Columbus boxing coach fights for the youth

Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 11:10 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - It’s been five months since the Haygood Recreational Center reopened in Columbus. The city closed the gym in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, boxing head coach Rick Carrillo is back in the ring doing what he loves. He says after a month of the gym being closed, he had to find another gym for his boxers.

Carrillo has nine years of boxing experience and 37 years of training. He says the best part of his job is watching the kids learn discipline, both in boxing and in life.

“The gym itself is not just for boxing,” he said. “We don’t curse, we don’t play any curse music, they can’t wear hats in the building. When we go on trips, we pray, stuff like that. But the good thing about boxing is seeing them develop and how they get better and better.”

Carrillo prioritizes keeping good relationships with his boxers, even after they leave the gym.

“If they don’t make it in boxing, I’m trying to make sure they graduate from high school,” he explained. “And sometimes, when they call me, they’ll tell me, ‘If it wasn’t for you Coach, I don’t know where I would be at. Thanks for being in my life.’”

Although only boxing for a month, Jason Edmond says he’s seen huge progress since working with Coach Carrillo.

“He knows what he’s talking about when it comes to training,” he said. “He’s always got the best of our interests and makes sure that we’re here and working hard. He makes sure that we’re prepared, so when it’s time to fight, we don’t get hurt.”

On the contrary, Kaleil Moore is 15-years-old and has been boxing for eight years at Haygood gym. When asked his favorite part of boxing, he said “I love my Coach Rick.”

Coach Carrillo says his kids have great manners and they listen, most times.

“Sometimes I leave the corner,” he explained. “I tell them, ‘if you’re not going to listen to me, you don’t need me in the corner.’ So I’ll go sit in the audience and let someone else coach them. So next time, they’ll buckle up.”

Coach Carrillo wants to rename the Haygood gym to honor his son, Darryl Carrillo, who passed away in 2005.

If you’re interested in training with him, the address is 1152 Cussetta Rd. in Columbus.