Ringside at Ramos Boxing

"It’s hard to explain what the sport does for you without experiencing it," says Arturo Ramos III, the owner and coach at Ramos Boxing Gym.

Six days a week at the Ramos Boxing Gym located in the South Side community of San Antonio, Texas, I've photographed mostly 8- to 15-year-old amateur youth boxers—some as young as 4 years old—who train to compete in a national amateur boxing league. Many of the young athletes devote hours in the gym to continue a family tradition they say "runs in their blood." Ramos, a former professional boxer, says the intense sport remedies childhood obesity rates and youth delinquency -- common issues in low-income Latino communities like those in South Side.

As a Latina photojournalist who grew up in the San Antonio area, I was drawn to photograph this story because of the cultural significance of boxing to the South Side community. This story aims to elevate the impact of an underground sport to the youth of a community that is often overlooked.

Ramos said that one of the biggest challenges his athletes confront is the misconception of the sport as promoting violence. While the team produces a yearly handful of regional and national champions, the gym serves to instill values like discipline, dedication, and sacrifice into its youth athletes, Ramos said.

"In boxing, if somebody's making it, if somebody's getting up there, they've done a lot of the hard work," Ramos said. "And that’s something life itself doesn't teach you. You're not going to learn that by staying home, eating Hot Cheetos and playing on the Xbox."