COOLIDGE — At Robles Gym & Fitness Center in Coolidge, amateur boxers train up to five days a week, as they gain confidence and learn important techniques. But the most important way young boxers can learn and improve is in the matches themselves.

Saturday the gym hosted their second “Cooltown Throwdown” event during which many of their amateur boxers were able to fight for the first or second time in their lives.

While the Robles contingent wasn’t as successful as their first “throwdown” in August, three local fighters won their bouts, including 17-year-old Sakura Keiser, who won the only women’s matchup of the evening.

“We are impressed with the progress of our boxers,” said Julie Robles, who co-owns and manages the gym, and organized the “Cooltown Throwdown” events. “Of course there are always disappointing decisions. That is part of the territory of amateur boxing. But overall, we are proud of our team and how far these kids have come in such a short period of time.”

Professional boxer Joseph Rivas, who began his career as an MMA fighter and helps train at the Robles gym, said it was important for the kids to see where they were and what they needed to learn.

“I think it’s a good experience, win or lose,” Rivas said. “They get the crowd, the judges and refs, a venue like this. They get the whole experience, and they get an adrenaline rush out of all of that.”

Another coach, Doc Graham, said he’d been working with the amateur team on throwing straighter punches in order to make a stronger impression on the judges.

Keiser, who won her fight, said she’d been working on head movement and sticking in jabs, as well as staying relaxed and confident in the ring.

Keiser is working her ways towards competing in regional and national tournaments, and is even eyeing trying to train for the Olympics in a few years.

“Randy feels really confident that (it’s) something we can achieve,” Keiser said. “So I have been working towards that as the goal.”

The other winners from Robles’ gym were Bryan Ramirez and Luis Gonzalez Jr.

Local boxing coach Randy Robles has trained many boxers, but he also may have inadvertently produced a boxing announcer.

Ramon Hedges, who emceed the Saturday event, said that he’d initially trained with Randy Robles in Mesa back in 2017, but that he was encouraged to announce events, and he hasn’t looked back.

“I really like captivating a crowd,” Hedges said. “That sets up whether you’ll have a good night of fights or not. You need someone to bring the hype.”

Hedges said he enjoys the amateur events and seeing fighters grow into their own.

“When I come to these amateur fights you never know what you’re gonna get,” Hedges said. “These kids are the future of boxing. I get older, and these guys get older too. Someday I might see them in the pros.”

Julie Robles was dubbed the “mom of Robles boxing” and was given a bouquet at halftime in recognition of her hard work setting up the events. For her part, Robles said that they were very appreciative of all of their volunteers and that they loved the community outreach and support.

The next “Cooltown Throwdown” event is tentatively scheduled for December. Rivas will also be fighting this Friday at the “Brawl in the Barrio” at Glendale Civic Center.


Aaron Dorman is the Casa Grande reporter at PinalCentral, covering government, schools, business and more. He can be reached at

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