelor party and a sting." He will have his day in court and rightfully, so. Mr.
Stone is married with children.

Gold Medal Winner: Congratulations to Sulem Urbina Soto for winning the gold medal in the flyweight division at the Mexican Amateur National Championships held November 30-December 7 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Sulem, a U.S.A resident, born in Mexico, has hopes of representing her native country (Mexico) in the 2016 Olympics. Good job! Sulem is trained by her husband, Andrew Soto, Knockout Gym.

Three Elfs: In Keeping with the yule time spirit, WBO Featherweight Champion Orlando Salido, Welterweight sensation Jose Benavidez Jr. and fledgling super middleweight David Benavidez participated in a blanket drive to benefit Andre House, a charitable 501 C-3 non-profit organization dedicated to Ministering to the poor and homeless population living in the Phoenix Area. The event was held at Karla's Kitchen,2448 Grand Avenue in Phoenix, on Saturday, December 21. All three pugilists obliged their fans with autographs and photo opportunities. Fans brought new or gently used blankets which will be distributed to Andre House clients.

The organization was founded in 1984 by two Holy Cross Priests and continues to feed,clothe and provide shelter for countless people who needed a helping hand. Thank you Orlando, Jose and David for your example of giving. Jose and David are frequent volunteers at the South Phoenix Facility. It refreshing to see athletes step up to the plate and do the right thing. The boxing community will remember.

33 year old Orlando Salido(40-12-2 w/28 knockouts) has a home in Phoenix and trains at the Iron Boy Gym in South Phoenix. Fight reported last month that two time Olympic Gold Medal winner Vasyl Lomachenko has challenged the champ to meet him on March 1, 2014 at a location to be determined, but MSG in New York is the best bet for now. Lomachenko is 1-0 as a professional and that performance received mixed reviews but he is a two time gold medal winner. Top Rank will promote the bout. David (2-0 w/2 knockouts) is scheduled to fight on the Iron Boy 11 card at the Celebrity Theater on 2/22. Jose (18-0-w/14 knockouts) has no confirmed date. Also
attending the event was award winning Sports Director Felipe Corral (Univision Television Group) with his son. Special high five for event coordinator Emily Pandelakis. Salido Plans to fight as a super featherweight in the near future.

In Memory: Every year we lose valued members of our universal boxing community to death and as a result, ABN&N asks boxing fans to pause and reflect upon our loss. 2013 was particularly difficult for Arizona fans who were shocked and disgusted at the senseless and brutal murder of 17 year old amateur boxing sensation Alexis Urbina in September. In November, Phoenix Police apprehended two suspects who are awaiting criminal proceeding. The Urbina family has vowed to remember and celebrate his legacy with future tributes and lasting memorials.

Here is a partial list of boxing figures who passed away in 2013: Ken Norton, Emile Griffith, Filipino teenager Jonas Garcia,Jacob Matala, Tommy Morrison, Leo Alonzo, Michael Walker Florentino Fernandez, Tony Martin, Chucho Castillo, Carmelo Negron, Luis Molina and Billy Smith. For a complete list go online to Wikipedia where fans can find at least 130 names of men and women who served the boxing industry proudly during their life's work. Rest in Peace!

Quick Jabs: Arizona Heavyweight Rico Hoye was mentioned on Boxrec for a tentative fight date of April 20 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but that date is null and void. He is now thinking of possible action on January 10, nothing set in cement........Tucson welterweight Roshawn McCain doesn't get much ink, but he could be someone to watch. A later comer to the sport of boxing, Roshawn reached the quarterfinals in the U.S.A. Olympic trials for 2012 before turning professional at age 26 earlier this year. Trainer Jesse Haro (Scrap Yard Gym in Tucson) thinks McCain is a keeper while skeptics say the "old" man started too late to harvest a meaningful career. Roshawn didn't take up the sort until he was 22. His professional record stands at 2-0 with both victories posted as unanimous decisions. The Tucson fighter bested Brady Rein in his last fight (Nevada) on 4 days notice. Haro told me, Arizona Boxing Match Maker Mike Sanchez showed courage in booking the virtual unknown and the exposure and outcome may lead to several upcoming bouts in Nevada.

Mr. McCain joins a growing number of young Arizona based boxing prospects who are starting to get noticed by scribes outside of the Cactus State. Others include Jose Benavidez Jr., Trevor McCumby, Victor Castro, Abel Ramos, Luis Olivares, Carlos Castro, Francisco C. De Vaca, David Benavidez, Brandon Riddell and Alexis Zazueta. I didn't include Alexis Santiago and Juanito Garcia on the list because both fighters hold title belts and champions are no longer considered prospects; in my opinion. Boxing fans in Arizona are hoping at least one of these "young hopefuls" can eventually win a world title. To do so, a fighter must be hungry enough to make sacrifices and take on all challengers at any venue. Cherry picking foes and always fighting in your own backyard is counter
productive and naive.

Golden Gloves: 67th Arizona Golden Gloves Tournament is scheduled for March 7,8,9 at the Arizona Events Center in Mesa. As customary, the annual Event will honor the legacy and memory of Al Fenn who was instrumental in promoting amateur and professional boxing in the state of Arizona. Kelly Fenn, after her father's death, assumed his role as director of the Annual Golden Gloves Tournament and the Copper Gloves boxing show held yearly during the Arizona State Fair commencing in Mid-October. Check the Arizona Golden Gloves site for more information. Ticket prices are always reasonable for both events.

Olympic Dream : I Spent some time at Fuentes Boxing Gym, on McDowell Road in Phoenix, recently and was impressed by the work ethic of the young boxers assembled. Arguably the best young talent in the Fuentes stable is 15 year old Isaac Wences. Senor Wences wants to represent the U.S.A. in the 2016 Olympics, but there is a problem with his birth certificate and his place of birth which is Mexico. Isaac is working with authorities to change his status so he can remain in this country and pursue his dream. So far the prognosis looks good. Isaac is a good kid with a lot of potential. Fuentes Gym has three young fighters competing in the 2014 Nationals in Reno Nevada.

A Win for the Champ: I bumped into 5 time world champion Michael Carbajal recently and he was elated about winning back the rights to his 9th Street Gym in Phoenix. Conniving brother Danny Carbajal (former trainer) donated the property to a local non profit organization (Youth Assistance Foundation) without Michael's knowledge and the Champ had to go through "Hell" to get his property back. A Phoenix judge sided with Michael and the boxing community couldn't be happier. Unfortunately, Michael will never retrieve the Millions of dollars stolen from him by an older brother he once trusted in and out of the ring.

Team Arizona: The Junior & Youth Nationals are set for Reno Nevada, January 5-11, 2014. Arizona will be sending 13 boxers to the eventand here is a complete list of the Arizona participants and the boxing gyms they represent. Junior Division: Fernando Martinez 106 lbs.Fuentes Gym...Karin Cuevas 101 lbs Knockout Gym...Gabriel Quizada 119 lbs. Fuentes Gym...Andres Gaytan 114 lbs. Salvation Army....Alfredo Escarcega 132 lbs. AZ. Boxing Academy. Youth Division: Monica Suazo 106 lbs. Tucson Wolf-Pack Boxing...Ariel Arizmendez 132 lbs. Sonny's Gym....Adrian Servin 108 lbs. Knockout Gym....Robert Garcia 114 lbs. Peraza Boxing....Edwin Ceballos 123 lbs Fuentes Gym....Omar Samano 132 lbs Gene Lewis Boxing....Eban Vargas 141 lbs. Gene Lewis Boxing....Armando Gaytan 152 lbs. Salvation Army Boxing. Leading the Arizona Team are coaches Sonny Gutierrez and Juan Mendoza. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, drive safely. Until Next Time!

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Don Smith.

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