Pablo Rodriguez has been a “hincha” - that is a supporter - of the Club Atlético Huracan football team all his life, so it's a joy for him to be part of the sports club to which the squad belongs, coaching boxing at the club gym, which is very much part of neighbourhood life in Parque Patricios.
“The mystique that Huracán has in the neighbourhood is very strong,” Pablo says. “So it's a very special place to work; a place where you work with a lot of passion.”
The gym is named after Oscar “Ringo” Bonavena, a boxer from the club who had a successful career in the US in the 1960s and fought Muhammad Ali in 1970. Ringo remains such an idol here at the club that there's a statue of him permanently watching his team from the stands in the football stadium. Pablo feels well at home because this is just the kind of environment in which he grew up.
“As a kid I was curious and tried different sports, he says. “My dad worked a lot so I grew up partly in a club and I tried all the sports. I first went to boxing at 12 and it was the sport that hooked me most.”
Rodriguez entered here as a boxing coach in 2009. Now he trains around 200 people, of which 30 compete. He works every evening and coordinates bouts at the weekends.
“Each kid goes through different stages,” he says. “There's a process of evolution. There are kids who are just starting out and need a lot of attention to start on the right foot and perfect the technical side as tidily as possible so that it's easier later on; then there are kids who are already competing as amateurs and those that are professional and already have 10 years’ training behind them and are trying to build their professional career and get some economic benefit out of all the effort they’ve put in, though they still do it for pleasure, for passion. Boxing is a sport that borders on the margins because it's a legal fight so to speak, but it's a release and a struggle against fate in which all are equal. The best fighter wins, end of story.”
Typical of Buenos Aires’ traditional neighbourhood sports clubs, Huracan might be best known for its first division football team, but it offers everything from gymnastics and handball to boxing to hundreds of members from different ages and backgrounds.
“It's a meeting place for different sports,” Pablo explains. “The social side has grown a lot and it's become a very open club. The two elements I like most are the technical side: boxing as a sport itself and the job of teaching it and developing it in the best way possible, and then the social side, which is a whole world and which fascinates me. Each kid is a story with lots of things in the background: family, dreams. This is a sport that brings together a lot of people from different social backgrounds which generates this great atmosphere in which those who have a little more try to help the club so that those who have less can train and compete. This is what most moves me.”
Discover a neighbourhood’s passion for it's team. Visit Club Huracan's classic art deco stadium, Palacio Ducó, in Parque Patricios.
In Buenos Aires, work and passion often go hand in hand. Discover more Porteño professions.