Knowing his gym will be closed by the end of the month, Orlando’s hands – hard, meaty and calloused that have likely never seen an idle day – entwined themselves as if in a prayer. Orlando Montalvo reminisced about his four decades in boxing.
He was raised tough, fighting in the streets of Puerto Rico. In the street life, to fight is to survive and gain respect. Though after a fight in school at 12, he was encouraged by his mom to take that energy and control it by joining a boxing gym.
Orlando lost his first seven fights as an amateur but battled his way back eventually winning bronze medal in the 1976 Olympics. As a professional prize fighter he amassed a career of 22 wins, 2 draws, 5 losses with 18 knockouts.
When Orlando learned to box he says it taught him discipline, control and confidence and he relishes the moments where he can pass those traits on to his pupils. “My passion is the kids – that’s the more important thing here,” he said.
Orlando sometimes takes children under his wing that can’t pay. “That’s the kind of guy I am,” says Orlando. He doesn’t want to see the kids on the street getting in trouble. He currently has 30 people training under him.
His gym, Montalvo’s Boxing Gym, will be shuttering its doors at the end of the month because of increased rent at his Pacific Street business.
He hasn’t given up the fight yet. “I know I’m going to find something,” Orlando says, “I put it in God’s hands. God never let me down. I’m going to help kids. This is not going to stop me.”
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