The kid remembers the day, that sad, scary part of it, like it was yesterday.
Memorial Day, 1991, at 242nd St. and Broadway, across from Van Cortland Park in the Bronx, Jorge Teron, age 5, his older brother Luis, age 8, and their mom Lourdes were enjoying the day in the park. It came time to head back home, so they started heading back to their apartment. Jorge and Luis crossed the street, thinking it was safe. A car bore down on them, and Lourdes, a few steps behind them, saw what was going to happen. She shoved the boys out of the way, and the car smashed her.
"She pushed us, and took the impact," Jorge, now 26, told NYFightBlog in a phoner a couple days before he was set to glove up against Pier Cote in Quebec on the Lucian Bute-Glen Johnson undercard at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec.
Lourdes lived, but suffered brain damage, and was paralyzed from the waist down. Teron, who turned pro in 2005, and was a highly touted prospect who is still recovering from two speedbump losses, really wants to get over the hump as a pro, so he can earn the sort of revenue which will help his mom with more advanced and frequent care, so she can continue to improve. After a couple years, Lourdes, 26 at the time of the accident, regained full movement. But she was in a wheelchair for a long time, which Jorge believes is because the family couldn't afford the medical bills which would have accrued had she stayed in the Connecticut facility which provided her top-notch care post-accident.
Today, Lourdes has regained most of her memory. She uses a walker, and is working on her balance, while son Jorge (25-2-1; losses to Aldo Valtierra in 2008, avenged in 2009, and current champion Brandon Rios in 2010) works to regain some of that buzz which he enjoyed back in 2005-2006-2007. Truth be told, Teron is being brought in to lose on Saturday, to jazz up the resume of the 27 year-old Cote (17-0 with 11 KOs), who is a Quebec native.
Teron is another in the long line of New Yorkers who moved west to find a more flourishing boxing scene; he jetted to Vegas in Dec. 2010, and trains with Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, the Brooklyn-born ex light heavyweight champion.
The fighter made mouths water as 6-0 lightweight; but he needs to better use his height, pay attention to staying balanced, and maintaining focus for every second of every round.
"Now I'm playing the role of gatekeeper," Teron admits. "But I see it as an opportunity to show I belong on a world class stage. You go from the penthouse to the outhouse quick in this game. Is it fair? It's just the boxing business."
I ask if he misses New York. I'm always curious about people who move, because I see NYC as somewhat inhospitable to anyone who isn't super rich. "I miss family and friends, I don't necessarily miss New York. I like the West Coast, especially the weather. And the cost of living in Vegas is great. I live in a beautiful gated neighborhood, for less than what I'd pay to live in a bad neighborhood in the Bronx."
In these times of a withered economy, boxing is once again seen as a viable vocation for a young person from humble roots, who may not be on a track to higher education. The path to upward mobility in the US has gotten steeper in the last few decades, and so I find myself rooting that much harder for guys like Teron, who are fighting to better themselves, and their family. As he puts it, "I want to be the best at what I do, to provide for my mom the way took care of us."
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