Ruben Vasquez II
Former Flint Standout Gold Glove Boxer with East Side Boxing, Military Veteran, and Retired Saginaw Police Officer
May 26, 2021
From Jack Dempsey appearing at Atwood Stadium in 1936 to oversee a fight with General Motors President and Flintstone Harlow Curtice, to Sugar Ray Leonard at the IMA in 1976 after winning an Olympic Gold, Flint has always been a hot bed of boxing action.
Then there are the local greats, including Jock Leslie who fought for a world title against Willie Pep in a sold out Atwood Stadium in 1947 (Leslie lost in the 12th round). Arnie “The Champ” Wells, Henry Hank, and others brought fame to the area. Tony Burton, who went on to be Sylverster Stallone’s Rocky trainer in the film franchise, also fought at Berston Field House.
The Dirrell brothers, André and Anthony, won Olympic medals and world titles. Chris Byrd was the World Heavyweight Champion, along with Claressa Shields the best female fighter of all time, or the GWOAT as she calls herself.
At the grass roots level there were thousands of fighters that entered in to this legacy without winning a world championship title, or even a fight. At that level it was about building self confidence, pride, discipline, camaraderie—the attributes that build a great community, family, business, and life.
That’s where Ruben Vasquez II’s story begins. His grandparents, who initially came to America from Mexico via Texas, felt greener pastures lay in Michigan, where the auto industry was rapidly expanding. They packed up and moved north with the dream of becoming small business owners. This courage and conviction is part of the DNA that led Ruben to pursue boxing as his chosen sport. It was the direct result of his father setting up what became a legendary community pillar.
The East Side Boxing Team holds an important place in Flint's estimable and historic boxing reputation, a place which includes Flint Police Athletic League, CERCA Center Boxing, and of course Berston Field House, along with others. Ruben and his teammates not only took on the challenge of becoming champion level fighters, but they became crucial components of the East Side neighborhood.
From their Franklin Avenue enclave, they helped carve out a winning team, but much more than that they helped many young men develop the required skills to build the kind of a life and foundation that would serve them very well throughout their lives.
It’s sports history, East Side history, community story preservation, but as always it’s another classic Flint Chronicle with Fish!