One of San Quentin’s oldest sports is boxing, but the sport is not practiced here anymore due to its violent reputation. However, the residents can still use the punching bag and get training from some of the prison’s self-proclaimed boxing coaches, such as boxing enthusiast Raymond Timothy Estrada.
Timothy Hicks (TH): How long have you been into boxing?
Raymond Estrada (RE): I have been into boxing since I was 10 or 11. It was all around me.
TH: Who did you see box-ing?
RE: My cousin was a Golden Glove and my uncle was a boxing coach. I looked up to them.
TH: How did you learn the sport?
RE: I emulated everything that my older cousin did. I used to tag along with him when we were kids.
TH: Did you ever have a match?
RE: Not professionally. I boxed a lot when I was young, and when I got older that’s when I had my first match. I used to box at a place called Ring Side, but it started at Holmes playground.
TH: Did the love for boxing follow you to prison?
RE: Yeah, sometimes tears would well up in my eyes when I would watch the matches on TV because I would wish it was me. I wish I had chosen that path instead of the one I chose that brought me to prison. Boxing is my passion.
TH: So what do you do to fulfill that passion while you are here?
RE: I stay sober and I apply all my coping mechanisms. I use the heavy bag as my therapy.
TH: Have any injuries ever stopped you from boxing?
RE: Yes, because of my lifestyle I had chosen out there, I was shot several times and I sustained serious injuries from it.
TH: Since you cannot box anymore, do you train anyone to share your knowledge of boxing with others?
RE: Yeah, when people ask me to coach them. Some may even offer me money, but I refuse it. I do it just to give back. It is my way to do good. I tell those that I coach that there is no cause for violence. We do this for the sole purpose to learn techniques of boxing and to stay in shape. I tell them that if I ever see them get into fights or be negative with this skill, I will not coach them no more.
TH: How many people do you coach?
RE: It’s only three so far.
TH: Do those you train trust your skills?RE: I believe so.
TH: Do you plan to do this when you get out?
RE: Absolutely. It’s in my relapse prevention plan. Everyone that knows me knows that it’s my passion. I love it like those who love other sports love their sport of choice. I plan on helping at-risk youth out there so that I might save someone from taking the route I took that brought me to prison.