Professional boxer Frank Galarza lost both of his parents before he was 10-years-old — so he knows how to take a punch.
And during his teen years, when he was growing up in the care of his aunt and uncle in Red Hook, he never felt complete, until he discovered boxing.
“Boxing for me became a second family,” he said.
The 27-year-old, whose father was a professional fighter, decided to give boxing a try around the age of 16. He found the Sunset Park Police Athletic League and immediately fell in love with the sport. It provided something that stressed discipline, allowed for creativity and challenged him. It filled the void for him like sports do for so many people.
“I was a little confused, lost,” Galarza said. “I felt lonely. The boxing helped me with that.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing from there. Galarza (8–0–1) thought about quitting early on as he struggled to get his career going. He is still working a second job as a personal trainer at a New York Health and Racquet Club in Manhattan to make ends meet as he fights for famed boxer Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy promotions.
The 156-pound junior middleweight will be in the ring against an opponent to be determined on the undercard of the title fight between Bernard Hopkins and Tavoris Cloud on March 9 at the Barclays Center.
Galarza wants to pass the lessons from his life on to Brooklyn’s youth. He is working to give them the same opportunity he’s had by recently starting the Brooklyn-based organization Fight Forward. It will mentor kids from ages 13 to 20 with a focus on boxing. Learning his story will give them an example of what is possible if they put their mind to something, he says.
“Me making that decision of not giving up and following what I want to do and pursuing my dream is really paying off,” he said. “I feel like the youth especially can get something out of knowing ‘Don’t give up.’ ”
Galarza, who won the Golden Gloves 165-pound Novice Division in 2010, is looking to add to that narrative at the Barclays Center. He is expecting close to 200 family and friends to be in attendance to watch him fight in his own backyard.
“Fighting in Brooklyn alone on that stage is an accomplishment in itself for me,” Galarza said.
Winning would make it even better.Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewsk