A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
~ Nicholas Griesbach
HCC student Omar Albanil is turning his love for boxing into a living.
Tampa, Florida-On 4435 N. Lauber Way is a well-kept secret that may alter the landscape of boxing, a sport that is rich with tradition in the state of Florida. At this address sits an unassuming warehouse, inside there is hard work being done. Not the type of work we might think of when we see a place like this. There are heavy bags being pummeled, speed bags being thumped, and pugilists constantly working on their footwork.
This is a place where boxing prospects within Tampa and the neighboring cities come to train. Here in the confines of the gym, you will find a young man at a desk in his office or find him sweeping the floors because, as he likes to put it “a clean gym is a happy gym.” He could be training for his next match or helping someone with their conditioning. Any way you look at it this young man is attempting to turn the boxing world upside down. He is a four-time Florida state welterweight amateur boxing champion. In addition, he is Trigga City Boxing’s owner, Omar Albanil. Omar Albanil, 22, was born in Mexico and lived in Mississippi before he moved to Florida. He was enrolled at Alonso High School when he discovered his love for boxing. He had his first amateur match when he was 15 years old. It was a rough start for Albanil; he lost his first two fights and didn’t know if he wanted to continue with his boxing career, but he was determined not to leave the sport without a win under his belt. He then found a way to get his first win. Albanil started to hit his stride in 2008. He stated, “I was 18 years old and finding myself as a fighter. I started to take boxing more seriously.” At the 2011 Mex Games in Los Angeles, California, Albanil won his weight class and was sent to the National Olympics of Mexico, where he would win his match but later be disqualified due to inadvertently violating an equipment rule. If his win would have stood, he would have represented Mexico in the Pan American Games. Omar Albanil is 17-5 overall as an amateur. Albanil was training for his first professional fight when he suffered an unfortunate left shoulder injury. “My debut was supposed to be in February, but when I was pushing past the pain, that’s when I got hurt,” he said. “I have been doing physical therapy getting strength and muscle back. I have no more pain in the shoulder. I should be back to my regular training routine in about a month.”
He has had plenty of work to keep himself busy. He is currently wrapping up his first semester at Hillsborough Community College where he is in pursuit of a business degree. He already runs his own boxing gym; Trigga City Boxing, in to which he is determined to make a success. “I want this gym to be known as the gym with the best fighters. We’re not in this for money, we’re in this to make the best fighters and make our mark on Tampa. New York has Gleason’s Boxing Gym, California has Freddie Roach’s Wild Card, and Florida now has Trigga City. We’re going to make history, that way we’re never forgotten.”
When asked what sets his gym apart from other so-called boxing gyms he responded, “There’s a lot of trainers out there who like boxing. They say I can train a fighter, but they don’t really know anything about boxing.”
Albanil is very confident in the product he will be giving to the consumers, as he should, because of the man he has in his corner. Henry “Angel” Rosa Montoya is a renowned trainer in the sport of boxing and a great asset to Albanil. He is the primary trainer at Trigga City Boxing. He is a third generation trainer who mentored his first professional fighter when he was only 17 years of age. He also trained several fighters during the prime of their careers such as Carlos “El Rayo” Rivera, Moises “El fuego de Ponce” Droz, Carlos “ Bam Bam” Diaz, Charlie “The Beast” Serrano, “Sweet” Pete Frissina, “Mighty” Moe McKay, Ali Tareh, Chevelle Hallback, and Belinda “Brown Sugar” Larachente. He also served as a coach on the 2000 Olympic team, as well as helping Omar Albanil in his success as a fighter. The gym is also home to other boxers from HCC such as Rob Tirado and Olympic hopeful, Stefon John. Montoya believes that it is all about the pursuit of perfection, which for him means fighting a match without ever getting hit. That is when you have achieved perfection.
Omar Albanil explains what you can expect if you decide to walk through the doors of his gym. “You come to a boxing gym; it’s pretty much a school. You come in, and you’re here to learn. If you want to get good grades, you dedicate yourself. No one trains fighters the way we do. There’s a philosophy; we teach the angles where it’s impossible to be hit.”
Business may start off slow due to people’s perception of the sport, yet Albanil views it differently. “People say boxing is a brutal sport, but to me it’s an art form. It’s a way to express yourself through your body with combination punches leading to knockouts which lead to the perfect picture.”
In a “Trigga City” video directed by student Sean DeGraw, (Youtube) you see several people demonstrating their love and resolve to thrive in their given field. The one boxer that stands out amongst the rest is Omar Albanil ready to spar. With a look of motivation, the will to win, and determined to finally reach perfection, Omar comes out of his corner and much like he does with everything, he comes with a desire to succeed. This video is simply titled “Passion.”