Anthony Vazquez (left) from Five Directions celebrates a big win over Joel Lazoya from King City Boxing in a crowded Eastside Boys & Girls Club during last year’s boxing showcase. | Credit: Rodrigo Hernandez

After a successful debut showcase last year — in which the local boxing gym Five Directions Community Club hosted a 20-bout sanctioned event in a sold-out Eastside Santa Barbara Boys & Girls Club — the gym decided to up the ante in 2023, with three events scheduled this year, starting next Saturday, April 8, with “805 Battles” at the same location.

Five Directions is in its third year after brothers Jairo and Zico Gonzalez opened the community-based gym during the pandemic, sprouting a family-like environment tucked into a small space off Aero Camino in Goleta. Since it started, kids have trained for free in the daily youth classes and Jairo’s wife, Dolores, runs a weekly women’s program, with the gym subsisting through family donations, community support, and its paid adult training programs.

After building up a strong core of fighters, ranging in age from 8 years old to adults in their mid-twenties, the gym began sparring with other regional gyms, and in July 2022 Five Directions hosted the first nationally sanctioned boxing event seen in Santa Barbara in decades.

The showcase, “A Day of Unity,” was a hit, with the Boys & Girls Club’s basketball court transformed into a makeshift ring and the gym packed with hundreds cheering on the fighters. Santa Barbara fighters faced youth and adult boxers from around the state, including Compton Boxing, KnuckleHeadz Boxing (Ventura), ASG Boxing (Moreno Valley), and King’s City Boxing.

The gym was awarded with three events this year, starting with 805 Battles this Saturday. About 10 fighters will be fighting out of Five Directions, including Vincent Terrazas, Anthony Vazquez, Jaiden Moctezuma, Lorenzo Fuentes, Kevin Gutierrez, Tomas Arzate, and 10-year-old standout Isaak De La Cruz, who has already had an impressive start to his young career as a three-time national champion.

UCSB student Jonathan Iraheta will also be making his local debut after making the move from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara and training with Five Directions since last year.

After 805 Battles, Gonzalez said he is hoping to try to move up to larger venues for the second and third shows this year, scheduled for June in October. Weather permitting (and with the city’s permission), Gonzalez is aiming for an outdoor event in June, picturing a beautiful beachside boxing ring that’s only possible in Santa Barbara. For the October showcase, the gym has even higher hopes, with plans to try and hold an event inside UCSB’s Thunderdome.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” Gonzalez said.

Co-sponsoring 805 Battles are area businesses Los Agaves, One Plant, and Unity Shoppe, along with community supporters such as Ricky Guerrero (formerly of Primo’s boxing) and immigration attorney Cynthia Santiago. Doors will open at 9 a.m. with tickets available for $20 on site.


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