By Héctor Villarreal
Photos: Octavio Pinzón (Pandeportes)
Thirty-one years after the legendary Pascual Ciela González Gymnasium was demolished, Panamanian boxers and trainers received an unexpected and motivating announcement: The National Sports Institute (Pandeportes) managed to get their lost privileged location back soon.
In 1991, the boxing family had to vacate the Pascual Ciela Gym, located next to the pier in the humble neighborhood of El Marañón, to make way for the construction of a fish market.
The local boxing community struggled to find a new training center and finally had to stay in a hangar located in a flood-prone area in the Curundú neighborhood, now known as the Pedro Alcázar Gym.
When they had already lost all hope of having a worthy preparation site, they received the announcement on Sunday that the miracle had finally happened; Mr. Héctor Brands, General Director of Pandeportes managed to get the government to grant them the use of an existing structure that has not yet been used and that in less than a year will be converted into a gym for boxing and other combat sports.
The building, which will be transformed over the next 8-10 months into the Tierra de Campeones gym, is located just 100 meters away from the fish market, the former site of the El Marañón gym, and is part of a beautiful touristic park area with a cycling course and pedestrian walkway all along the Panama city bay, known as Cinta Costera.
The announcement was made at a ceremony followed by 15 amateur boxing matches, organized by trainer Rigoberto Garibaldi and Celso Chávez, in the presence of former world champions, trainers and boxers, which received with joy the news.
Former Panamanian world champions such as Vicente Mosquera, Jorge Luján, Rafael Pedroza, Santiago Samaniego, Anselmo Moreno, Guillermo Jones, Ricardo Córdoba, Roberto Vásquez and Ana Pascal attended the event, as well as foreigners who became champions in Panama, such as Jamaican Nicholas Walters and Venezuelan Liborio Solís, Nehomar Cermeño and Jean Piero Pérez.