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A golden garage

Boxing coach Freddy Coronado trains a pair of Golden Gloves hopefuls in his Cornelius garage


Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Local trainers Freddy Coronado (front left) and Mike Muniz pose with Golden Gloves boxers Jairo Estrada (back left) and Joel Gomez at Coronado's Cornelius garage.If you walk by Freddy Coronado’s home in north Cornelius on the right day of the week and at the right time of evening, you might hear it.

Even if the garage door to Coronado’s home is closed — which it often is during practice — you might hear a sound and wonder just what it is: a staccato pop-pop-pop.

That is the sound of striking boxing gloves, because Coronado is a boxing coach and his garage is his ring. And even though his boxers practice in a garage rather than a gym, they are training to be the best.

Coronado, who works as a welder fabricator for a company in Forest Grove, calls his group the Dream Team. The name is a nod not to the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team, but rather to the fact that Coronado and his fighters all have dreams. Coronado’s is to open a bona fide boxing facility so he won’t have to coach out of his garage. Two of his boxers, Jairo Estrada and Joel Gomez, dream of turning professional at their craft.

It is dreams — as well as hard work and sweat — that fuel this group to keep striving.

Estrada and Gomez, who are both 19 and reside in Hillsboro, will be taking the next step toward their dreams this weekend, when they participate in the Oregon Golden Gloves tournament, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Eagle Crest Resort in Redmond. The winner in each class will advance to a regional Golden Gloves competition next month in Las Vegas.

With Gomez and Estrada practicing diligently in recent weeks, especially with Coronado’s coaching partner, Mike Muniz, Coronado likes where his fighters are at entering the tournament.

“They’re going to be shining,” Coronado said last week, seated in his garage with Muniz, Estrada and Gomez one night after practice. “I think we’re going to have a good shot to win, but the most important thing is to go out there and compete.

“If we win, great, but if we lose I’m not going to lose any sleep about it.”

Coronado can say that with the confidence of a coach who has been there before. Last year, one of his boxers, Oscar Herrera, won the state Golden Gloves tournament before advancing to the final of the regional tournament, which draws participants from multiple states. That put him one win away from making the national Golden Gloves tournament, also staged annually in Las Vegas.

Herrera stepped away from the Dream Team several months after winning his state title, but Gomez and Estrada, after taking breaks to deal with work and life, are back. Both young men have known Coronado since their early teenage years, when they met him through the Beaverton PAL (Police Activities League) gym, where Coronado did some coaching.

For Gomez, his first fight in the tournament will also be his first in some two years. About 14 months ago, he had surgery to correct a heart murmur. After that, he was not sure if he would compete again. Then, after being able to practice only intermittently for a time due to a graveyard work schedule, he got a different job, one at a Honda dealership in Beaverton that allows him to get off in time for evening practices.

So he is back in the gym, pursuing his dream.

“The knowledge is there, and the mechanics are there too,” Gomez said. “We’re just working on the timing — the timing of my punches and the mechanics and my movement. And once we get (that) all down, we get that all together, it’s going to be easy for me to just keep going the whole round.”

Muniz has had a lot to do with Gomez’s progress. In his partnership with Coronado, he tends to focus more on the conditioning side with the boxers, Coronado on the technical side. He has been handling much of Gomez and Estrada’s training this winter while Coronado has been preparing his son, Kevin, for the upcoming spring sports season. Kevin is a senior at Glencoe and plays baseball, Coronado’s other great sporting love, for the Crimson Tide.

“He’s come a long ways really fast, actually,” Muniz said of Gomez, a Hillsboro graduate. “In the beginning, he was really tired really quick, and then now, he doesn’t get tired. He keeps going. He wants to keep going.”

As for Estrada, who graduated from Liberty and works in construction, he also found his way back to the sport. He likes how Muniz and Coronado coach him, he said, and though he returned from his sabbatical only a handful of weeks ago, he said he is already adding to his repertoire with new combinations.

“I want it,” Estrada said. “That’s why I’m here.”

Coronado wants it too. He said that he would like to see Gomez and Estrada turn pro sometime this summer if they are ready, so the coaches will be taking notes when their boxers fight in the meantime, being mindful of the adjustments that they need to make, the little errors that they need to fix.

Perhaps if all goes well, Gomez’s dream will come true, one in which he will not have to leave from his job to go to boxing, because boxing will be his job. Maybe Coronado’s will too, and he’ll get that gym — something he is working on.

The next step comes this weekend.

“Kids like this, we turn them into champions,” Coronado noted. “We did it in the past ... and we can do it again.”

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