A fundraiser for the Waco Boxing Club attracted hundreds Saturday for a tournament at Mutualista Hall.

With the support of donations, the Waco Boxing Club offers free lessons to people under the age of 18 who can’t afford them. Owner Jaime Lerma’s policy mirrors that of his longtime trainer, Gilbert “Cuate” Sanchez, the namesake of the tournament and founder of the club in 1972.

Lerma became a professional boxer when he was 18 and won a world title under Sanchez, who died in 2001.

“There are so many people he’s helped and so many people that looked up to him,” Lerma said. “I just want to show some appreciation for that, and at the same time, help raise money for the Waco Boxing Club to continue his legacy.”

Fifty-five fights were planned for Saturday and Sunday.

Chris Murphy and his 12-year-old son, Matthew, came to the tournament from Moody.

“A lot of people have doubted us, saying, ‘You’re not going to go anywhere with boxing,’ ” Matthew said. “But I practice a lot.”

John Ramirez, an assistant coach with Excalibur Boxing in Cleburne, said the team is excited for the tournament, which will become an annual event.

“We have love for all the boxers and the clubs coming together for a good turnout and for a good cause,” Ramirez said.

Lerma said Texas towns are well-represented in the tournament, along with teams from Oklahoma and Louisiana. Money raised during the tournament will fund more equipment.

“We want to keep the money coming in so these kids have a place to go,” Lerma said. “A lot of families can’t afford (paid lessons), so they have a place to go. I provide all of the equipment. I take them to tournaments, I drive them there, and we take care of them the best we can.”

Phillip has covered higher education for the Tribune-Herald since November 2015.

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