BY MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer
Carson City junior middleweight Jose "Chuy" Elizondo has finished up a sterling 90-fight amateur boxing career and will step into the ring for the first time as a professional Friday on the undercard of "International Affair."
The eight-bout card " presented by Let's Get It On Promotions " will be headlined by a 12-round title bout between Yerington's Jesse Brinkley, who will defend his WBC-affiliated United States National Boxing Championship super middleweight belt, and Canadian light heavyweight champion Jason "Notorious" Naugler, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, at Reno Ballroom.
The 19-year-old Elizondo, who wants to be a surgical technician, has completed two semesters at Western Nevada College and, in addition to always staying in condition for his fights, works at a local electronics store.
Elizondo, who was 84-6 as an amateur, recently won the Nevada State Golden Gloves and Nevada Regional Golden Gloves championships, both in Las Vegas, and finished third in the National Golden Gloves in Colorado Springs, Colo.
By all estimations, Elizondo should be feeling like he's on top of the world as he ends one journey and begins another. But when he enters the ring against Joel Gonzalez, of Las Vegas, in their scheduled four-round bout, Elizondo will be literally fighting for his freedom.
According to Elizondo, he has been recently offered a deal by his public defender. If he pleads guilty to obstructing justice " Elizondo allegedly threatened a police officer while at a local party in mid-May " he will serve "only" six months in jail and receive three years' probation.
Elizondo denies he broke any laws during the incident, which occurred in Carson City. Furthermore, said his father and trainer, Jose Elizondo Sr., even though a judge has already ruled the police didn't have enough evidence to go to trial, the Carson City District Attorney's Office will be pursuing the matter further, hence the plea bargain.
Neither law enforcement officials nor the D.A.'s office were contacted for this interview.
Chuy said the whole thing is one big misunderstanding. He said there was a party at which both adults and minors were present and that the police kicked in the door. He said a friend of his was being loud and belligerent and, after getting permission from an officer, Chuy approached his friend to calm him down.
"I told him [his friend] to shut up and they'd let us go, when another cop yelled at me and pushed me," Chuy said. "I fell on my ass and didn't get up."
Elizondo Sr. said his son was subsequently arrested after he was accused of "threatening a cop," which amounts to obstruction of justice. He said if his family could afford an attorney, there'd be no impending case.
Elizondo Sr. said that during a preliminary hearing, Chuy's public defender asked one police officer if Chuy was standing in a threatening position after the shove. Elizondo Sr. said one officer said no, but another one said yes.
Elizondo Sr. said the main question of how could Chuy be in an aggressive, threatening position after being pushed down wasn't answered to the judge's satisfaction and he decided against pursuing the charge.
"I think it's pretty messed up," Chuy said. "He didn't have to do this. I don't think he should have pushed me. One cop gave me permission to go back in the house and I got shoved onto the ground then arrested."
Elizondo Sr. said this is only the latest in an ongoing series of events that have dogged his son for the last four years. On Dec. 9, 2006, Chuy was the passenger in a car that was run off the road by a pair of adult males following a fight between the quartet.
The driver (Chuy's friend) Robert De La O was killed in the wreck, which happened near Dayton, and Chuy was left with a plate and screws in his right leg. Chuy, who said he's constantly searched for tattoos by local gang units, admitted to having only one, with De La O's name under the words "Rest In Peace."
Elizondo Sr. said he believes Chuy's only crime is being Latino and friendly to everyone he meets, including those involved in gangs. He said his son has "never been jumped in" (initiated) by a gang, although he admittedly is an attractive prospect because of his fighting prowess and the prestige he's earned in the ring.
"Chuy doesn't think in terms of who's bad or who's good," Elizondo Sr. said. "He hangs out with a group of people, so the police assume it's a gang and he's a gang member. Chuy's never been in trouble. He's never been caught tagging or beating up people.
"He's got a good mom, a good dad, a good family. He's a good kid. He's never hurt anybody. He tries to help people. He doesn't get credit for the stuff he does. A lot of kids follow Chuy around " younger kids. This gets him in trouble, gets him a label and they [the police] don't even know him. It's one of the reasons the Latino community doesn't see eye to eye with the police. The cops don't open up to you. They just label you. Whatever happened to their motto, 'To Serve and Protect?'"
Chuy said he draws constant attention from the police, whether he's at home or going to the gym.
"They'll ask me, 'What's the word on the street?'" Chuy said. "I'll go, 'What?'"
"I'll say, 'Leave us alone, we work for a living,'" Elizondo Sr. interjected. "'Did my son do something wrong?' No. We even moved. One month later, they found us and paid us a visit."
"'We just wanted to let you know we're around,'" Chuy said of the visiting officer's comment. "I know they're around. They came to the gym. It was a sheriff in an SUV. He said, 'It's Friday. What's going down tonight? Are there any parties?' I say, 'I guess, why?' He said, 'I hear there's a meeting tonight between Reno and Carson gangs.' I go, 'What? You're the gang unit. Go find out.' He says, 'So and so says he chased you down.' It's like they want to start some drama."
PROVING A POINT
The Elizondos say they have had enough drama. So much so that at one point Elizondo, who was born in Tomatlan, Jalisco, Mexico, said he considered moving his family out of Carson City.
But, he said, Chuy wouldn't go for it.
"He's so very proud of this town," Elizondo said of his son. "He said he loves Carson City. Even with the labels he gets stuck on him, even though the cops are wrong. They just don't want a Latino to succeed. There are bad people from every race."
"I mind it. I do," Chuy said. "It is annoying. There are a lot of people doing a lot worse than going to college, going pro. I'm a straight guy. And I'm the one they [deleted] with the most.
"I'm pretty focused on this fight. I'm thinking about nothing else. I run every day. But I don't like to go out and get pulled over and have the police start asking me questions."
Elizondo said Chuy has somehow managed to not get distracted by all of the unwanted attention.
"He handles it pretty well," Elizondo Sr. said. "He stays grounded. He says, 'I'm going to prove everybody wrong.' It motivates him a lot. I say, 'Prove it to yourself.' Sometimes we get really depressed. That's not the way we live our lives. We're straight. I work 10 hours a day to support my family [his wife, his youngest son, Diego, and two daughters]. I think maybe it's a test from God " that there's a bigger reason."
And besides ending up behind bars for something he said he hasn't done, Chuy has another valid worry. What if, for instance, a gang member sees a police officer questioning Chuy and then one of them gets arrested afterwards? What if Chuy's name is brought up during that arrest and someone draws the wrong inference and decides to retaliate against Chuy?
It's a prospect that neither Elizondo wants to consider.
UNDER THE (RADAR) GUN
In spite of all the negativity currently surrounding him and his son, Elizondo Sr. appreciates how far Chuy has come since he started boxing when he was 10.
"I'm very excited. It's a big accomplishment for him and for me," Elizondo Sr. said. "I remember when we started. We were coming from a soccer game " I was his coach then, too. We were up 6-0 and we lost 8-6. We were driving home and he looked at me. I asked him, 'Do you want to do another sport, one you can do by yourself and you can go as far as you can go?' He said, 'Yeah!'"
Chuy, now 6-foot-1, grew from a tall 92-pounder and worked his way through national Silver Gloves tournaments, where as a 13-year-old he finished second in Kansas City, Kan., third when he was 15 and third in the national Junior Olympics in Brownsville, Texas, when he was 16.
In spite of his solid amateur achievements, Chuy has not attracted a lot of attention from promoters.
"He's under the radar," Elizondo Sr. said. "Not a lot of people are saying much about him. We went about things our own way. He continues to get experience. He's learning. We're patient. He's coming along. We talked with [Terry and Tommy Lane of Let's Get It On Promotions, who are presenting this card]. They gave him a fight. We'll go from there."
For his part, Chuy feels some satisfaction that he's come this far in his career and that he will get to represent his hometown.
"It feels real good. Nine years ... it feels like it's paying off," Chuy said. "It felt great to be the only one from Carson City in Texas and hear them announce, 'From Carson City, Nevada....' My dream is to fight for Carson City. I love this town."
Only time will tell if Carson City fight fans " and its police force " will love him back.