POCATELLO — Twenty-year-old Derik Jensen of Pocatello is Idaho’s new welter-weight champion — he won the title Saturday when he defeated Julio Salas of Boise during a tournament sponsored by Gate City Boxing.
Jensen trains at Gate City Boxing — at 152 pounds, he works out for two hours a day, four days a week.
“Mostly a lot of running and working with the bag,” Jensen said.
He added that boxing is all about sizing up your opponent.
“You look for openings and hit the openings,” he said. “It’s about 90 percent mental, and if you lose a fight, you can’t let it get you down — you start working for the next one.”
A 2011 Century High School graduate, Jensen said he got involved in the sport because of his father, Daryl Jensen.
Daryl, a former fighter, now serves as Derik’s coach.
“I’m very proud of him,” Daryl said Sunday.
Daryl’s experience in the ring gives him an edge as a coach and he tries to pass that knowledge onto his son.
“I actually think that I’m a better coach than I was a fighter,” Daryl said.
On March 23, Derik will face Salas again when he defends his title in Boise — and next time, he’ll be more relaxed.
“I’ll calm down a lot — use my jabs more and fight smarter,” Derik said.
The title fight between Derik and Salas was the main event Saturday at the Westwood Mall — nine boxing clubs from Idaho and Utah brought fighters to Pocatello for the one-day event.
Coach Tony Correa said his Nampa boxing club gets kids off the street and gives them the opportunity to be champions.
Correa coaches at Tomorrows Champions 2 along with Rene Medina.
“This is a chance for them to prove themselves,” Correa said.
Medina fought professionally in Mexico and has more than 40 years invested in the sport.
“He’s one of the best trainers in the state,” Correa said.
But Medina had little time to talk Saturday as he prepped his boxer, Jose Montoya, for a three-round fight. From the corner Medina directed the 125-pound, Montoya.
“Right hand — loosen up — get in there,” Medina shouted from the corner.
Montoya, 15, is from Meridian — he beat Tyler Dietrich from Vista Pal Boxing in Boise.
A student at Skyview High School, Montoya said that he plans to go pro.
‘I want to go to college — got to get that education,” he said. “But I plan to start training professionally.”
Chuck Mahana, a coach with Vista Pal, the Boise club, had four fighters competing Saturday.
Mahana, also a former fighter, has been part of the sport for more than four decades and has witnessed some changes.
“New rules, mostly,” Mahana said. “Most of them are good.”
Twelve-year old Rendell Pokibro waited ring side for his fight Saturday night.
Pokibro fights for Fort Hall Boxing. He sparred with his father, Ryan Pokibro, before his fight with KC Boxing’s Bryant Kimbrough.
Rendell said his sister introduced him to the sport and Ryan fully supports his participation.
“It keeps him in shape and it keeps him out of trouble,” Ryan said.
Fort Hall Boxing coach Tim Wadsworth said as well as timing and technique, boxing teaches respect.
“Respect for others and for themselves,” Wadsworth said.
Women’s boxing has gained in both popularity and participation during the past 40 years and Mahana said he supports that.
Jack Wood, president of Gate City Boxing, said initially he wasn’t sure about women entering the sport.
“I sat on boxing’s National Board of Governors and at first I didn’t like it,” Wood said. “Now I’m kind of used to it.”
In fact, Gate City is currently training four female fighters.
Currently 11 women boxers train at the Fort Hall club and Wadsworth said women’s boxing is quickly becoming the main event.
“That’s what everyone is coming to see,” Wadsworth said.
Frank Gonzales from Hagerman said the sport also instills discipline.
His club, Gonzales Boxing, brought three fighters Saturday and Gonzales said he’s been a regular at Pocatello for 20 years.
“I’ve known (Wood) since I was a kid,” Gonzales said. “In fact he helped us open our club – he donated some equipment.”
Gonzales said when the club opened there were more female boxers than male, but he said it is difficult for women to get matches in Eastern and Southeastern Idaho.
Wood said about 350 people came out to watch the fights — tickets were $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and kids. Proceeds from the event help support Gate City Boxing.
“Nobody here makes any money – we are (all) non-profit organizations,” Wood said. “But it pays expenses for the kids and helps buy equipment — we are always looking for donations.”
Gate City Boxing coach Ron Eaton currently serves as the president of the local Golden Gloves and Saturday he also officiated inside the ring.
KC McCreery operates KC Boxing also located in Pocatello – the club had four fighters competing Saturday.
McCreery, former Gate City coach, said the addition of another club gives local kids more opportunity to get involved in the sport of boxing.
“It’s always all about the kids,” McCreery said.