GERING, Neb. — Steven De Los Santos has finally found a home and a sport in which he excels.
For much of his young life, he was in and out of foster homes. Eventually he was adopted by his foster parents Eliseo and Ann De Los Santos. Once he had a family, he wanted to excel at a sport.
“I tried a lot of sports,” he said. “One of the coaches told me I didn’t seem interested.”
It didn’t dissuade De Los Santos from continuing to look. It was Bill Green, an independent living specialist at PALS (Preparation for Adult Living Services), Central Plains Center for Services, that suggested boxing to De Los Santos.
“I thought I would give it a try,” he said. “People tell me I have a hard hit, and I really like the gym.”
The Maranatha Boxing Club in Gering has its gym in the upper portion of its building, which also houses a church and outreach facility. De Los Santos’ adoptive father, Eliseo, is the pastor at the Maranatha Outreach in Gering. He believes in not just having strong faith, but a strong body.
The center has several classes on physical fitness, including the boxing club, which merged with the Eastside Boxing Club this past year.
“It didn’t make sense to have two gyms of boxers,” said Green. “The outreach program can be a big help to kids in trouble here, and Maranatha is a great team. Plus, it’s all under one roof.”
De Los Santos would agree, as the part he enjoys most about the gym is working out with all his friends. The youths at the gym are like one big family, he said.
Justin Becerra, a senior at Scottsbluff High School, agrees. He has been boxing for about four years.
“I enjoy the people and working out together,” he said.
The boxers look out for each other, with older boxers like Becerra helping the younger boxers. Each helps the other with sparring, or putting on their safety gear.
“When I lost my grandmother, everyone treated me like family and made me feel better,” he said.
The Maranatha Boxing Club, in association with BG Sports Entertainment, will present Battle in the Panhandle II on Saturday afternoon at the Terry Carpenter Recreation Center in Terrytown, west of Scottsbluff, Neb.
Fifteen area boxers will compete against boxers from more than seven boxing clubs from nearby states.