the boxer from the “land of champions” who trains migrant children in Pozo Almonte
Abraham Tebes (22) says that boxing saved his life. He began to practice it at the age of 14, at a time when he suffered from childhood obesity and where he weighed 132 kilos. Salvation through sports, at least in his case, is not a crude metaphor said lightly.
At that time, the extra kilos caused severe headaches and cardiac arrhythmias. A doctor even told him that if he continued with his diet based on two or three dishes per meal, he would most likely suffer from diabetes, a disease that afflicts his father and mother.
But not only that: in those years his appearance provoked the ridicule and aggression of some of his classmates in Pozo Almonte, the commune of the Tarapacá Region where he was born and where he still lives.
“I suffered bullying since sixth grade. They used to say ugly things to me like ‘bouncing guatón’, they chose me last to play ball, they hid me or they cut my backpack. They even hit me. I remember that I was very quiet and with the bullying I reached a point where I hardly ever got together with anyone ”, recalls Abraham, who admits that he found in boxing a way to defend himself.
Despite his physical condition, his coaches saw him conditions to be able to box competitively. They were struck by his physical power and his 1.83m height. In just a couple of years Abraham began competing in amateur bouts and his weight began to drop explosively.
“I started competing with 120 kilos, heavyweight. Then I went down to 98, 95, then I fought at 91 kilos. Then I got to cruiserweight (86kg), and in the end I came to weigh 75 kilos. Today I weigh 79 kilos. I remember that it was satisfying to see me slimmer, with better muscles it made me feel good ”, Tebes recalls.
Abraham lost more than 50 kilos to be a professional boxer
Jogging through Humberstone
His better physical condition allowed him to maintain an exceptional performance. CAs an amateur he was Chilean champion twice, he also won a South American championship.
For this he prepared in Iquique with coach Charles Villarroel with an exercise routine that included jogging days through the Tamarugal desert. If Rocky trained by jumping the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Abraham did the same in the ghost town and nitrate of Humberstone.
“My training consisted of preparing in the mornings in Pozo Almonte and in the afternoons doing another training in Iquique. AnI would get up and go jogging to Humberstone, which is three miles from Pozo. I would go very early, then I would come back, take a shower and go to school, When I was leaving high school, I would get on a bus and go to Iquique, a one-hour drive by car, ”says Abraham.
His good performance and unusual training opened the doors to professionalism. A completely different modality, where the gloves are smaller, the blows do more damage and there is more public and pressure.
His professional debut was in 2019, he beat Peruvian Andy Flores by KO in the second round with a straight to the chin. “The feeling was great, I had never felt so much happiness,” Abraham remembers about the fight.
The first fight of Tebes cemented a prodigious career that has allowed him to visit different countries and even live incredible anecdotes such as being the sparring partner of Logan Paul, the eccentric youtuber who faced Floyd Mayweather in a fight, one of the most important boxers of all time.
Today the boxer from Pozo Almonte maintains a record of eight wins over zero. One of them developed in Florida (United States) in March of this year and broadcast on international television.
After that fight, Tebes received offers to train in the United States, but he says he prefers Pozo Almonte. A special land for boxers.
And it is that at the beginning of the 20th century in the northern pampas, precisely in the nitrate offices, impressive boxerile shows were developed. It was in those corners of Tarapacá, where they appeared the first sports figures who gave rise to the slogan “Iquique Tierra de Campeones”.
Tebes is aware of this tradition in his region: “Training here in Pozo Almonte fills me more, which is where I am from. I feel different training here, I overexert myself more, I work better ”.
“Boxing comes from overcoming problems”
Abraham Tebes today is not only preparing for his ninth fight. In Pozo Almonte, together with his father, he manages a construction company that distributes sandbags and rubble, in addition to leading a free boxing school run by the local municipality, which is mostly used to train children and young people.
Classes began in January of this year, the same date that the immigration surge and the traffic jam in Colchane broke out. “From the beginning I began to see migrant children, most of them are Venezuelans who crossed through Bolivia and who came down from Colchane to Pozo Almonte. We open the doors to them and teach them “, says Tebes.
Throughout the crisis, Abraham has taught dozens of immigrant children. He says that through sports they can distract themselves from the stress of a trip across the different borders of South America, some of them without water, food or shelter.
“The children have told me things, that in Colchane they had to sleep with a shirt and a vest and nothing else, that with all the cold it is at night.. They are extreme cold and hunger conditions ”, Tebes admits.
Regarding the preparation of young people, the boxer affirms that he does not notice differences or problems between Chilean and foreign children. He assures that conflicts over flags are one of the biggest.
“Children do not notice the differences and with the box everything becomes more universal. I tell them to do a “jab” and they all understand that it is a blow. My Chilean students are super good at welcoming their classmates, some of them come for a week and leave, but they welcome them, because they know that in addition to being good boxers, they must be good people ”.
Abraham monitors one of his trainings.
The athlete claims to understand that poorly regulated immigration is a problem in his region. Despite this, he says that nothing justifies the images of violence such as the burning of belongings or bus cars.
“Yesterday in Pozo Almonte there was a lot of talk about a Venezuelan who assaulted some people in Iquique. Everyone said that he had to be thrown out of the country, and I thought that of course, those people deserve punishment, but that does not justify what happens with the youngest. Do youWhat are the children to blame for all this?(…) I imagine that getting to a place where you are treated badly after going through extreme conditions on a trip and you end up burning your things or are treated badly affects you even more psychologically ”, he comments.
Regarding the importance of the training of immigrant children, Abraham comments that a person of that nationality, who competed professionally as a boxer in the nineties, today serves as his assistant.
“We have almost the same way of teaching and training people. He too It has helped me to connect and incorporate more immigrant students into classes “, he assures.
Regarding his classes for young immigrants, Abraham comments that many of them sometimes participate for a short time and then no longer come to classes. This is because his parents leave Pozo Almonte to settle in other cities in Chile.
For this reason, he says that he tries to make the most of each class. ”I always try to add them personally. I can teach them to fight, but I also try to instill values, advise them, I had a hard time as a child and these children also and even worse, so I try to give them the same advice that served me ”, comments the fighter.
Abraham says that his own life experience and philosophy regarding boxing can accompany his students for the rest of their lives:
“Boxing comes from overcoming problems. It is the only way out that I found to throw out everything bad. Every time I get in the ring, I think that I have to fight to be someone better and I want to throw away everything bad, all the damage that they did to me, but not from hatred, but by showing people that I am a good person. It would have been very easy to have trained and to take revenge and return the blows that they gave me as a child, but I prefer to throw that away by doing sports, motivating and teaching young children ”.
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