‘Lightning’ hopes to strike again at junior Olympics

Ten-year-old Jesus Almance Jr. is small but mighty.

Almance, a fifth-grader at Murry Fly Elementary School, recently earned a title at the National Silver Gloves Tournament in Independence, Mo.

A boxer for almost three years, Almance said he was motivated to get into the sport by his father, Jesus Almance Sr. The youngster fights in the 60-pound weight class and is trained by Ramon Franco of Odessa Boxing Club. He’s about 4-foot-two, he said, and he doesn’t know what his reach is.

The right-hander said he fought youngsters from California, Kansas City and Baltimore and he was prepared to box them. He works out two to three hours a day by shadowboxing, practicing footwork and sometimes hitting the speed and heavy bags. He also runs in staggered amounts with the high total being four miles.

He doesn’t mind putting in the work and said the sport has instilled discipline in him. About three weeks before a bout, Almance said he starts to eat healthy cutting out pizza, hamburgers, Cokes and fried food.

With 32 fights to his credit, Almance said he has six belts, but doesn’t know how many trophies he’s been awarded.

The awards and prizes are two things Almance likes about boxing. It also has helped him focus and the running has given him a lot of stamina.

When he first started boxing, Almance said he didn’t know what to expect, but he had watched his father box.

Almance’s next objective is to reach the junior Olympics, which will take place in West Virginia.

The fights he’s in now are a maximum of three one-minute rounds.

After those three rounds are up, Almance said he’s ready to go again.

Some of the people he’s faced are taller than him.

Fighting someone taller means he has to go to the body more and put pressure on his opponent.

“I just have to keep going forward. I can’t back up,” Almance said.

If his opponent is his size, Almance said he goes for the head more because it’s harder for him to hit them in the body.

When he started, Franco said Almance was barely 8 years old. When the bell rang, Franco said he had to pick him up and put him on his stool in the corner.

Franco nicknamed Almance “Lightning” because of his hand speed.

Franco said he trains Almance and his father, Jesus Almance Sr., who fights in the 132-pound class.

“They’re really good people. His whole family is … a close-knit family. They all support both of them (father and son),” Franco said.

Whenever there is a fight, the family brings a big cheering section with them.

Franco said Almance winning the Silver Gloves tournament was awesome.

“This little boy he’s got the biggest heart I’ve ever seen,” Franco said.

He added that Almance never complains about training or being on a diet.

“There are times when I really have to tell him stay out of the gym for a week and go be a kid. … He’s very dedicated, very dedicated to boxing. He watches film. He loves it,” Franco said.

If he keeps up his devotion to the sweet science, Franco said he could go pro.

Franco, who has been training young boxers for 25 to 26 years, also trains pro boxer Joey Alday and said Almance shows the same dedication.

Franco said he has had the Odessa Boxing Club for about 12 years. He added that he always tries to teach youngsters right from wrong and manners down to things like shaking hands with him and the other coaches when they arrive and when they leave.

“I try to instill little things that will make a difference down the road,” Franco said.

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