La Habra Boxing Club Closing It’s Doors

By William Trillo

It’s with a heavy heart that I am writing this article to inform the boxing community that The La Habra Boxing Clubs Founder, Trainer and Cut Man David Martinez has made the difficult decision to permanently close the doors after nearly 40 years of service to the young boys and men who stepped into his gymnasium.

As cliché as it might sound by now; 2020 has reared its ugly head again. Like all the other gyms across the country the boxing club was forced to shut down in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the course of the following months Martinez was informed there would be new rules to follow to open back up and that would be a costly task. After thinking long and hard about the situation, and as difficult as it was for him to do, Martinez made the decision it was time to move on.

It was back in 1981 that the Vietnam War Veteran and Hero Martinez along with his cousin Ray Molina opened the doors at The Old Lady of Guadalupe Church in La Habra to give troubled youths in the area a chance to get out of the gang life. Before that Martinez was helping those kids out in his garage gym, but when the city council in La Habra gave Martinez the keys to the abandoned church that was built in 1947, it opened a door to world I am sure Martinez himself could have never imagined.

When the club began it was a place for the neighborhood kids to come into a safe environment, play some foosball, shoot some pool and if they dared, lace up the gloves and step into the squared circle. It’s a tough neighborhood and many of them did. It wasn’t long before some of those kids in the neighborhood showed some promise and began their boxing careers. Most notably would be the late Julio Gonzalez who went on to become the first Mexican Light Heavyweight Champion of the world. And of course, the very popular brothers Librado Andrade and Enrique Ornelas, who both fought for world titles numerous times. The talented brothers called the La Habra Boxing Club their home. With the help of Martinez those three fighters helped put the La Habra Boxing club firmly on the map.

As the years ensued, Martinez gained notoriety as a trainer and cut man and it wasn’t long before world class fighters were coming to the La Habra Club to get in some good old fashioned and no-nonsense work and sparring. The list is seemingly endless; Shane Mosley, Mike Weaver, Jorge Paez, Carlos Palomino, Tyrell Biggs, Danny Green, Mikkel Kessler, Cobrita Gonzalez, Edwin Valero, Alfonso Gomez, Sergio Mora, not too mention so many other professional fighters who walked through the doors of that humble church building.

From reaching out and helping so many at risk youths to being the springboard for world champions The La Habra Boxing Club along with Martinez have been a staple in the community. They will be sorely missed.

It was last week that Librado Andrade gave me a call and told me that he and his brother Nestor would be at the club on Saturday to break down the ring and move it to a new location. He told me his other brother Enrique Ornelas would also be there along with David Martinez. Librado invited me to come to the club to join them and I jumped at that offer.

By the time I got there the ring was already broken down, there were no heavy bags to punch, no mirrors to shadow box in front of, just the scattered remnants of a once thriving gym. Having been a member of that club for quite a long time and having left my share of blood, sweat and tears inside that building it was not easy to face the reality in front of me.

Over the next few hours we reminisced about everything that took place inside those walls over the years. We laughed and shook our heads over what a great time we all truly had. No one cried but every once in a while after someone told a story there would be a silence and we would all just kind of stare off into the distance visualizing those days gone by.

Those were the good ol’ days. Days I will never forget.

It was a special time for all of us and nothing will ever be able to take those moments away.

Thank you David Martinez for your support and friendship, you are the best!

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7 Responses to “La Habra Boxing Club Closing It’s Doors”

  1. Carlos Rivera says:

    A sad day for youth boxing. It was beautiful old style gym with a lot of characters. Dave Martinez Is a Class Act Trainer and Mentor.

  2. David Martinez says:

    Yes Bill, 40 years of having a gym brings unforgettable memories. Many champions trained here and at one time we had Julio Cesar Chavez train in the morning and Joey Camache in the afternoon for their Anaheim fight. Also, at one time we had three fighters who were number one Mexican Boxers in three divisions. Julio Gonzalez was the top Mexican light-heavyweight, Librado Andrade the top Mexican super-middleweight and Enrique Ornelas the number one Mexican middleweight. They all started here at the same time and fought for world titles. I remember you training for your first fight and sparring with a couple of pros and did very good but retired too soon. Thanks again for your support all these years and supporting the La Habra Boxing Club

    • William says:

      Thanks David. To be a part of that club and be around during those times was some of the best moments of my life. It was like living a dream and you helped make it come true. Being there with the Brothers and Julio, sparring with pros including Jorge Paez….who could have imagined. Thanks for the compliment about my sparring. I don’t know if it was I quit too soon or if I started too late. Probably a little bit of both. Haha…it was a great time even if I got my butt kicked more often than not. Thanks David! You are the best. A true friend.

  3. Erika Jimenez says:

    So sad for the news
    Thank you so much for everything.

  4. Nick P. Karabineris says:


    Having been there once i felt the spirit of the all those who went before me.

    Congratulations Dave, you gave a great service to those kids, and us Canadians would have never met Librado or Enrique if it wasn’t for your gym.

  5. Lola says:

    Our family is so proud of you brother! You loved to train and we’re always so generous with your time.
    Loved that my boys grew up seeing their tio train and meeting his boxers.